Tips on Downsizing Your Home Has your home outgrown you?

Are you living in this big house of which you only use a few rooms in a year (e.g. kitchen, living room, main bedroom and en-suite bathroom)?
You more than likely haven’t set foot in any of the other rooms for months!

Would moving to a smaller place be an option?

Based on the latest data, it’s estimated that a person moves about 12 times in their lifetime. As you reach the mature age stage in life (earlier for some than others), you will be looking at downsizing from your current living condition; whether it be caused by financial reasons, the children having moved out of the house, divorce, partner passed away, or just plain practical convenience of having to run a huge house for 1 or 2 people!

Perhaps now would be a good time to think about downsizing!

Where does one even start? There are so many closets and cupboards filled with stuff. Don’t even mention what’s been accumulated over the years/decades in the garage, basement and attic! Which stuff stays, goes, comes with?

This article on downsizing will discuss a number of tips which one needs to consider about downsizing before actually starting with all the moving! Going from a full-blown house with plenty of bedrooms and living areas to a one-or-two bedroom place does need some preparation!

Here are 10 quick tips on downsizing:

Tip 1: Assess your actual needs

Start by walking through your present home and analyzing how each room is currently being used. How long since you have last been there? Would you miss not having that room anymore? What if you could combine a number of the rooms into one new setup?

The kitchen breakfast nook and dining area could become one? Or your current library/home office and guest bedroom could perhaps merge once you’re in your new place?
The best way would be to start assessing what you consider a need and want. You will need to be realistic. If you’re serious about downsizing from this huge house, you will need to get rid of quite a few bits!

Time to optimize!

Tip 2: Go through your home, every cabinet, shelf and closet should be cleared

We tend to hang on to things that are either going to be used or taken care of one day, or things that have served its purpose and are being kept side for that special day in the future when we’ll finally get around to using it again.

Remember how you bought that canoe at 75% discount as you couldn’t let that one just slip past you? That was in the 20th century and you haven’t used it once.

How about your aerodynamic (read: expensive) triathlon bike you raced with for years when you were younger & had plenty of time but haven’t used the bike once in the last 10 years?

How many porcelain dining sets does one actually need? We all have that corner cupboard which stores a handful of them, just in case we ever need it!

Biting the bullet might be your new favorite expression!

Don’t take me wrong: many of these previous items of value (emotional & financial) took a long time to acquire but if you’re taking a good long look at how your life has changed since, perhaps re-prioritizing their place in your current environment might put things in perspective.

Before you start to go through that rigorous and timely exercise (yes, do take it seriously and expect it to take a while if done correctly), be warned that there will be a number of items which you’ll struggle with classifying.

Make the following agreement with yourself: the UN-classified stuff will be put in storage but if they haven’t been used once in the next 12 months, it’ll automatically mean it needs to ‘exit your life’, by either selling it, giving it away or throwing it away.

That’s a very fair agreement, right?

Tip 3: Think carefully about design

Whereas in the bigger house, there was always room to shift furniture sets, paintings and toys around, this smaller setup will need some extra attention how one would like to have things placed.

Keep in mind not to block any windows or passage ways!

Too much stuff in one room will be cramped and likely, untidy. That includes any small gardens, patios or balconies!

Tip 4: Measure your furniture

By now, you will have a good idea of how many rooms and space you have at your new home.

Practically, you will need to measure up each room, so you can take each of your larger furniture items and see where they’d fit. So, when moving day comes, you know exactly where what will go!

Heck, other than just having a better idea of knowing in which room each large piece will go, if you want to take it a step further, there are a number of (free!) floor plan software applications available online for you to properly map everything out and visually see where things will go!

These furniture placement applications weren’t around when you initially moved to your house, but this time around, why not take advantage of this very helpful technology to make your life so much easier?!

If that sounds like too much work, keep in mind that changing to this new lifestyle of living smaller will require some organization on your part to make sure you don’t feel like you’re living in a one-room place cramped with stuff stacked from floor-to-ceiling!

Tip 5: Evaluate what you have

Having gone through all your cupboards, drawers, current storage rooms and measured which furniture will go where in your new place, you ought to be able to evaluate your moving status.

Some of the best advice I can give you is establishing what should come with you or not. Without a doubt I would recommend using some of the best packing tips when moving. This advice will save a lot of time and effort, as well as reducing your stress levels.

Across a number of lists, you now have a clear understanding what to do with each large furniture item (as well as the other items such as smaller appliances, clothing etc):

• Make sure to properly label your cardboard boxes ‘per destination’ as that will become vital information in loading the moving truck, unloading it into the appropriate rooms and to know which boxes will head to the storage facility!

• Don’t worry about trying to fix the items you re-discovered along the way: if you haven’t fixed it by now, it’s safe to say that it’ll probably never will!

• As it turns out, those big plastic garden bags come in quite handy now as they’re easily stack-able and ‘shippable’!

It may seem like a lot of work as you’re packing, but you’ll be very grateful you did and way less stressed on moving day once you see all those boxes/bags come out of the moving van!

Tip 6: Sell your stuff

As mentioned before, (fortunately or unfortunately) some of your larger furniture items will no longer have a future in your new life. Why not sell it and use the proceeds towards buying furniture which will be used in your new home?

Which might be useless or no longer functional for you, might be exactly what someone else is looking for, so why throw it away? Call it a pre-move windfall, if you wish. Let the old house stuff that doesn’t suit you anymore, help you pay for that which will suit you now!

There are so many ways for you to sell your used furniture – let’s list the most evident ones here:

• Right off the bat, a garage sale (a.k.a. yard sale) or series of them as you go filtering through the rooms what’s no longer needed, might be a great option to start off with.

• Next step will be to try your luck online via eBay-type sites and see who might be interested in buying your new unwanted items (it also means opening an account, taking decent pictures, correct descriptions, making appointments with potential buyers, arrange for pickup/delivery, so don’t be discouraged that it’ll take some extra organization, work and time!)

• Assuming not everything gets sold during your big sale endeavors cited above, you can turn to professional services which will buy everything in bulk and pick it up from your home!

Having gone through this exercise might turn out more beneficial than you initially expected. Not only will you getting money out of it, you’re clearing up quite the stuff and are getting organized along the way!

Tip 7: Assess your new storage area

Once you’ve measured up the new space, your furniture sizes and have assessed which items don’t qualify to (1) get on the For Sale list or (2) get an invitation to move to your new home, it’s time to think about your storage area!

Specifically, you will need to research the size of your new storage facility. After all, it’ll likely determine how severe of a space cutting you will need to do at your old house. How much storage space is available at your new house?

Try to err on the side of caution as people tend to overestimate the size of storage available at their new place (most of the time too late)!
How much of your stuff will eventually survive the journey? Using the measurements done earlier (of both the new house and larger items), you ought to have compiled a list of items which will need to head for storage.

Here as well, you ought to have a rule: if you place items in storage and haven’t touched any of it for 2 years, there’s a good chance it will never be used again!

Sounds like a plan?

Why bother letting it take up space in your newly acquired storage facility?

Tip 8: Move large items first

There’s no doubt about it: take your biggest pieces of furniture and move those into your new home first!

Besides having the most energy at the beginning of your moving day to (help) carry the bigger/heavier pieces of your household furniture, those tend to take priority when starting to arrange a room. Where to put the dining room table, queen-sized bed set, antique cupboard etc?

Do not make the mistake of just moving the furniture from the moving van into the rooms and “organizing it later”!

As the larger items are being brought into the new house, use the layout made during planning stage to redirect the correct furniture to the appropriate rooms. No need to shove all the furniture in one space, as well as all the moving boxes, only having to tackle everything the next few days (or “one day”!).

Having distributed the larger pieces into the designated areas from the get-go, unpacking, re-shelving and cleaning up will go that much smoother!

Tip 9: Put away storage items

As all the furniture items and boxes were brought into the new house, those labeled with ‘storage’ have been properly put aside near the entrance, out of the way.

In an ideal world, you’d leave most of those storage boxes on the moving truck and head straight to the storage facilities, but we all know how hectic things on moving day can be! So, practically, we will now have placed all those storage boxes aside at the new house, ready to shipped out as soon as possible.

Tip 10: Organize your space as you unpack

If you have followed some of the above mentioned guidelines, you ought not to have any stress at this point: you have identified its destination in the new house through proper labeling during packing.

Time to maximize your new (smaller) spaces: every new closet and cupboard space will need to be properly optimized as you’re unpacking.
Do yourself a huge favor: try not to fall back into your ‘previous self’ by stacking on new stuff all the time!

How about setting yourself a rule (yet another!): for every incoming new relatively size-able item, you need to move out another one (e.g. sell, get it to storage, give away or throw away).

Quick bonus tip:

Tip 11: Try to minimize storage space

It is very tempting to get a larger storage facility than you actually need.
Don’t forget: the more storage space you have available, the more likely you are going to amass stuff and store it there!

Whereas you’ve done a great job in sorting through all your stuff at your old house before the move to get to a normal level, it’s up to you now to avoid cluttering things again! Try to achieve the opposite: aim to minimize storage space!

Closing thoughts

Let me congratulate you on making the effort in reading the above 10 Quick Tips On Downsizing article! There are so many things that can go wrong on moving day which could easily have been prevented, properly anticipated and prepared!

Let’s hope you will make great memories at your new small place!
Sometimes all is takes is for you to read one single article on downsizing and to realize how relatively painless downsizing can actually be!

I’m not saying it won’t take work to get there, but it’ll be far less stressful!
Welcome to the world of those living small(er)!

If you give the above 10 Quick Tips On Downsizing some thought, I’m sure you’re already half-way through a properly-organized moving experience once the big day arrives!

Other Tips On Downsizing & Related Resources:

Four Approaches for Downsizing via Karen Highland
How to pick a storage unit via Bill Gassett
Tips for Downsizing Your Home via Debbie Drummond

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Xavier De-Buck About the author: The above article “10 Quick Tips On Downsizing” was provided by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Northcliff (Johannesburg – South Africa) real estate agent with Pam Golding Properties. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 15 years combined experience as a real estate agent and real estate investor, if you’re thinking of selling or buying in Northcliff, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.