Downsizing. It’s not only practical for families in certain phases of life, it’s also trendy. Television shows spotlight families shrinking their square footage by thousands, and most Americans watch in awe. Others take mental notes, knowing they’ll one day be making the same life transition.
Downsizing isn’t for everyone, but if it’s the next chapter in your story, it’s never too early to start the process. Here are some simple tips to help you during this big life transition.
1. Don’t wait: Waiting until you have a contract on your family home might be too late. If you’re on a time crunch and dealing with the home-selling process, you might feel too stressed and emotional to make thoughtful decisions about what has to stay and what has to go. Start the process in advance of listing your home.
2. Evaluate every space – leave no room untouched: Don’t try to do it all at once. Experts suggest starting with larger, less-important rooms of the house. Storage areas, like the basement, attic or garage, usually have lots of things to purge and doing that first could provide momentum as you move into the more lived-in areas of your home, where decisions are more difficult.
3. Ask critical and hard questions: What do I need and use regularly? When was the last time I used it? What purpose does it serve? What shape is it in? Knowing your non-negotiables and what you can’t live without will help you whittle down your things to the important pieces you’ll want to take with you. Be sure to avoid duplications, and consider the cost of moving something against the cost of replacing it.
4. Try not to throw anything away: After making the hard decisions about what stays and what goes, know you have options for getting rid of what goes. Selling items helps make letting go of them a little easier because it puts extra cash in your hand. Sites or apps like Craigslist and OfferUp can help make selling your items simple. If the time of year is right, you could have a garage sale. And what you can’t sell can be donated to local charities like Goodwill.
5. Know your storage options: If you’ve started the process early and don’t know what your new space will be like, you might need to get creative with storage options. Wall-mounted or enclosed shelving, decorative and under-bed boxes, and coffee tables or ottomans that open up to storage inside are all great ways to organize and store your things.
6. Solicit help: Involving your family in the downsizing process is important. You wouldn’t want to hold onto something for one of your children, only to learn it had no sentimental value to him or her, or discard something of significance. If your family can’t help, ask an objective third party for input, or consult a professional.
7. Halt purchasing until you’re settled in your new place: Resist the urge to purchase anything new until you make your move. This might seem obvious for large items like furniture, but it applies to almost everything. The more you have, the more you need to sort through and eventually move.
8. Cut yourself some slack: Be kind to yourself. Downsizing is a big life change. If you love something, keep it!