Downsizing: What to Consider When Moving to a Smaller Home

by Grace Brooke

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So, whether you’re moving from a spacious, large home to a significantly smaller space or moving in with a significant other, downsizing is a must.  But how do you determine what to keep with minimal stress and maximum efficiency? Downsizing is not as easy as it may seem. It can be overwhelming, cause anxiety and create tension amongst family members. On the flip side, it can also be a cleansing experience and leave you with a sense of relief. It is important to have a game plan and a timeline to tackle this big project. Below are two crucial steps to take when downsizing.

Take Inventory:  Look around your home and the things you have in it. Create a list or take photos of your belongings then ask yourself, “What could I live without? What can I replace?  And what do I absolutely have to keep?”  You only want to keep the things you love, bring you joy and serve a purpose. It can be that simple. Everything else can be donated, sold or tossed. Taking inventory of your possessions will help you assess the overall big picture of what you have and what your needs are for your new home or space. Take into account the size of your furniture. Will the large sectional and king size chair fit into your new family room? Can the monster size flat screen TV be mounted on the wall? Will these items fit neatly into your new home or will they leave you feeling squeezed into a tiny space?  If your new home is smaller than your current one, these will definitely be items you’ll want to consider replacing.  Look at furniture pieces that provide multiple uses or can be tucked away. For example, a coffee table can serve as extra storage or seating and a bed can be folded up and hidden in a cabinet (Murphy bed). A storage trunk can be used as a mini office. Files and office supplies can be stored inside while a cork board can be attached to the inside lid of the trunk and used to keep important reminders. The trunk can also be used as a coffee table or bench. Armoires can be repurposed to store toys, hold and organize gift wrap, used as a wine bar or simply used as an office.

Letting Go:  When downsizing, you are ultimately going to have to let go of belongings that hold some value and memories for you.  One of the main reasons why it’s so hard to declutter is because we look at an item that we no longer need and we remember how much time, energy or money it took to obtain that item.  Keep in mind, the treasures you decide to hold onto will cost you additional time, energy and money to move. Now that you’ve managed to take stock of your home inventory and sorted the items you wish to purge, how do you figure out how to sell, donate or store these items?  When it comes to selling our possessions, we tend to put a higher value on it than others will. Consider this and do some research on Craigslist and eBay before pricing your items. Larger furniture items and appliances sell well on Craigslist and at garage sales. If the furniture is antique and of high quality, take it to a local consignment shop. You will earn 50-60% of the sale if the furniture piece sells within the 45-60 day time frame. Smaller items such as electronics, books, video games, computer equipment, toys, clothing and art have success on eBay, Craigslist and at garage sales. Depending on the time and effort you want to invest in this project and the value of the belongings, often times it makes more sense to donate the items and receive a tax credit. Another option is to hold an estate sale if you are leaving a majority of your treasures behind. You can hire a professional team to come in, prices everything and organize the event. The commission is usually 50%.

What do you do with the old refrigerator that no longer works? You can try adding it to the “free” section on Craigslist to see if you get any takers or transport it to the recycling center at your local dump. What about the sofa that is covered in stains and has lost its stuffing? These items can be places in the “free” section on Craigslist, taken to the dump or Salvation Army can pick them up.

Give yourself plenty of time to tackle this project and create a plan. Enlist the help of friends and family. Living a life with less stuff to care for and manage will create more time in your life and provide an overall lighter feeling for you and your family.

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