Retirement looms, and a new life-cycle awaits...
Some things will have to change, but how drastic do these changes have to be? Our children are long gone; their rooms still theirs by name.
Part of the problem is the clutter of a lifetime that fills our houses.
Some would also benefit from a bit of renovation.
Knowing this and doing something about it are two different things altogether.
So daunting a task can be easily delayed...
We are very attached to our homes, comfortable, filled with memories, and like an old stuffed armchair, fit us to the tee. There is room for our kids, when they visit on one of their nostalgic return trips, for our grandchildren to run wild in overgrown gardens, and room for friends and family when they visit from faraway places.
All good and well, if we can afford the luxury of maintaining a large home, and have sufficient capital to pay for those unexpected repairs. If that’s a given, staying on is a viable option, especially if we can share the house with a family member, our children, or like-minded friends. Before you do this, de-cluttering is still recommended. Give family documents and photos to someone who should be their keeper for the future. Things we want to keep for now, or give to our children later, pack in crates with the recipient’s names attached and into storage. The rest, sell - on the internet, at auction, in flea markets or give it to charity. Then re-plan your house to provide for your future needs. You may want to include with close family members, in this process. Keep it simple and comfortable with a good flow to a private outdoor area s for each of the sharing parties. It’s like a new life, ready to be enjoyed. Keep it simple and easy to maintain.
The creation of a separate granny flat is always a good idea to use if the need should ever arise.

If staying on is not an option, you will also need to start with the de-cluttering process first.
Once your house is emptied of unnecessary objects you will find it easier to imagine moving to a smaller place. Make your house more saleable while you start looking for a suitable place for retirement.
Ideally it should be in relative close proximity to amenities, friends and family.
You don’t want to be stuck somewhere far away, were you don’t know your way around, and have no-one visiting.
Be certain of where you want to live. Make sure that your new home and its immediate surroundings are what you’ve been looking for, and will cover your future needs.Take your time, look at all your options.
If you can afford it, secure your new home, before you sell your old one. This will give you the time to renovate if required, and also a clearer idea of what to sell and what to keep for the new place. At worst you can rent out your new house for a year, until you sell the old one. If you can’t afford to do this, you might have to sell first, and rent for a while if a new place is not
immediately available.

That’s your decision. But remember, the first step is always to clear the clutter! It’s like paying a last visit to the past while clearing the space for a new, more uncomplicated life. It will clear your mind and help you make the right decisions. Look at what is involved, set a weekly target of what you want to achieve.

Good luck and a happy journey.

Ursula Ehrentraut
Granny of 4 grandchildren, Camps Bay

Ursula is a director of Lew Geffen Sothebys in Sea Point, Cape Town