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You just dropped off the kid at college. You drive into your driveway, which used to accommodate a fleet of vehicles but now fits only two. When you enter the house, you won’t have to worry about stumbling over any hockey gear that has been left in the foyer.

It’s not a mess on the coffee table since there’s no homework lying about. Upstairs, you won’t find any teens making noise.

It’s common for empty-nesters to begin their new phase of life by sobbing into a bowl of ice cream and flipping through old photo albums. Although the place has changed, it is still considered a home by its inhabitants.

There’s still a good chance that the kids will visit on holidays and vacations, and maybe even more frequently if you’re lucky whenever they need to do laundry. Here are some ways to lessen the mental and physical load of downsizing as you adjust to life as an empty nester.


At long last, you have the time and energy to devote to a thorough cleaning and arranging of your home. The first thing to do if you’re considering downsizing your house is to get rid of unnecessary items.

CityStash reports that 75% of people questioned are hesitant to relocate due to the volume of their personal belongings. You shouldn’t be discouraged by that. Do it one space (a room, a closet, a foot) at a time.


The clothes you haven’t gotten rid of since 1995 are collecting dust in your closet. When will bell bottoms be trendy again?

Get your significant other or some pals together and open a bottle of wine for a fashion display. You’ll have a great time wearing your shoulder-padded jackets from the ’80s and baggy GUESS jeans from the ’90s.

Throw away any clothing or footwear that you haven’t worn in a year. You may make a good sum by selling your gently used name-brand items on Poshmark or to a local consignment shop.

Create a collection of fun things your daughter may enjoy. Throw the rest of your stuff away or give it to a charity.


You have multiple boxes of mac and cheese, at least 17 cans of assorted beans, and a considerable quantity of Taco Bell spicy sauce packets in your cupboard. Over half of this stock is either stale or past its expiration date.

Donate it to a food pantry if it’s in decent condition but you just won’t consume it. The rule of thumb is to throw it out or put it in the compost if it has expired.

Over time, kitchens may accumulate a plethora of unnecessary (or at least underutilized) appliances and tools. The blender you never use, the bizarre banana hanging you received as a present (you don’t like bananas), the avocado cutter you’ll never use, etc., should all find a new home in a Goodwill box (even though a knife works just fine).

Assemble a “starting kit” for your children if you have various sets of kitchenware. Don’t forget the cutlery, plates, and cooking utensils. They may be in need of a first apartment set up not too far in the future even if they are now living in a dorm.


The chests of drawers and desks were put to good use when the children were living at home, but now that they have moved out, you have a lot of spare furniture. Try holding a garage sale one weekend, or listing a few items on sites like OfferUp or Craigslist.

Keep the mainstays like mattresses and nightstands while getting rid of the furniture that has no aesthetic purpose. There is no longer a requirement for three separate workstations when doing assignments.


Everything from your birth certificate to gas station receipts has been carefully preserved. The originals of some documents (such as those relating to one’s birth) must be kept for legal reasons. You can probably just record and trash other items, like gas station receipts.

Bills, cheques, tax returns, and medical documents fall into the intermediate category and may be scanned and shredded.

Acquire a lightweight scanner and store your most vital documents on a removable drive. Get rid of all the file boxes cluttering up your workplace and garage.


Now is the time to make photo books if you’ve been hoarding stacks of printed photos. Produce photo books with services like Shutterfly or Blurb by scanning images into a computer. Put your 4×6 photographs in books with protective sleeves if you have any.

It will be handy to have on hand for when your kid brings home his college girlfriend and you want to show her all the humiliating moments from the talent show.


After years of adolescents sleeping on it, spilling coffee on it, and drawing in ballpoint pen all over it, your couch is looking a bit worse for wear. You also didn’t want to paint till your kids stopped touching the walls constantly. That moment, however, is now.

Get some paint chips and swatches from your local paint supply shop. Decide on a daring hue (such as a rich blue or green) or keep it simple (off-white, beige, or light gray).

Greenery is Pantone’s choice for Color of the Year. It doesn’t matter what you do, your clean fingerprints will just enhance the fresh colour.

Purchase a brand new sofa, hunt down an armchair at the Sunday flea market, and update the artwork over the dining room’s buffet with some fresh new additions. Do not fear that clumsy and thoughtless teens will be crashing through your new adult home.


Where formerly there were wrestling contests and card games, now there is peace and quiet. Place a huge area rug in the room to block off the space, reduce the echo, and increase the coziness factor. The advice on colours and sizes provided by NW Rugs is invaluable.

A plant may instantly transform a cold room into a warm and inviting oasis. Put a fiddle fig tree in a spare room corner. Put a potted herb garden on the kitchen table, an air plant on the sink, and a ZZ Plant (which thrives in low light) in the laundry room.


Many people who have children move out of their homes but do not want to give up their old bedrooms. But why take up an unnecessary room?

You’d like it if your college student came home occasionally, so keep in mind that they may use the guest room if they want to.

When the kids come home for the holidays, they’ll be delightfully diverted from the schoolwork they’ve accumulated during a break by seeing old friends and participating in fun family activities.

One or two of those spare bedrooms may be perfect for your newfound passion. Since you were 16 years old, you’ve probably wanted a dedicated craft space where you can have your glue gun out at all times. For the first time in 18 years, you may set up your model train collection in the living room!


No need to hush up at 9 p.m. You may rest easy knowing that none of your adolescent males will be sneaking beer up the stairs in their hoodie pockets. The next day of school isn’t going to need you to rush the kids out the door.

You don’t have to worry about curfews, schoolwork, or nosy teenagers when you invite actual grownups around for games and chat.

If you aren’t already familiar with them, your neighbours are worth taking the time to get to know. To socialize with other recent empty nesters, have a dinner party.


Being free from the obligation to coordinate vacations with a busy work schedule is just one perk of not having minor children. Make preparations in advance for the times you want to take a trip.

What about grass maintenance? Which pool? What about your furry family members? Find a dog sitter in your area by word of mouth (from neighbours, friends, or a trusted dog sitter).

Once you have a routine down, whether it’s for a weekend trip or a month in Europe, you can simply implement it with minimal notice.


The moment has come (at last) for you to catch up on some reading. You’ve spent years compiling a reading list, and now it’s time to really give it to them.

Every textbook, every “free with cereal” picture book, and every magazine published in the last decade has found its way into your personal library. It has to be trimmed back a bit.

Be sure to count everything you own. Gather all the books you wish to read into one master list. Think about what you want to buy and what you can borrow from the library. Then you should get rid of all the books on your shelves that you have no intention of reading.

Either put them up for auction on eBay.com, drive them to your nearest secondhand bookshop, or pack them up and send them to Goodwill.


It’s possible that your large home is actually too much for your family. You’re all sleeping in separate rooms, the corridors echo when you chat, and you keep hearing noises in the middle of the night that you used to attribute to children but now know must be something else.

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