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10 Tips For How To Downsize Your Home

Laura Gariepy6-Minute Read
July 31, 2020

Take a look around. Does your home suddenly seem too big? Are you overwhelmed by property maintenance or decades worth of accumulated stuff? If you answered yes to either question, it might be time to get a smaller place, or downsize.

Downsizing could be right for you if you’re an empty nester, need to save money on home maintenance, or simply want to embrace minimalism and declutter. This article will show you how to downsize your home worry-free so you can get back to living your life.

1. Give Yourself Ample Time

You didn’t accumulate a house full of stuff overnight, so you can’t expect to figure out how to downsize in a day, either. That means you need to give yourself plenty of time to sort through your belongings, decide what you want to do with them, and then follow through with your plans. To avoid getting overwhelmed, spread this monumental task over a period of several weeks. That way, you can make methodical choices, take plenty of breaks, and feel comfortable with what you’re keeping – and what you’re letting go.

Consider sorting items you’ll need to pack as soon as you decide to move – even if the big day is months away. It’s always less stressful to finish with time to spare instead of waiting until the last minute.

2. Make A Checklist Of Essentials

Even though you’ll be shedding a lot of items, you can’t let go of it all. You’ll still need a core set of belongings that help you live a comfortable life. So, before you get rid of anything, make a checklist of essential items that must go with you to your new home. This list should include things that you’ll use every day like furniture, appliances, dishes, clothing, linens, electronic gadgets, etc. Post this list somewhere you can see and add to it easily, like your fridge. You’re taking that with you, right?

Downsizing your home presents an excellent opportunity to take stock of your essential items. Are those towels looking a little raggedy? Or, maybe it’s time to toss out those ancient, warped frying pans. Whatever the case, get rid of the items that are past their useful life and replace them with newer versions that will last for years to come. You’re starting fresh in your new home, so make sure everything is as perfect as possible!

3. Marie Kondo Your Belongings

Of course, your new house would be pretty empty (and boring) if you only kept the essentials. In order to make your smaller space feel homey, like you belong there, you should take your most prized nonessentials with you, too. These are the items that you hold closest to your heart, such as family heirlooms and keepsakes, your favorite seasonal decor, or pieces of a beloved collection.

But how do you decide which possessions to keep and which to part with it? It can be hard to let things go because everything you own came into your life for a reason. That’s where having a sorting system, like the KonMari Method, comes in handy. Marie Kondo devised a way to decisively rummage through possessions and declutter. The concept is simple: when you hold an item in your hand, does it make you happy? If the answer is no, it’s time to let it go!

Once you know everything that will accompany you to your new space, gather all of the items in one spot. That way, it will be easy to see what you’re taking with you – and how much stuff you still have to gift, sell, donate, or throw away.

4. Digitize Your Memories

If you’re like most people, you have stacks and stacks of photos, movies and important documents stored in different places in your house. Those items take up a surprising amount of space and really add to the clutter that you see. So, as you prepare to downsize, consider digitizing those assets. By saving everything to a hard drive or in the cloud, you can still retain your memories and vital information while ensuring your new place stays tidy.

With a smartphone and a scanner, you can convert your photos and important documents into space-saving digital files. Digitizing your VHS tapes will take a little more doing, but it’s possible. You’ll need a VCR, a converting device, a computer and some spare hours. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with the technology, or just don’t have the time to handle this yourself, there are lots of digitization services out there that can help!

5. Gift, Sell Or Donate Good Quality Items

Once you’ve decided which items won’t be coming to your smaller home, it’s time to say goodbye to them. But – that doesn’t mean throwing everything into the dumpster. Chances are, you have many high-quality items that someone else could enjoy. So, rather than letting them go to waste, consider:

  • Gifting them to friends or family members
  • Donating them to charity, such as Goodwill
  • Selling them on eBay or Craigslist
  • Having a garage sale

If you work it right, all of your old treasures will benefit others. And, you could even make a few bucks in the process!

6. Plan Your New Home’s Layout In Advance

When you downsize, you want to be sure that your new space will work for you. So, before you load that moving truck, take some measurements at your new home. Then, measure your furniture and appliances.

Will everything fit as you’ve envisioned it in your mind? If so, that’s great! But, if not, you’ll need to let some more things go – and possibly purchase smaller versions. While this seems like a chore, you don’t want to realize on moving day that your king-sized bed won’t fit into your smaller bedroom.

7. Consider Your Available Storage

Once your furniture and appliances have a place in your new home, think about how you’ll store the rest of your belongings. Do you have adequate cabinetry and closet space? If the storage solutions in your new home are lacking, don’t worry. There are lots of creative ways to stow away your stuff, such as:

  • Adding a storage bench to your entryway
  • Getting living room furniture that doubles as storage – think ottomans
  • Putting up shelving in your garage or bathroom
  • Hanging hooks for pots and pans in the kitchen
  • Buying bins and drawer organizers for your bedroom closet

However, if you still have too many possessions for your smaller space, you can rent a storage unit. That way, you get to keep those important items that don’t get used every day. Just make sure that your storage unit is close to your new home so you can access your belongings easily. In addition, it’s probably wise to pay a little extra for a climate-controlled unit. This ensures that your stored items will be in good condition when you’re ready to use them again.

8. Set Clutter Control Rules

When you’re about to downsize your living space, avoid the temptation to buy anything that isn’t completely necessary – even if you really, really want it. Adding more stuff to the pile will make your upcoming move more challenging, which is the last thing that you want. You don’t have to stop shopping forever, though. When you find an item you love, add it to your wish list and purchase it once you’ve settled into your new home.

However, remember that you’re moving to a smaller space for a reason. So, make sure anything that you buy supports your desired lifestyle and easily fits into your new place. That way, you can comfortably live the simpler, clutter-free life you’ve dreamed about.

9. Enlist The Help Of Loved Ones

Downsizing your home is a massive undertaking and can be stressful if you’re doing it all on your own. So, if possible, enlist your family members and friends to help ease your burden. Chances are, they’ll be happy to step up and pitch in.

Depending on their skills and your preferences, you could have them do things like:

  • Organize items by category for your review
  • Help you make decisions about what to keep
  • Digitize your photos, videos and documents
  • Transport donated goods to charities
  • Run a yard sale to sell your items
  • Measure your new home and large belongings
  • Implement storage solutions in your new space
  • Find a storage facility close to your new home
  • Pack the items you will be taking
  • Coordinate and participate in your move
  • Provide moral support

The possibilities are endless. So – assemble your downsizing team and get to work. Your upcoming move just got a whole lot easier – and likely more fun, too!

10. View Downsizing As A Process

As you’re navigating how to downsize, remember: you don’t have to get it perfect on the first go-around. In fact, it’s best to view it as a process. Your home is a reflection of your life story – and parting with any of it can be painful.

So, if you’re not sure about some of your belongings, you should delay getting rid of them. As you settle into your new space and start writing the next chapter of your story, you’ll discover which items play a pivotal role, and which don’t. Now, when you find something that doesn’t add value to your life, you know several different ways that you can dispose of it.

Summary

Figuring out how to downsize can be daunting. But, if you follow these tips, you’ll be able to keep what matters most to you and move into your smaller space without getting overwhelmed. Just remember downsizing is a marathon – not a sprint. And, it’s more than OK to ask for support during this challenging time.

For more home and lifestyle tricks, check out our tips for homeowners section on the Rocket HomesSM blog.

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Laura Gariepy

Laura Gariepy is the Owner of Every Day by the Lake, LLC, a freelance written content creation company that helps busy business owners stay top of mind with their target audience. She is also a coach to aspiring freelancers and has recently launched a signature private coaching program called Before You Go Freelance. When not writing or coaching, Laura loves to travel and spend time by the lake with her family.