The key to downsizing is to get rid of all of the clutter and excess items so that you can enjoy and use the space you will have in your new home. Many people have furniture, clothing, and gadgets that they just don’t use, that take up space in their home and make it hard to move to a smaller space that better suits their current lifestyle. There are many reasons for downsizing, but often it is done after the kids have grown up and moved out. It’s time to shed the extra stuff, choose a home that fits your needs now, and gives you the freedom to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.
1. Get Rid Of Duplicates, Extras, And Stuff That Isn’t Yours
Look at the items that you have duplicates or multiples of, and get rid of any excess items you don’t actually need. This applies in every room. Do you really need four different sheet sets for your bed, or could you get by just fine with two? Do you need seventeen pairs of jeans, or would you be able to survive with five, or three? If you have multiples of something but really only like one or two - for example, lipsticks, coffee mugs, vases - get rid of the ones you don’t use and keep your favourites.
If you have been storing things that don’t belong to you, give them back! Box up the kids’ art projects and trophies from the last 20 years and give it back to them. Pull out the bins in the attic that you have been holding onto for your parents, and give them back. Once all of this has been picked up, it’s easier for you to see how much space you will need in your new home.
When you are moving to a smaller home, you won’t need as much furniture. If you are going from a three-bedroom home to a two-bedroom, you won’t need the third bed, dresser, or nightstands in your new home. Your living room may be smaller, so you can probably get rid of a couch or chair.
2. Keep, Sell, Donate, Recycle/Trash
One method of downsizing your belongings before a move involves separating things into piles or boxes - Keep, Sell, Donate, Recycle/Trash. Separate your wants from your needs and remember that it’s all just “stuff”.
Take photos of your Sell and Donate items and send the pictures to family and friends, asking if anyone would like the things you are getting rid of. Set a deadline for when these items need to be picked up. Any of your Sell items that aren’t nabbed can be put on sale sites like CraigsList, Kijiji, LetGo, or Facebook Marketplace. Remember to price things for what similar items sell for, not what you paid for it or what you think it should be worth. Anything marked as Trash - trash it.
You could also choose to have a yard sale, and put your Donate items in a box labelled “Free”. Anything leftover after the yard sale could be dropped off at a local charity.
Don’t stick to just the areas of your house that come to mind when you think “clutter”. Go through every room - even your pantry. Get rid of anything that is past the expiry date. Donate anything that you don’t plan to use.
3. Prioritize Location And Layout
Evaluate your new home on its location and layout primarily, rather than how much storage space it has. You can always think of creative storage solutions, but it’s much harder to retrofit a home to have the features you may need as you age. Choose a real estate agent who has experience with clients who have chosen to downsize their home. Think of what city you want to live in, what part of the city, and what style of house.
Look for homes that are close to the amenities you will be using often. Typically, people who are downsizing later in life should look at homes that are single-story, with no steps up or down to main living areas, and a covered entryway with few steps into the house. These criteria are much more important than the amount of space a house has.
Take Advantage Of Creative Storage Solutions
You can put the space you do have in your new home to good use. Make use of the space beneath your bed with under-bed storage or shelves. Install shelving units in your attic or garage to store some of the belongings that escaped your pre-move purge. Rethink how you store items. Rather than having photo albums in a closet or photo frames covering bookshelves and desks, think about creating a gallery wall to display all your favourite photos, or use a digital photo frame to rotate through your best pictures.
4. Keep The Clutter Out And Embrace The Downsizing Mentality
Rather than waiting until a tragic event strikes and forces you to downsize, embrace the downsizing mentality now and be proactive about your move. It will give you the time you need to sort through your belongings and choose a home that will be right for you. Once you’ve sorted through all of your belongings, downsized, and outfitted your new home with smart storage solutions, don’t go out and buy or store more clutter! It is not your job to store things for other people - friends, children, and parents can keep their things in their own homes or rent a storage locker. Instead of spending on material items, spend your time and money on experiences instead. Have you always wanted to travel? Learn a new language? Play an instrument? Take the grandkids out for dinner once a week? Ditch retail therapy and embrace downsizing.
When downsizing, it is best to start the process long before you need to. Give yourself enough time to get rid of any duplicate items that you don’t use, and sort everything else into Keep, Sell, Donate, and Trash piles or boxes. It can be tempting to shop for lots of new items for your new home, but remember how much you got rid of during your decluttering. Do you really need more things? This home is meant to allow you to age comfortably; don’t fill up your cozy space with clutter.