Downsizing your home can be a daunting task, especially if you’re working under a deadline or if you have to drastically reduce your possessions. Whether you’re transitioning to a smaller home or apartment, moving in with family, or even getting ready to move abroad, downsizing is a process that most people have to go through at some point in their lives. If you need to downsize, here are five essential downsizing tips to get you started.
1. Make a plan.
Don’t let the sight of your cluttered rooms and overflowing closets overwhelm you. You can succeed at downsizing if you organize your thoughts and make a plan. Start by going through your home one room at a time and evaluating your belongings. Your first priority is to decide whether to keep, sell, donate or throw away your items. It’s a good idea to start with larger items since these will create more space when you get rid of them. Make a quick pass through each room to get the process started. Also write down to-do items and shopping needs as you go. You might find you need to buy cleaning and packing supplies, or you might discover boxes in your attic that you’ve been storing for a friend or relative. Staying organized and keeping a to-do list will save your sanity while you downsize.
2. Do you love it? Do you need it? Can you live without it?
These three questions will help you decide whether to keep or get rid of your things. If you love something for sentimental reasons, keep it but try to limit the quantity. If you brought back coffee mugs, t-shirts, and artwork from your trip to Paris, pick one item that means the most to you and let the others go. If you need an item on a regular basis, keep it. But if you only need something once in a blue moon, like a set of crutches or an air mattress, consider getting rid of it. And if you don’t love it or need it, the final question of whether or not you can live without it may be your deciding factor.
3. Sell, donate or gift your items.
Once you’re ready to get rid of some items, you can use websites like craigslist, NextDoor and eBay or even local consignment stores to sell your things and make some extra cash. Just make sure you have enough time and patience to deal with contacting any buyers and arranging deliveries or pickups. NextDoor and FreeCycle are both great sites for giving away free items quickly. And charitable organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and your neighborhood non-profits will not only accept your donations but may come to your house to pick them up. Finally, consider re-gifting any special items to family members and friends who will appreciate them – and who have the space to keep them.
4. Organize your space.
As you’re downsizing, take the opportunity to organize your remaining items using storage bins, file folders, or other containers. Hanging shoe racks can help get all your shoes off the floor, while under-bed storage containers can save your off-season clothing for later. Organizing your things will immediately create more space, and will also help you predict how much room you’ll need for these same items in your new home.
5. Consider using a storage unit.
If you reach the end of your downsizing and find that you still have too much stuff, consider renting a storage unit. This can be an option when you have items that you can’t possibly get rid of, but that you also can’t keep. This can be a great solution for older family members who are downsizing because it removes a lot of the stress and apprehension that comes with downsizing a lifetime of cherished family possessions. Different storage facilities have different amenities such as climate control, air conditioning, interior access, elevators and security gates. If you shop around, you can usually find a facility that has everything you need and that may be offering special pricing for new customers.
Sometimes a spacious home design or a home improvement project is all you need to make room for your belongings. But other times, downsizing may be an unpleasant necessity. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about these and other great downsizing tips.