Don’t let the thought of downsizing strike terror in your heart. All you need is a smart strategy … and we’ve got it!
Moving house, in general, is notorious for being one of the most stressful and demanding experiences in life. Moving to a smaller home presents an even greater set of challenges.
Not only will you have to adapt to a radical change in your lifestyle, but you will also be forced to part with a number of cherished belongings that won’t fit into your new tighter space. However frustrating and upsetting this idea may be, realize that with fewer possessions to weigh you down, your life can be simpler and more enjoyable than ever before.
So, how do you downsize effectively and handle such an overwhelming transition smoothly and without great emotional turmoil? All you need to do is take the right steps to downsizing your home.
1. Make a complete inventory of your belongings
To efficiently pare down your possessions you need to know exactly what you own. So, walk through your home and document all your belongings.
You can write everything down on paper, if you like the old school method, or you can use a spreadsheet application to create a home inventory list that can be easily edited. Either way, try to be thorough and register all the relevant specifics, such as the current condition of every item you possess, its market value, etc.
Not only will such a detailed inventory sheet help you identify duplicate, outdated or unneeded items, but it can also serve as a packing list when the time comes to prepare your belongings for shipment. Besides, you will be able to use the same inventory information in order to get an accurate estimate of your moving costs.
2. Draw a floor plan of your new home
Planning your interior design in advance will allow you to make the best of the available living space, as well as avoid wasting your time and money on relocating items you won’t be able to use in your new surroundings.
Take precise measurements of the exact dimensions of every room, door and hallway in your new residence and compare the figures to the sizes of your larger household items to find out which of them can fit inside.
Keep in mind that even if you manage to get a bulky piece through the doors or around sharp corners in your new home, you may still end up not being able to find a suitable place for it, especially when it comes to custom-made or oddly shaped furniture pieces, appliances and others.
3. Consider all the relevant circumstances
Even if you like a certain item and have enough space for it in your new home, it may still not be worth moving. There are several crucial factors to take into account when determining the fate of your belongings:
- Climate. You’ll have little use for a snow blower or a fur-lined coat, for example, if you are moving to a Southern state.
- Daily routine. You may not have many — or any — chances to use your barbecue or lawn mower if you are going to live in an apartment building downtown.
- Cost of moving. Quite often, it makes much more financial sense to sell an item of yours and buy something more suited to your new surroundings than to ship the old piece to your home-to-be.
- Value. When it comes to rare antiques, valuable artwork, expensive equipment, precious family heirlooms, high-quality pieces, or any other items you are really attached to, you will most probably prefer not to part with them, however restricted your available living space may be.
- Practicality. If an item is worn-out, outdated or in need of repair, you should consider leaving it behind. The same applies to anything you haven’t used in over a year, don’t like or have duplicates of.
- Context. If you’re discarding everything else a particular item fits in with, it’s a good idea to let it go as well.
Once you have figured out which of your old belongings to take along to your new place (be it for practical, aesthetic or sentimental reasons), you need to find an advantageous way to get rid of the rest.
4. Organize your belongings
Decluttering your home should be your top priority when planning to move to a smaller place. Go through every nook and cranny of your old property, open every drawer and cabinet, look under the beds and inside the closet, and sort out everything you find in these catch-alls for miscellaneous items and categorize them into several piles:
- Keepers. Useful, valuable or coveted items you are taking with you.
- For sale. Unneeded items in good condition you can sell in a yard sale or on sites like eBay or Craigslist to make some extra money.
- Give-away. Unneeded items in good condition you’d like to donate to charity or give away to family or friends.
- Throw-away. Damaged or worn-out items that are unfit to be sold or donated and should be taken to a recycling center or dump.
Make sure you address each pile in a timely and efficient manner. Organize the items from the first group in a meaningful way and pack them carefully to ensure their safety during shipment. Don’t forget to label the boxes properly, so you can easily unpack and find whatever you need when you arrive in your new home.
Keep the items you’re selling, donating or giving away in a separate room or area of the house, so they don’t get in your way and you don’t think about them. Get rid of them as soon as possible, as it’s very easy to change your mind and start pulling some pieces out of the pile, compromising your downsizing efforts.
5. Start early and stay resolute
Keep in mind that waiting until the last minute to downsize your home is very likely to result in severe mistakes: you may discard something you actually need; you may not be able to sell your used items if you are pressed for time; or you may get overwhelmed and just toss everything into the moving boxes without sorting it.
Start paring down your possessions as soon as you decide to move to a smaller home, and don’t reconsider the fate of an item you have already agreed to let go of. Downsizing your life will only make it easier.