How to Downsize Without a lot of Compromise

Most people don’t love moving. It takes a lot of time, boxes, tape, bags, and helping hands. It also requires us to go through all our things… including our junk. We all have that stuff we hang onto. That sweater we haven’t worn in four years because it no longer fits. Our 72 issues of National Geographic magazine. Great Aunt Mary’s pottery collection.

But it’s not just stuff to us, is it? We attach fond memories to our belongings, and we have objects that remind us of an important time in life.

So how do we sort through our stuff and decide what to keep and what to toss, donate or give to family? How do we move from our 2,500-square-foot home to a 1,400-square-foot apartment, condo or retirement home?


Keep a Positive Perspective

Moving isn’t an easy process—especially when you are downsizing. You have mixed emotions: nostalgia about your current home and excitement about your new home. While downsizing or moving, it’s important to remember this is an exciting new chapter in your life!


Plan and Prepare

Set a budget; moving can be expensive. Are you planning to move by yourself or with the help of family and friends? If you’re a DIY person, here are some tips to help self-move. Or, will you be hiring a professional moving service? U-Haul or Two Men and A Truck are two well-known services that provide moving vans and can help you with the heavy lifting.

Know the exact dimensions of your new home. Measure the walls, hallways and cupboards. Then, you can begin planning where furniture will fit where and decide what should be donated or sold. Plan one room at a time, as to not overwhelm yourself. This is a process—take a deep breath, and focus on one item at a time.


Sorting 101

Some call this the “pre-move purge.” Marie Kondo, organization guru, may call this “what brings you joy vs. what doesn’t.” Either way, it means you should set aside time to sort through your belongings: clothes, furniture, home décor, books, etc. But it doesn’t have to be monotonous and painful.

Make a list of what items need to be sorted through. Then, decide what is essential. Some appliances may be necessary, but smaller appliances or other items such as kitchenware, may take up a lot of room and could be purchased once you move into your new home.

As for clothes, furniture, home décor, and other items, set up a system for yourself—keep, donate, toss. Ask yourself:

  • Will it fit in my new home? Is it still in good condition? You may love that big leather sofa now, but in your new home, space is limited, so you may prefer a small piece.
  • Do I use it now? Do I see myself using it in the future? Do I like it? You may have two coffee makers and four copies of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but is that necessary?
  • Have I worn it in the last year? Does it fit? Is it in good condition? This applies specifically to clothing. If you haven’t worn it in the last year, chances are you won’t wear it in the next year. If you have clothing that doesn’t quite fit, toss it. If you are an inspiring minimalist, look in to making a capsule closet.

For special keepsakes:

  • Do you have a lot of photo albums? The new, efficient and safe way of keeping those special pictures is to keep them online—less space and you never have to worry about losing them. You can even buy a digital frame and have a rotating slideshow of your precious pictures all in one place!
  • Could it be passed to a better home? Decide if this item is precious to you or would be enjoyed by a family member. Perhaps you would like to pass on your treasures to your children, grandchildren or friends.


Bringing it All Together

Once you move into your new home, the fun begins! You get to redesign your home. Perhaps that’s new paint and new décor, or mixing up furniture and placing it in a new way.  It also means you will be living near new people and making new friends. Get to know your new neighbors and your new community. Good luck and happy moving!