Start downsizing now to enjoy life later

Homeowners who recognize the need to downsize may not know how to begin the process. There are financial, physical and emotional considerations to downsizing that can make it a difficult process for most people, especially boomers and seniors.

Portland residents Mary and Jerry Spann decided to downsize when they became resentful of the time, energy and expense of maintaining their large home and yard. Their friends were enjoying time on the beach, hiking and bicycling, while they spent a good part of their weekends working to keep their home and yard in good shape.

“It wasn’t that we disliked the work, but there were so many other things we enjoyed more,” said Mary Spann. After decreasing approximately 60 percent of their living space, the Spanns now can spend more time with family and friends, volunteering, traveling and enjoying the outdoors.

They also share what they learned. On April 25, they will present “The Upside of Downsizing Conference” at the Hilton Hotel and Convention Center in Vancouver.

The Spanns’ first piece of advice when downsizing: “Start now, even if you don’t plan to move anytime soon. The process takes more time than you can imagine and the older we get, the harder it becomes,” said Jerry Spann.

Preparing before a crisis happens can be the best gift a boomer or senior can give themselves or their families. Often, though, people struggle to get off the starting blocks. One spouse maybe raring to go—excited about having less work and a greater opportunity to interact with others in a more social environment—while the other spouse may be digging their heels in, refusing to budge.

By clearly understanding the pros and cons of downsizing and identifying the obstacles, spouses can develop an action plan that results in the freedom to continue the next adventure in life. Conflict with children who don’t support their parents’ decision can also be handled the same way so rational decisions are made.

Conference explores successful downsizing

Learn how to gain freedom by downsizing at “The Upside of Downsizing Conference” from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 25, at the Hilton Hotel and Convention Center, 301 W. 6th St., Vancouver.

Industry professionals will talk about the obstacles and challenges of downsizing. They will also provide the necessary steps to making a successful transition into a healthier and manageable living environment. Exhibitors will display services and products for boomers and seniors.

Mary Spann is the founder and owner of The Upside of Downsizing. She has more than 26 years experience in construction, interior design and home staging. Jerry Spann serves as vice president. The couple held the first downsizing conference in Portland in 2010. They’ve presented 34 conferences in Oregon and two in Washington, and are expanding throughout the United States.

Conference cost is $25 per person through April 9 and $35 per person after that. Lunch is included. For information and reservations, go to or call 503-208-9421.