Downsizing – the act of getting rid of things so you can comfortably fit into a smaller space – is a big job. But if you follow these 12 essential tips, you can de-stress the process (and you may even have a little fun or make a little cash). From purging your belongings to finding the right real estate agent, this guide explains it all.
12 Essential Tips for Downsizing Your Home
People are downsizing in record numbers, so if you’re thinking about doing so, you’re not alone. Check out these 12 essential tips for downsizing your home successfully:
- Take lots of photos
- Create an inventory
- Zero in on what makes your home feel like… well, home
- Carefully evaluate the things you want to save
- Give joyfully
- Put the brakes on getting new “stuff”
- Pare down your collections
- Be realistic about what your new home can accommodate
- Label old pictures
- Recycle old paperwork
- Start early
- Be patient with yourself
Here’s a closer look at each.
Tip #1 for Downsizing: Take Lots of Photos
When you’re getting ready to purge your belongings, you’ll most likely think a lot about the memories you’ve made in your home. If you’re like most people, you don’t want to forget what your home was like – how it looked and how you felt when you were in it. Don’t stress too much about it, though: You have a device in your pocket that can capture what your home looks like right this minute! Whip out your phone and start taking pictures. You can even create a video walk-through tour you can reminisce over later.
Tip #2 for Downsizing: Create an Inventory
Making a list is a great way to get organized, and it’s something you can refer back to as you go through your belongings. Not only will an inventory help you keep track of what you have, but it will also make the act of downsizing less stressful. You can even get creative with your inventory by assigning each item a number or letter and then sorting them into categories.
Tip #3 for Downsizing: Zero in on What Makes Your Home Feel Like… Well, Home
Your home is more than just a roof over your head – it’s a reflection of your personality. When you’re downsizing, it’s important to zero in on the things that make your home feel like home. These things might be sentimental, like family photos or heirlooms, or they might be practical, like your favorite chair or the kitchen table where you eat all your meals. Whatever they are, rest assured that you’ll be able to take them with you when you move. You can make space if necessary.
Tip #4 for Downsizing: Carefully Evaluate the Things You Want to Save
When you’re downsizing, you’ll probably find that there are some things you just can’t bear to part with – and that’s okay! Just be sure to carefully evaluate the things you want to save. If an item is truly sentimental, chances are it will hold its value over time. But if it’s not something you’re particularly attached to, you might want to reconsider keeping it.
Tip #5 for Downsizing: Give Joyfully
One of the best things about downsizing is that it gives you a chance to declutter – and what better way to declutter than by giving your unwanted belongings to someone who will love them? If you have items that are still in good condition but that you don’t need or want, consider donating them to a local charity or thrift store. Not only will you declutter your home, but you’ll also feel good knowing that your belongings are going to a good cause.
Tip #6 for Downsizing: Put the Brakes on Getting New “Stuff”
If you’re tempted to bring a new item into your home, ask yourself if you really need it. Chances are good that the answer is no. When you’re downsizing, it’s important to put the brakes on getting new “stuff.” Not only will this help you declutter your home, but it will also save you money in the long run.
Tip #7 for Downsizing: Pare Down Your Collections
Books, DVDs, CDs, beer glasses, and other items that you never use may need to find new homes. Choose your favorites and take them with you; someone else will love the rest.
Tip #8 for Downsizing: Be Realistic About What Your New Home Can Accommodate
When you’re downsizing, it’s important to be realistic about what your new home can accommodate. If you’re moving from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment, you’re going to have to get rid of some of your furniture.
Tip #9 for Downsizing: Label Old Pictures
If you’re like most people, you probably have a lot of old pictures – and if you’re downsizing, you might not have room for all of them. That means passing them on to the people who are in the photos (or their descendants). You can enjoy reminiscing over them while you label them, and the people you give them to will appreciate the work you put into it all. (You can also have old photos digitized if you still want to keep copies for yourself!)
Tip #10 for Downsizing: Recycle Old Paperwork
If you’re like most people, you probably have a lot of old paperwork – and if you’re downsizing, you don’t want to keep what you don’t absolutely need. You can shred it, burn it or recycle it. Just be sure to get rid of it in a way that protects your identity and keeps your home clutter-free.
Tip #11 for Downsizing: Start Early
The sooner you start downsizing, the easier it will be. Giving yourself time to process and thoughtfully choose what makes the grade for your new home will make the process less stressful. And, of course, the sooner you start, the more time you’ll have to get rid of things you don’t need or want.
Tip #12 for Downsizing: Be Patient With Yourself
You didn’t accumulate a whole home full of items overnight, so don’t expect yourself to get rid of everything you don’t need overnight. Take things slow and be thoughtful about the choices you make. If you’re on the fence about a particular item, set it aside and look at it with fresh eyes the next day (or next week).