When you are getting ready to pack away all of those extra rooms and downsize, it can fill you with panic. There are so many things to juggle when selling your current home, deciding what to keep and what not to keep, and figuring out what will fit in your new home. But never fear – if you follow this framework for making the leap into downsizing, you will come out on the other side a happier person.
Don’t wait to downsize
If you have been thinking about downsizing, it’s probably time to do it. There are lots of reasons that people decide to give up their large homes; their kids have moved out, they have paid off their home, they are tired of cleaning so much house, or they don’t want the upkeep of a large outdoor space. If any of these reasons have crossed your mind, don’t hesitate.
Downsizing takes a little preparation and often people wait until there is an illness or a family crisis that forces them into a rushed move. It’s better to move while you are healthy and can take a few months to plan. It’s never ideal to deal with moving and a family crisis simultaneously if you can help it.
Enlist your family and friends to help
If you are an empty nester, chances are you have a house full of items that your kids will be clambering to get their hands on. That is all the more helpful to you when it comes time to make the big purge. But make sure to set a time limit for items to be retrieved. Ideally, you should give yourself six months to get the necessary arrangements taken care of before the big move. Anything that isn’t going to the new place and isn’t collected by family and friends by that date should be sold or donated.
Break your downsizing into stages
Starting with items that you don’t use on a daily basis or rooms that you don’t go into often with help to break up the process. Yard tools, spare bedroom furniture, and formal dining room furniture are a great place to start.
Take a long hard look at your kitchen, bedding, and items that you keep in storage, like holiday decorations. There will inevitably be less closet and cabinet space when you downsize so it’s best to cut back on the items you are storing now. Don’t move anything to your new place, only to realize once you arrive that there isn’t space and you have to throw it out.
Donate and sell anything that you can’t take
There are lots of options for getting rid of unwanted and unneeded items prior to your move. For those that are willing to take the time and effort, you can make some money with apps like Letgo, Decluttr, eBay, Chairish, and Facebook Marketplace. You can sell everything from clothes, books, movies, furniture, electronics, appliances, and more.
If you are more inclined to donate your unwanted items, you can schedule a donation pick up. There are several options that you can use nationwide but just make sure to check the list of items permitted for donation before scheduling your pick up date. Salvation Army Family Stores and Habitat for Humanity both offer flexible options for those wanting to donate to charities in their area.
Measure, measure, measure
Don’t assume that your items will fit in your new place. Layouts and walk ways can completely shift how furniture fits (or doesn’t) in a room. Take accurate measurements of all the pieces you are keeping. A great trick is to measure out scale cut outs of your furniture on butcher paper or on the back of some old wrapping paper. Then you can lay it out in your new space to see how it will fit on the ground before you move it in.
Even if something you planned on keeping does not fit in your new home, it’s not the end of the world. Furniture should fit your space, not the other way around. Unless you have family heirlooms that cannot be replaced, don’t get overly hung up on items you can’t bring with you. Stuff is just stuff. The memories will stay with you from the old place to the new place and you will start making new memories in your new home very soon.