Downsizing your home is daunting. Take the stress of moving and compound it with the emotional challenge of going through years (in some cases decades) worth of stuff. For some, downsizing comes with the third difficulty of dealing with loss, whether it be loss of a loved one, loss of the kids moving out, or loss of the physical ability to go up and down stairs.
Tip #1: Give yourself time
Downsizing should be a process—not an event—so start early.
Most people wait too long until they have to downsize in a state of trauma or emergency or challenge versus doing it preemptively and actually enjoying it. Taking your time with the downsize will make the event less stressful, allowing you a bigger window to evaluate which items you really need before moving into your new home.
Tip #2: Measure your new space and evaluate your storage options
Before moving, measure your new space and scope out opportunities to increase storage so you know exactly how much space you’ll have for your belongings.
Tip #3: Use a set of evaluation questions to help you declutter
Start by writing a list of questions to help you evaluate what stays and what goes.
- Have I used this in the last six months?
- Is it something that I actually use or something that I want to use?
- Can I replace this item easily and inexpensively if I change my mind?
- Is the time I spend maintaining this item and the space it takes up worth the joy it brings me?
- Does this item propel me to my goals?
Question list in hand, start decluttering from the least-used to the most-used areas of your home. It will be easier to get rid of items in your excess storage spaces since you use them less frequently. If you’re feeling reluctant to get rid of your stuff, try starting with areas of little emotional attachment such as the linen cabinets to ease into the process.
Tip #4: Sell your furniture to the new buyers
The easiest way to get rid of existing furniture you don’t want to haul to your next place is to sell it to the future owners of your home. In most cases, it’s better to offer furniture after negotiations for the home have finished. Buyers will negotiate to a certain price within their budget for the house first and if we include the furniture or extra appliances in that negotiation, the seller won’t necessarily get any more money.
Tip #5: Digitize documents and pictures
It’s amazing how much space paper-thin documents and photos can take up once accumulated. Convert your photos, carousel slides, and negatives to digital copies. Once converted, display your memories on digital picture frames. Each frame can hold thousands of photos playing on rotation, easily managed with a flash drive or frame specific app.
Tip #6: Keep your favorite sentimental items and give the rest to family
One of the hardest parts of downsizing is deciding what to do with sentimental items.
Instead of dreading it, embrace it as a time for reflection you can share with your loved ones. Go through your daughter’s old school projects and baby shoes with her. You’ll share a laugh when you find the macaroni decorated popsicle frame she made for you in kindergarten, but neither of you need to keep it.
Remember, you can ditch the item without ditching the memory, just snap a picture for future reminiscing and let it go.
Tip #7: Get free moving boxes from almost anywhere
You can get many boxes for free from restoration companies or you ask your workplace if they have any boxes first. Asking retailers for boxes is another great option as most stores have a regular supply from weekly shipments. Bookstores, grocery stores, liquor shops, and large retailers like Costco, Staples, etc.
Tip #8: Partner up with a real estate agent who’s well-versed in the downsizing process
Working with an agent who has proven success helping clients downsize will make the entire process smoother. To start, a top agent will ensure you get the most money out of your current house by suggesting effective home improvements, assisting with staging, and targeting the best listing price for the market. When it’s time to buy, your agent can help you find and negotiate a win for a home you love so your downsize doesn’t feel like a downgrade. Find the agent with the strongest downsizing background in your area.
Tip #9: Focus on the positives of moving
It’s OK to feel emotional during the downsizing process. Letting go of excess belongings and extra rooms is difficult, but remember you’ll still hold the memories associated with them.
Instead of focusing on loss, focus on what you are gaining from the move: a more accessible floor plan, lower utility bills, left over income for travel, or sometimes a better location and lifestyle.
You will feel so much lighter and happier with less stuff and have appreciated the things we kept more. You'll love living in a smaller home. It’s more intimate, easy to clean, and feels so homely. It’s well worth it!
Looking for Realtor to make your downsizing smoother, Please feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to help you throughout the entire process!