Downsizing can happen at any phase of life and for many reasons. Moving, if it involves a major lifestyle change, can be an especially difficult and emotional process. Whether you’re moving yourself or assisting a family member or friend, there are ways to make the process easier and less stressful.
Define, or Redefine Your Needs
If you’re moving to a smaller home, compromising on space doesn’t need to mean compromising on lifestyle. Think about how you currently use your existing space, what rooms go unused on a daily basis, how much time you spend on upkeep, plus the expense. Then look at how you would ideally like to set up a new space to maximize not only how you would use the space but also how it could be a better fit for your lifestyle.
Must Have, Should Have, Could Have and Won’t Have
Downsizing is a compromise, and while it may feel like there are sacrifices, in the end it will be well worth the effort. Make a list of what must go with you and what won’t fit into your new home. Couples can make separate lists and then collaborate to revise them if needed (this works for the kids too). An easy exercise is to think about leaving everything in your old home behind – then ask yourself what you would absolutely have to replace in order to live comfortably. If there’s a frequently used piece you want to take but it won’t fit in the new space, think about a smaller, more practical replacement that might offer multi-use options.
Use Space More Creatively
Quick tips for making more space with less space:
— Reserve kitchen counter space only for frequently used appliances. Keep other less frequently used items stored in
— Invest in space saving tools (wall mounted magnetic knife rack, drawer/cabinet organizers or roll-out
cabinet shelves so that those items in the back are more easily accessible.
— Look for multi-use furniture – living room ottomans with storage or beds with drawers built-in. Use storage bins
that slide out-of-sight under a bed (great for off season clothing or kid’s toys).
— Is there unused space under a staircase or in the back of a deep closet where custom storage could be created?
Put Less on the Truck
You think you’ve done a good job downsizing and organizing, but inevitably when you arrive at your new home there’s too much “stuff”. (When my husband and I downsized ten years ago we were sure we’d done a good job taking inventory of what we would need and what would fit in our new home. The find-a-space later items that went into the garage storage room are still there!)
Take measurements at your new home to determine which items you’ll move and which need to be sold or donated. Keep in mind that large pieces in a large house are going to look even larger when moved into a smaller space.
Let family and friends know you’re moving. If there are items you no longer need, want or can use, you may discover a friend or relative has always admired a furniture or decor item and would be thrilled to have it in their home.
Books take up a lot of space and are difficult to re-home. Donate them to the local library or schools. (No one wants magazines, not even mint condition issues of National Geographic.)
Schedule a garage sale. Price the items to sell – don’t let your emotional attachment put too high a price on an item because at the end of the day it will still be in your garage.
Sell items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, eBay, etc.
Donate usable items to local charities. Service organizations need kitchen utensils, bedding, furniture, etc. to set up housing for families in transition. Many will pick up large items but need advance notice to schedule trucks.
Once you’ve gotten through the process you may find downsizing is very liberating. There’s a lot of physical and emotional freedom that comes from letting go of old possessions that once were very useful but now are just taking up space. There’s less upkeep in a smaller space as well, so more time to spend with family and friends, exploring your new neighborhood or traveling. It can be a refreshing to maintain your old routines but in a new neighborhood where you can discover new friends, places and opportunities.