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Ask McEnearney: How do I start the downsizing process?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How do I start the downsizing process?

Answer: We all know that life is short. There will inevitably be a time when we get to a point at which we can no longer be responsible for our belongings. Whether it’s death, disease, or simply downsizing due to mobility, at some point we will all need to rely on others. Someday we will leave behind our belongings, and someone we love will need to deal with them.

It’s a much better idea to address these concerns sooner rather than later, to alleviate the burden on our family, friends, and future selves.

Below is a guide for those of us who may be planning to downsize, or who may be responsible for a loved one’s belongings at some point in the future.

Before it’s time

Whether you or your family members are thinking of downsizing in the next five months, or five years, there are a few things that you can do now to help make the process go more smoothly — whenever it will start.

First, have a conversation with your loved ones! This is a collaborative project that everyone should be involved in. If you are a parent, your children may want to be involved in dividing up items that are leaving the home. You may have friends that will cherish certain things of yours. This can be an emotional process, and it’s much easier to work through before downsizing is imminent, to minimize stress and to set expectations.

In my experience, it can often happen that parents hold onto certain items, like furniture or cutlery sets, to pass on to their children. In most of these cases though, they haven’t actually told their children that these items are intended for them, and the children don’t necessarily want them. So, ask them now and get rid of the things that they don’t really want on your own.

When it’s time

Here are some of our favorite experts, that you may want to enlist to help in the process:

  • Estate Sales: Maybe there are collector’s items that are worth selling at auction. Maybe there are a lot of things that can be sold in an estate sale, or just taken to a warehouse and sold there. Four Sales is a wonderful, local company who can help with all of this.
  • Junk Removal: For whatever is leftover and can’t be sold, 123Junk will haul it away. They are just as careful as movers and will even empty your junk drawer. It’s as easy as sticking tape on cabinets!
  • Mover: For everything else, you’ll need a mover. Hildrup Movers will even pack up part of the home and come back a month or so later in case you want to leave furniture for staging during a home sale.
  • Realtor: Even if you’re not planning on buying a new home, your realtor will connect you with their trusted contacts, as I have done here. Realtors can also help with referrals to senior living communities if that’s the direction you’re going.


Celebrate the future! It’s exciting to move into a new stage of life, and it’s important to acknowledge that while often a little stressful, this can be an exciting time. I work with many clients going through this transition — choosing a more simplified lifestyle with less maintenance, and less clutter is always a good thing!

Ready to start your own downsizing journey? Join us on April 11 at our Downsizing & Planning for the Future event for expert tips from a Professional Organizer, an Estate Sale Owner, Local Moving Experts, a Junk Removal Expert and The Peele Group at McEnearney — Kim and Hope Peele & Nancy Smith!

This will be an informative session on how to get started and accomplish your goals, with time for Q&A.

When: April 11 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. with extra time for Q&A.
Where: James Duncan Library, 2701 Commonwealth Avenue. Space is LImited. RSVP required — [email protected].

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many-faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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