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The Complete Checklist for Seniors Downsizing

Downsizing at any age is a challenge, but downsizing for seniors can be even more difficult. While there are many reasons you might choose to downsize yourself or a loved one, it can be hard to accept major changes later in life, particularly if those changes are a necessity rather than a choice. 

Whether you are a senior who is downsizing or you’re a family member assisting with the process, downsizing can be overwhelming, and it can be tough to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve created our most comprehensive checklist for downsizing seniors. 

Let’s get started.

Checklist for Seniors Downsizing

At Moves for Seniors, we specialize in downsizing. We help seniors and their family members work through their belongings to declutter and separate items into various categories, such as:

  • Things to keep (that can fit into the new space)
  • Things to send/give to family members
  • Things to donate
  • Things to discard

We can also help you create an inventory list of all the items you intend to keep, donate, sell or discard. To help you get started, we’ve created a number of lists of common household items you’ll need to sort through as you declutter, including:

  • Paperwork
  • Clothes
  • Furniture and electronics
  • Appliances and kitchenware
  • Memberships and subscriptions
  • Outdoor items such as vehicles, landscaping equipment, and furniture

Some of these items will go with you, and some won’t be needed at your new home. We recommend starting early so you can work through these lists on your own schedule—tackling the task of downsizing one step at a time can make it feel less overwhelming. 


Sorting through paperwork can be one of the more labor-intensive tasks when decluttering, but it’s also one of the most important. Take the time you need to sort through and safely set aside important documents, such as:

  • Names and contact information of your doctor, dentist, attorney, accountant, financial advisor, and insurance agent
  • Personal assets, such as savings accounts, pension or retirement plan income, stocks, bonds, insurance policies, titles to cars, boats, homes, etc.
  • Pictures of your personal possessions (tracking each item’s value can be helpful if you need to file an insurance claim)
  • List of any personal liabilities
  • Copies of federal and state income tax returns dating back five years (anything older than that can be shredded)
  • Social Security and Medicare cards, passport, and birth certificate
  • Trusts or wills, including durable power of attorney and advance directives


Choose only the items you’ve worn in the last 12 months:

  • Coats, jackets (something for each season)
  • Shoes, boots (also for each season)
  • Shirts, pants, shorts, etc.
  • Hats, gloves, and scarves
  • Socks, underwear, and accessories

If you’ll be moving to a warmer climate than you’re used to, you can sell or donate your cold-weather wear. You may also want to leave it with family members who remain in colder climates so that you have something to wear when you visit. 

Furniture & Electronics

Consider the space you (or your loved one) is moving into, then choose the most important items that will fit into the new space. If you are moving to a Senior Living Community, ask them for a floor plan, if there are existing furnishings in your unit, and if there are things that youa re not allowed to bring.

  • Couch, chairs, or loveseat
  • Coffee and side tables
  • Dinette set or kitchen table and chairs
  • Lamps 
  • Storage stands and shelving
  • Desk or workspace
  • TVs
  • Stereos and speakers
  • Other media devices (CD, DVD, BluRay, and record players) 
  • Computers and accessories (printers, keyboards, mice, cables)


If you are moving to a Senior Living Community, ask them for a floor plan, if there are existing furnishings in your unit, and if there are things that you are not allowed to bring. And if you still you aren’t sure what to bring and what to let go of, our senior downsizing specialists can help you decide. We can create the new floor plan with your itemsalso create a floorplan of the new space so that you can visualize where your furniture will go, including specific measurements and advice about how much space to leave for clear and safe paths. 

Appliances and Kitchenware

Downsizing as or with a senior often includes minimizing the number of appliances, either because they are no longer needed, or possibly because they are not permitted at the new senior living community. Ask the new community if they have any restrictions and then sort through the following items to determine what you have space for and what you can do without:

  • Toaster
  • Toaster oven
  • Convection oven
  • Deep fryer
  • Air fryer
  • Dehydrator
  • Mixer
  • Microwave
  • Breadmaker
  • Coffee maker
  • Crockpot
  • Skillet
  • Hot plate
  • Kettle 
  • Dishes
  • Glasses
  • Mugs
  • Cookware
  • Flatware
  • Pots and pans
  • Cookbooks
  • Slicers and dicers
  • Silverware
  • China

Outdoor Items 

Now that you’ve downsized a good part of the inside of your home, it’s time to downsize all the outdoor stuff you no longer need. If you’re moving to a senior living community, chances are you’ll be able to donate, sell, or discard many or all of these items. 

Vehicles & Accessories

  • Car, truck, van
  • Golf cart, go kart
  • Motorcycle
  • Snowmobile
  • Quad, trike
  • Motorhome
  • Bicycle
  • Trailer
  • Tires
  • Tractor
  • Boat, motor 
  • Gas cans, oil


  • Push and/or riding lawn mower
  • Weed whacker
  • Rakes, shovels, trimmers
  • Planter pots, stakes
  • Gardening tools
  • Snowblower 
  • Bricks, patio stones

Furniture and Equipment

  • Patio table, chairs, sofas, umbrella
  • Gazebo 
  • Swing set, playground equipment
  • BBQ, smoker
  • Rugs
  • Lighting
  • Fencing 

Things To Cancel Memberships and Subscriptions

As you begin to change your address, you may find some memberships or subscriptions that can be canceled. We know that canceling memberships isn’t really a “downsizing” task, but it’s an important part of the moving process and it’s easy to overlook when you’re busy decluttering and discarding your belongings, so as you declutter, take a look through these institutions and make note of what you (or your family member) will keep and need to update and what is no longer needed

Financial Institutions

  • Credit reporting systems
  • Banks
  • Investment broker
  • Insurance companies
  • Lenders


  • Department of Revenue (IRS)
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Business license office (for small or home businesses)
  • US Post Office

Memberships and Subscriptions

  • Professional associations
  • Publications, subscriptions
  • Civic organizations
  • House of worship
  • Health club
  • Social or country clubs
  • Newspaper or magazine subscriptions
  • Mail order subscriptions

Service Providers

  • Accountant
  • Attorney
  • Cleaning service
  • Lawn care/landscaper
  • Physicians
  • Veterinarian
  • Cable, Internet

Wrapping Up

Downsizing often begins with a home full of memories, and sorting and decluttering can be a time-consuming job. While there’s no one specific way you should tackle your downsizing project, we can offer up these simple, yet very important, tips:

  • Don’t try to do it all in one day—start early to give yourself time to tackle it slowly.
  • Make a plan, and ask for help for when you declutter and organize your items. If you’re struggling to handle the task yourself, senior downsizing specialists can help.
  • Before donating or tossing items, ask loved ones and friends if they want anything you’re preparing to part with.
  • Take pictures of where you keep items in your current home so it’s easier to set up a familiar space in your new home. Senior move specialists can help you create a floorplan if you’re having trouble visualizing your new space. 
  • Prepare for moving day—pack an essentials bag with important paperwork, sleepwear, medications, toiletries, and anything else you’ll need for the first night in your new home.

Facilitation services can help you and/or your loved ones sort through, donate or discard belongings. An organizer can make greater progress with keep, donate, and discard decisions than someone more intimately associated with the memories.