The vicissitudes of life sometimes lead us to leave cramped accommodation for a large home, but also to perform the opposite operation, a situation with which our elders in particular must deal. But there is no magic, only a tautology: if it doesn’t fit… it doesn’t fit. How to organize yourself well to make the transition less painful? A guide signed by a professional experienced in putting the big dishes in the small ones could enlighten you.
Jocelyne Jolicœur Raymond resided for more than 50 years in her family home in Coteau-du-Lac. With these 5,000 sq. ft. spread over three levels, space to store furniture and objects has never been lacking. “We always had room to add more, with ‘just in case’ piling up,” says the 79-spring lady. Unfortunately, with the hospitalization of her husband, the maintenance of such a large home had become unmanageable. Ms. Jolicœur Raymond resigned herself to selling the residence to move into a 4 and a half rental, located on the ground floor of a house in Saint-Zotique. Although the rooms are spacious and she has access to a full basement, the change in scale forced her to make sacrifices.
“I had lots and lots of stuff in my house. My children ordered a container and we threw away a lot. It sure does a little something,” she recalls. The lady, who managed to save (in part) the furniture, still managed this difficult transition at the cost of continuous efforts for herself and her loved ones. Because moving to a smaller place is no small feat…
Cases like that of Mrs. Jolicoeur Raymond, Marie-Christine Fortin sees them pass by whole boxes all year long. This certified personal property appraiser and founder of Evolia Transition, a company that helps manage this kind of move, recently recorded her valuable experience in a guide, Moving into smaller without worry.
In a very concrete way, Ms. Fortin explains where to start, how to carry out the sometimes daunting task of sorting, what to do with the surplus or the best way to plan the transition. For a single person living in an average-sized house, the professional estimates that some 200 hours are needed to complete everything. His first piece of advice: get started as soon as possible. “When the date is already determined, some will need to write everything down and rationalize to see through it. If there is no time constraint, but we know that the transition will eventually prevail, we can go by objectives, for example taking care of the small room under the stairs, ” she advises.
His book emphasizes the trying conditions in which this ordeal can occur: death of a spouse, placement in an institution, illness, financial problems, etc.
Nerve of war, sorting can twist your mind, which is why it occupies a prominent place in the book of the evaluator. She recommends proceeding in small sessions, piece by piece, choosing the time of day when you are most effective. Not easy, because the sentimental value confuses the tracks and leads us to want to keep everything, which is impossible. “When in doubt, we can drop a shelf or drawer that discourages us, or do two or three sortings of that space. If our intuition tells us to keep the object for the moment, then we could pack it up and move it, even if it means redoing the sorting quietly once installed and the pressure has passed,” she says.
Jocelyne Jolicoeur Raymond can testify to this, she who had to put in a dumpster some belongings that were dear to her. “When you’ve been in a place for a long time, it’s very difficult to mourn. I had three big beautiful pictures of me that I had to get rid of, it ripped my heart out,” she laments.
For furniture, taking measurements and drawing scale plans will increase your chances of succeeding in this Tetris game. Mrs. Jolicoeur Raymond did well, but had to say goodbye to the furniture in her children’s rooms and resell several leather armchairs. “The catch, especially in estate cases, is that all the family heirlooms are going to talk to us. When it’s a complete house, you have to set limits, like allowing yourself three boxes of souvenirs, no more. You also have to know how to listen to his feelings, ”tags Ms. Fortin.
Technology can also help in some cases, with the digitization of photo albums and slides, or the use of an e-reader or tablet to unclog your library to keep only essential physical books.
Other chapters of the book discuss outlets for getting rid of the tricky aspect of overflow. You can certainly transfer the property to your family, but the evaluator notes that in 90% of situations, the children are already provided with furniture and do not want it. So you have to think of a plan B, like a charity, schools, internet donations, landfill… “It’s become a real headache, and there is no solution easy,” laments Ms. Fortin.
Regarding resale, the professional does not have good news: we tend to overestimate our accumulated goods, making it difficult to distinguish between sentimental value and market value. This is especially true for antiques, which have lost 90-95% of their popularity over the past two years. There may be nuggets in the lot, but in most cases, even if some items were a significant investment at the time, their value has plummeted. “If it is not a piece of furniture that is sought after or up to date, reselling it will be difficult,” warns Ms. Fortin.
Mrs. Jolicoeur Raymond unfortunately had to face this reality, obtaining for her paintings and works of art “only crumbs”. But what concerns her most is knowing that she will have to repeat the general skimming exercise, already thinking about her next move, where she will have to “say ciao to [her] piano”. “I constantly think about it, I don’t feel like going to the chicken coop of an RPA [private residence for seniors]. When we have to leave our big houses, the choices are not attractive, we would like to have small bungalows, not glued condos”, she launches in a cry from the heart.