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Tips on how to downsize, donate, and deal

When Marie LeBlanc founded Transitions Liquidation Services Inc. in Hyannis in 2002, it was one of three senior-move management companies in Massachusetts; today, there are 37 businesses in the state that manage residential downsizing. Here, she offers tips on preparing for the move:

■  Do it now. Don’t wait until you have an emergency and must move out of the home where you have lived for decades.

■  Start the conversation. Expect conflict. Anticipate negotiation. You are reengineering your life as a couple, redefining your relationship when you move into a smaller space, and letting go of possessions that won’t fit in the new home.

■  Think forward. Consider five to eight years as your horizon. Look at communities that include a continuum of options — independent living, assisted living, a memory unit, skilled nursing. You and your partner won’t age in the same way; if a variety of options are available, should one of you need additional or special care, you can live in the same community if not in the same home.


■  Shop as if you were looking for a college. Visit. Stay overnight. Join an activity to get a feel for the neighbors. Are these your kind of people? Are you going to feel comfortable here?

■  Find out what your stuff is worth and who wants it. Talk with your adult children about what they want to take, and decide what to sell or give away. Consider the toll on your kids if you don’t do this.

■  Create a scaled floor plan. Before you move, figure out what will fit.

■  Hire a reputable moving company. This isn’t the time to look for bargains. Engage a company with experience and a reputation for moving downsizers. You want movers who understand the emotions and complexity of this type of move. Contact the National Association of Senior Move Managers at .

Where to donate/sell

Downsizers have three options for unloading the things they won’t have room for: sell, donate, or toss out. Here are only some of the organizations that accept donations and websites where you can sell items:


■  Savers (

■  Goodwill Industries International Inc. (

■  Epilepsy Foundation (

■  Big Brother Big Sister Foundation (

■  Bikes Not Bombs (

■  The First Tee Massachusetts, for golf equipment (

■  Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston ReStore (


■  Everything But The House (

■  MaxSold (


■  Chairish (

■  Consignment shops

— Hattie Bernstein