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How to Downsize into a One-Bedroom Apartment

A small apartment with contemporary design

One of the most popular trends today for creating a carefree lifestyle is downsizing to an apartment or a smaller home. Gone is the social stigma that “to downsize” signaled you weren’t doing well financially or that it was somehow a forced action.

Today, downsizing is seen as a freeing experience, whatever your age––but especially in your senior years. There’s a great quote circulating that declares proudly, “Live small so you can live big.” It’s the perfect motto for the new downsizing generation who loves the idea of decluttering and surrounding themselves with only their most favorite possessions.


Benefits of Downsizing

As we just noted, downsizing is a great way to live big. You’ve spent your life accumulating pounds of stuff, and you’re at a time in your life when you need a lot less of it. Very likely you spend your time in just two or three rooms in your home. Who needs furnished areas you never use? They’re just dust magnets. So are all those books you’ve already read and those clothes you haven’t worn in years.

Now imagine yourself enjoying so much more freedom simply by downsizing to an apartment and living in less square footage with only the items you need and really love.

One of the best ways to do that is to settle in a bright, airy senior apartment like the  independent living apartments you’ll discover at Meadow Lakes in East Windsor, New Jersey. Residents can choose from a range of comfortable floor plans and enjoy a carefree “lock-and-leave” lifestyle. Gaining that kind of freedom is so rejuvenating, those who’ve experienced it will tell you they wouldn’t dream of going big ever again.

If that kind of freedom-oriented retirement appeals to you, why not take the first step toward this exciting move by launching your own declutter process? Keep reading to learn eight easy steps to doing it successfully.


How to Downsize with Our 8-Step Declutter Method

Perhaps the most important advice is to take it slow. Certainly, you can compress the process to a short four weeks if necessary, but it’s far less stressful if you pace yourself. Downsizing and parting with long-held possessions and leaving a home you’ve lived in for years will be an emotional experience––it’s natural and expected.

These eight steps will keep you on track:

One Room at a Time​​––The bigger your current home, the more overwhelming it can feel to go into battle mode. Experts advise starting with one room at a time and picking a room that doesn’t have a lot of emotional attachment, like the laundry room or even a linen closet. Be logical––do you really need more than two sets of sheets and towels?


Keep Only What You Love––It’s easy to amass a collection of dolls or decorative cups and saucers when you live in a larger space. In a smaller space, big collections become dust collectors and add clutter. Now that you’re downsizing to an apartment, it’s time to think about passing some of these items on to others or selling them. Experts suggest taking photos of collectibles you part with and then creating a photo album to display with the few you do keep.


Call in Your Moral Support Team––If you’re wary of facing this task alone, bring in family members to maintain objectivity! It can be a fun time to reminisce about the vacation when you bought everyone those straw hats or whose idea it was to buy that weird sculpture. Make four piles for donate, sell, gift, or toss––and above all, avoid creating a “maybe” pile!


Be an Expert Giver and Enjoy the Process––You’ve got a grandchild who’s always admired your great-grandma’s china, and a godson who loves your dad’s pocket watch collection. The old school of thought is that these gifts should be given in your will. But now that you’re downsizing, why not make a gift of those special items to family members now? You’ll get to clear out more space and enjoy seeing their faces light up. It’s a win-win.


Rent a Storage Unit for Holiday Stuff and Infrequently Used Items––That extra space will be a godsend for items you just don’t want to part with or won’t have room to display when you’re downsizing to an apartment. Storage units are also perfect for storing holiday decorations. Most offer month-to-month rentals and you’ll have your pick of unit sizes. Talk to the owner about accessibility (only during business hours or accessible anytime?) as well security and cleanliness measures, and ensure that the facility is temperature controlled.


Prepare for Your New Space––If you’ve already chosen your senior independent living apartment, get a good look inside and be sure to bring a tape measure, pad and pencil, and a cellphone with a camera. If you can’t get in, get a floor plan with measurements included. Knowing all you can about the new place will help you decide which furniture pieces you can take along, or whether you might want to consider purchasing smaller ones. (See #8)


Consider Fresh, Smaller Furniture––While it’s tempting to try and retrofit your current furnishings into your new space, it can be a losing battle. Successfully downsizing to an apartment typically involves selling, gifting, or donating that large bedroom set or long couch and going for lighter-feeling pieces. There are many retailers that specialize in apartment-size furnishings such as IKEA, Crate and Barrel, and several others. 


Plan the Details of Your Move––Make a to-do list and set up your timing for the move. Get quotes from local movers, and determine a schedule for going through your house room by room, prepping for the move and what needs to happen on moving day. Whether you pack yourself or hire a moving company, be sure to pack a box with items you won’t want to hunt for on day one: medicines, pajamas, change of clothes, toiletries, charging cords, remote control, coffee and coffee cups, bedding, etc.


Ready for More Freedom and an Easygoing Lifestyle? 

Meadow Lakes isn’t just any independent senior living community! It’s set in a 103-acre accredited arboretum filled with quiet, natural beauty and picturesque walking trails. Of course, if energized fun and activities are your thing, we offer plenty of that, too!

Check out our floor plans and explore our one-bedroom options, and be sure to learn more about what it means to have the peace of mind of living in a Life Plan Community. You’re also invited to get in touch to schedule a visit. We look forward to meeting you!

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