How to Downsize into a Smaller Home
Downsizing to a smaller-sized home comes with some challenges. What should you do with all that stuff? When downsizing, people are forced to think about which items are essential to them. After all, they can't bring everything.
The key to downsizing is to get organized. Keep reading to learn about six best practices to stick to when downsizing to a smaller-sized home.
Don't Get Weighed Down by Large Items
Moving all of a household's large items into a smaller home isn't usually possible, and some things will have to be let go. Large furniture and heavy safes take up more space in a moving truck and in a storage unit, which will increase the total cost of moving. Additionally, filling a new, smaller home with large furniture could make the space feel restricted and uninviting. When selecting the large items to keep, people should keep the dimensions of their new living spaces in mind and part with any items that would take up too much space in the new home.
Use Piles to Make Decluttering Easy
Decluttering is one of the primary steps to take when looking to downsize possessions before moving to a smaller place. When creating a moving timeline, start the decluttering process 90 days before the move. It's best to start by organizing everything into four piles:
- Keep. Place belongings that are actively used into this pile.
- Discard. This pile is for items that are worn, broken, or no longer usable.
- Donate. Items that are still usable but no longer needed can go to a local charity to redistribute them.
- Maybe. The "maybe" pile is for items that could go either way. Try not to make this pile too large, minimizing it as much as possible. Make a final decision after seeing how large the “keep” pile becomes.
For smaller items, a good general rule of thumb to follow is if a belonging hasn't been used over the past year, it's probably time to let it go. Additionally, consider Marie Kondo's decluttering rules. Ask if it “sparks joy.” If not, time to let it go.
Move Photos & Files to the Cloud
The days of big filing cabinets saving important paperwork are so last century. Instead, modernize any paper items and photographs. To start, the “pile” system (not including "donate") works great here too. Decide which papers and photographs are essential to have as digital copies and discard the rest. Start scanning and converting important documents into digital files. Store them in a secured place, either in the cloud or on a hard drive and remember to make a backup copy for extra peace of mind.
Redundancy is always a good practice when digitizing important papers. Throw away any papers not needed that don't have any personally identifiable information (PII), and remember to shred any paperwork with PII.
Avoid Renting a Storage Unit
Storage units are good in a pinch, but they can also enable homeowners to hold on to unwanted items for too long. It's also costly to store possessions that will probably never enter the new house. Try to avoid putting possessions in storage by keeping the "maybe" pile as small as possible. It's best to make a firm decision and stick to it.
Utilize Vertical Storage
One of the best ways to maximize organization in a smaller home is to store items vertically. For instance, an ottoman offers hidden storage, and a wall unit allows vertical wall space instead of taking up valuable floor space. Increasing intuitive storage options will keep a smaller space feeling open and welcoming.
One Item In – One Item Out
Once everything has been sorted and given a designated spot, to keep possession from overflowing again and cluttering up the new place, set a firm rule and stick to it. For every item brought in, one item has to go. Belongings tend to grow exponentially if not careful, becoming overwhelming when living in a smaller space.
People move into smaller places for many reasons, but whatever the reason for moving, downsizing helps simplify life. Removing clutter from an old home reduces stress and prepares the home for showings. More importantly, letting clutter go allows people to focus on what's most important in life.
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