10 Tips On How To Downsize Your Home
Erin Gobler9-Minute Read
PUBLISHED: April 04, 2023
Downsizing to a smaller home is a big – and often emotional decision. Maybe you’re moving to a smaller home because you’re going through a life transition. Or maybe you’ve simply looked around and realized you have more space than you need.
Downsizing comes with plenty of benefits, but it can also be a lot of work. We can help by sharing ten tips to help you downsize your home.
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What Is ‘Downsizing?’
Downsizing is the process of moving to a smaller home. It could be that you’re simply moving to a smaller house, moving from a house to an apartment or condo, or even moving from your current home into a tiny home or RV.
Common Reasons For Downsizing
There are many reasons someone might decide to downsize their home. Sometimes it’s just a matter of wanting less space or wanting to save money. In other cases, you might be downsizing out of necessity. Here are a few common reasons people decide to downsize:
- Divorce: After a divorce, it’s usually the case that either one spouse stays in the home, or they both move out and sell the home. Either way, one or both spouses might decide to move to a smaller home for budgetary reasons or simply because they don’t need as much space.
- Money savings: Money is one of the most common reasons people downsize. When you move to a smaller home, there’s a good chance you’ll also have a smaller mortgage. Not only will you pay less for the home overall, but you’ll also have smaller monthly payments.
- Less home maintenance: Maintaining a home – especially a large one – can be a lot of work. If you no longer can or want to spend your time on home maintenance, then it makes sense to downsize. You may even downsize to an apartment where the landlord takes care of all the maintenance.
- Minimalism: In the past couple of decades, minimalism has become a major trend. People have realized they have more space and more belongings than they truly need, and so they decide to downsize.
- Life transition: Divorce is one life transition that could cause someone to downsize, but it’s not the only one. Maybe your kids have gone to college and you’re now an empty nester with more space than you need. Or perhaps you’re moving to a different city altogether, and you end up buying a smaller home.
How To Downsize Your Home
If you’re planning to downsize your home, you’ve got some work ahead of you. Here are some tips to make the process easier.
1. Start As Early As You Can
You don’t accumulate a house full of stuff overnight, so you can’t expect yourself to figure out how to downsize in a day, either. Instead, you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time to sort through your belongings, decide what to do with them and then follow through with your plans.
To avoid getting overwhelmed, spread this monumental task out 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 spare time instead of waiting until the last minute.
2. Take A Full Inventory
As you’re decluttering your home, take a full inventory of your belongings. It’s helpful to have a list or spreadsheet you can look at to help you decide what’s important. It can also help avoid a situation where you accidentally keep three of an item when you only need one.
Having an inventory of your items can also be helpful when you get to your new home. You’ll have a full and accurate list of all your belongings and can use that to find a new home for everything.
Finally, your inventory will be helpful when it comes to getting rid of the items you no longer want. Are you planning to hold a garage sale to sell off some of your belongings? Thanks to your inventory, you’ve already got a written list of the items you’re selling.
3. Determine Your Essentials
Even though you’ll be shedding a lot of items, you can’t let go of everything. You’ll still need a core set of belongings that helps you live a comfortable life. So before you get rid of everything, 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, linen, electronic gadgets and more. Post this list somewhere you can see and add to it easily, like your fridge.
Downsizing your home also presents an excellent opportunity to take stock of your essential items. Are those towels looking a bit raggedy? Or maybe it’s time to toss out those ancient, warped frying pans.
Whatever the case, you can get rid of the items that are past their useful life and replace them with newer versions that will last for years to come.
4. Consider Your Sentimental Items
Many of the items you bring to your new home will be those that serve an important function, such as your furniture or your dishes. But you probably also want to bring some sentimental items.
These could include your family photo albums or the family heirloom you received from your late grandmother. While these items may not serve a purpose in your day-to-day life, they’re still important to you.
That being said, you may not decide to keep every sentimental item. You may have some items that you’ve kept because they were gifts from loved ones or art projects that your child made in elementary school. Only you can decide what’s important enough to keep.
5. Take One Room At A Time
The thought of decluttering and downsizing your entire house probably seems overwhelming, and that’s because it is. But don’t think of it as downsizing your entire house. Just look at it one room at a time. After all, the thought of just downsizing your office probably seems a lot more manageable than the entire house.
Going room by room will also help the unpacking process when you arrive at your new home. Because you packed each room together, you can easily unpack the boxes in the appropriate room after your move.
6. Get Rid Of Duplicates
One of the easiest ways to declutter your space is to get rid of duplicates. Many of us probably have at least a few items in our house that we have several versions of when we really only need one.
For example, do you have three slow cookers in your cupboard? Ask yourself whether you’ve ever used all three at the same time or whether you really just use one on a regular basis. Unless you’re using all the items, you can probably safely get rid of the duplicates.
7. Digitize Where Possible
If you’re like most people, you have stacks of photos and important documents stored in different places in your home. Those items take up a surprising amount of space and only add to the clutter that you see.
As you prepare to downsize, consider digitizing those assets instead of keeping the hard copies. 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. You can even digitize your home videos that are on VHS tapes, but that might take a bit more work.
If you don’t feel comfortable enough with technology to do all the digitizing yourself, you can easily enlist the help of a digitization service that can handle it for you.
8. Measure Your Furniture
Before hauling all your belongings to your new home, you’ll first want to make sure they’ll actually fit. It’s important to measure any furniture you plan to bring to see where it would fit in your new home (and if it will fit at all).
Trust me – you’ll be glad to have measured ahead of time if it turns out any of your furniture is too big. Instead of hauling it to your new home, only to have to make other arrangements, you can get rid of that piece before you move it and plan to buy a piece that fits your new home.
9. Donate, Sell Or Give Away 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 have to mean throwing everything in the dumpster. Chances are that 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
- Selling them on Facebook Marketplace
- Having a garage sale
10. Consider Storage Options
Once your furniture and appliances have a place in your new home, think about storage ideas for 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 ottoman
- 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 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.
That being said, before renting a storage unit, make sure you really need those items. It doesn’t make sense to pay to store items that will sit in a storage unit for years to come if you don’t ever have a plan to use them.
Additional Downsizing Tips For Homeowners
As you’re planning to downsize your home, there are a few additional tips that can help you along the way.
Plan Your New Lifestyle
When you downsize, you want to be sure your new space and lifestyle will work for you. 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 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.
Don’t Do It All Alone
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 that 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
- Help in the process of hiring movers
- Measure your new home and large belongings
- Implement storage solutions in your new home
- 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
Avoid Cluttering Your New Home
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.
In addition to avoiding buying new items before your move, try to limit your purchases once you’re in your new home. You worked so hard to declutter your items to make your new home tidy, and the last thing you want is to just let the clutter build up again.
Of course, that doesn't mean you can never buy anything again. Just make sure anything you buy supports your new desired lifestyle and easily fits into your new place. That way, you can comfortably live the simpler, clutter-free life you’ve dreamed about.
Pros And Cons Of Downsizing Your Home
Downsizing your home is a major decision. And while it has some clear benefits, there are also some downsides to consider.
- You can save money on your mortgage payment, utility bills, property taxes and other living expenses.
- You’re forced to reduce your belongings, allowing you to live a more minimalist lifestyle.
- A smaller home comes with less maintenance.
- You can make money by selling some of your belongings.
- If you’re nearing your older years, downsizing could make your home safer and easier to navigate.
- Moving can be expensive, especially if you’re making a long-distance move or hiring professional movers.
- A smaller home could result in having to rent a storage space.
- A smaller home will force you to get rid of living in less space.
- You may not be able to host family and friends like you could in a larger home.
- You may feel sad leaving behind a home where your family has years of memories.
The Bottom Line
Downsizing your home is a major undertaking, especially if you’re moving from a very large home or one you’ve lived in for many years. But by starting the process early and going about it in a methodical way, you can make the process go a lot more smoothly.
And as you’re working on downsizing your current home, it’s also important to start planning for the new one. You can get a head start by starting the application process today.
Take the first step towards buying a house.
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