Many people face a time when relocating also means making a new home in a much smaller space. You might be moving to a small condo from a large home after your children move away, or you might be a young family moving from the affordable Midwest to a large coastal city where your dollars don’t go as far for living expenses.
No matter your reasons, downsizing can be challenging. Many people overestimate how much they will be able to store at their new, smaller home and end up stressed while trying to find a way to sell or manage extras. This guide can help you know how to simplify and achieve your downsizing goals in the weeks leading up to the big move.
Tackle the Forgotten Areas First
When you first contemplate downsizing, you might feel a measure of panic. Looking around your kitchen, you’ll see all the things you use on a daily basis and think, “How will I reduce this?”
However, most downsizing occurs with things that you don’t see or use on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. Start your downsizing in storage areas, attics, basements and garages. Consider selling or donating things like:
- Halloween costumes. These are seldom used, especially if your children are past the age of trick or treating.
- Christmas trees and decorations. Of course you’ll want to be festive in your new place, but you might consider using a real tree that you can recycle after the holidays so you don’t have to store an artificial one when storage space is limited.
- Seldom (or never) used camping gear. Do you have a nice tent that’s only been out a few times in the last decade? It might be time to post it for sale.
- Sporting equipment. Sell off your home gym equipment (treadmills and weight benches take up a lot of room), and budget for a gym membership instead. You may not have the space for a dedicated workout room anymore.
- Old awards and children’s school memories. If you have beloved pictures, create digital copies instead of hanging on to originals that slowly lose their color. Most photos are digital now for shareability and ease of cloud storage.
It’s these stored items that become hard to place in a smaller living space. Tackling them now and reducing your forgotten items to just a few essentials is the first major task. Packing will be easier and moving will likely cost less.
Get Rid of the Maybe Pile
When going through closets, dishes and office supplies, many people have a Definitely Keep pile, a Throw/Give Away pile and a Maybe pile. Most of the things in the Maybe pile are not used as often, but they could be useful. In general, even if something is useful or beautiful, it’s best to assess things based on how much you use them.
For example, if you have two sets of dishes, but one set is always gathering dust while the other is washed daily, you should keep the dishes you use and give the others away, even if the other set is really nice. Your living habits will stay the same at your new home, so you’ll use up space storing the other dish set, just like you do now.
Pass On Gifts and Heirlooms
Are you holding onto precious keepsakes to pass on to your children, friends or other family members? Don’t wait to give them away. Many people save up items to pass on, waiting until after death to allow for an estate plan to divvy up material assets. But when space is limited, you can move up the gift date and bequeath items while you are still alive.
You get to see the reactions of family and you’ll save on storage space — a double win.
Measure Your Space
Sometimes, you tour an apartment once and then you simply have to go by memory when you’re trying to guess how much room you have. So, when you hunt for an apartment or smaller house, take your camera and your measuring tape.
Know the dimensions of your furniture so that you can hopefully find a place that still fits your couches, bed and tables. If finding a place to fit oversized furniture is tough, then you know you need to sell and save for smaller pieces that will work in the new space.
Measuring ahead of time can also help your movers know where things will fit on arrival.
Finally, after tackling storage, gifts and furniture, you may still need to reduce your essentials. First, work by eliminating doubles. If you have two sets of measuring cups, keep one set and give the other set away. Use the same rule for everything: two (or more) winter coats, two pots of the same size, two mixing bowl sets or two copies of the same book.