If you are downsizing your current home, there is so much more to consider than you could possibly imagine! Many stages of adult life brings about logical and compelling reasons to downsize. While no downsizing move is ever easy, both physically and emotionally, there are many ways in which you can help the process go as smooth as possible.
Downsizing is when you buy a smaller home than the one that you currently live in. There are many reasons that homeowners choose to downsize. It may just be that you are eager for a change, want to simplify your life, want to move closer to friends or family members, or want to start a new chapter in your life. It could be because of retirement, kids leaving home, a drop in income, divorce, or another reason, it often makes financial sense to find a smaller and more economical place to live.
Start the Process Well in Advance
If you have made the decision that you will be downsizing for your next home move, don’t wait. Start the process as early as possible.
By starting early, you will make the process much more manageable and you will also have more time to sell large, valuable items for a better price, and you’ll be less stressed out.
To begin, grab a notebook or note-taking app, and start taking inventory of ALL of your belongings. As you prepare your inventory, make sure you take lots of pictures too. Not only will these help you remember all the things you have around the house, but the pictures can also be used to preserve memories of precious items you may need to get rid of.
Once you’ve prepared your inventory, highlight those items that your friends and family members have “stored” in your home, as well as large potential heirloom items you planned on passing on to family members.
Contact your friends and family members and ask them to pick up their possessions. If you were planning on passing on large and bulky heirlooms, consider gifting them now – that Grandfather clock you’ve been storing takes up far too much room!
Next, start going through any archived documents and paperwork. Store away important ones such as deeds, wills, power of attorneys, passports, military records, etc. Keep them safely stored away in a safe or secure file cabinet, and let a trusted family member know where they’re located.
Shred and/or burn documents you don’t need, such as old receipts, magazines, bank statements, etc. If you find a document you’re not sure whether you should get rid of, perhaps ask a legal advisor or accountant. To be on the safe side, why not scan and save them to a computer or portable hard drive.
If you have more than one vehicle, consider keeping just one. Besides downsizing to a smaller home, getting rid of a vehicle, or maybe even all of them, could lead to large financial gains. If you factor in depreciation, fuel, insurance, finance costs and other car ownership expenses, it costs around £5120 a year to own an average car in the UK! If you and your spouse are retired, you may be able to get by fine with just one car, and supplementing its usage with public transportation. Depending on where you’re moving to, you may not even really NEED to own a car.
If getting rid of vehicles isn’t an option, consider downgrading to more affordable ones with better fuel efficiency.
Lastly, pay off any debts as quickly as possible to avoid moving into your new home with outstanding monies. Concentrate on debts with the highest interest rates first. For ANY expense you NEED to have in the future, there will be many when it’s time to actually move, live by this old school rule; if you can’t pay for it in full right now, you can’t afford it!
Keep in Mind Where you are Going
Having your new home in the forefront of your mind is extremely important since it will determine how extensively you need to simplify your life.
For example, if your new place has a much smaller garden, there’s no reason to keep lots of gardening tools. If you’re downsizing from a 3-bedroom home to a 2-bedroom one, there’s no need to keep more than 4 or 5 sets of sheets and linen.
At the same time, focusing on your new home and thinking about all the new and exciting memories you will create, will be of great psychological help. Moving is always a difficult experience, especially if you lived in your old place for decades, and you have tons of memories tied to the place.
Start with the Simple Stuff
There are certain places in the home that accumulate more clutter than others. Places like the garage, the attic, and, if you have one, the basement.
However, don’t feel like these places need to be the first ones to be decluttered. Not only do these places tend to be very uncomfortable during the summer and winter, but these places tend to accumulate a plethora of items with emotional attachment. From abandoned hobbies to holiday decorations, these places end up holding all the stuff that you just couldn’t bear to throw away in previous decluttering efforts. That’s why you’ve still got them!
Start with areas of the house with little to no emotional attachment, such as the utility room, linen closet, garden or home gym (spare bedroom!). If your treadmill, cross-trainer, or similar exercise equipment has become a glorified clothes horse, you probably won’t use them in your new home. Get rid of them. If you’re planning on staying physically active, join a gym instead or start walking more – another reason to lose the car!
By going through those rooms first, you’ll make immediate progress, and you’ll be more inspired to keep that momentum going.
Scale up your Effort and Be Brave
Now that you’ve gone through the easy stuff, it’s time to tackle the harder stuff. Before you begin, it’s absolutely essential to define the difference between wants and needs. This is really important to get straight in your own mind before you move on.
Needs are things you cannot live without. Things like clothing, medical supplies, work tools, eating utensils, crockery and so on.
Certain items aren’t TECHNICALLY needed but are very precious and irreplaceable. Stuff such as engagement rings, photo albums, deeds, certificates, etc. You cannot afford to throw these out.
Finally, there are other items you should keep because they make life a lot easier and get plenty of use. These could include your toaster, blender, coffee maker, kettle, side tables, etc. If they are still in good shape and fit in your new home, it’s a good idea to keep them.
Anything else that doesn’t fall into these three categories could be considered “luxury” wants.
If you’re helping elderly family members downsize, consider helping them move away earlier than normal so they don’t watch their beloved home being taken apart item by item. It seems that the older we are, the more emotionally attached we get.
While it’s important to know the difference between needs and wants, that doesn’t mean that you should be overly strict about it. You want to simplify, not live like a monk. However, if you want a successful downsizing, you do need to draw a line.
When deciding whether you should keep an item or not, try asking the following questions:
Do I NEED to keep it, or do I just WANT to keep it?
Does it hold sentimental value? Why? Is taking a photograph of it enough to keep its memory?
How often do I use it? Has it been months or even years since I used it last?
Do I actually wear it? Does it even fit?
Do I have any other item that performs the same function, possibly even better?
When answering these questions, be honest with yourself. Make sure you also include your spouse and family members in the decision process.
As you begin to separate items into items to keep and items to get rid of, you may be tempted to keep a “maybe pile”. Don’t give in. More often than not, the maybe pile ends up getting larger than both the “yes” and “no” piles combined, and you actually end up slowing down or even stopping your downsizing efforts.
If you’re really struggling, world famous declutterer, Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising” could really help!
Find a New Home for the Items you’re Not Keeping
Moving is expensive, especially if you hire a professional removal company. The fewer items you take with you, the more affordable your move will be.
Once you know which items you will be getting rid of, you can find a new home for them.
Some ways of doing so include:
Hold a Garage Sale
The old-school garage sale still works. Not only does it help you get rid of clutter and make a bit of cash from your efforts, but it also places the burden of transporting the sold items on the buyer. An alternative is a car boot sale – “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” as they say.
Advertise your garage sale on social media to drum up buyers and, if you wish, use Facebook Marketplace as your online shop to get rid of your stock.
Give Away Items to Friends and Family Members
Make a list of items that you didn’t sell and let your friends and family members know. They may be willing to take some of it off you.
Donate to Charities, Schools or Day Care Centres
If you still have lots of items in great condition that you couldn’t sell and your loved ones had no use for, consider donating them. Check on Google for charities, toy banks, and other places willing to accept them.
Say “Goodbye” to your Home
Take your time saying goodbye. It’s ok to bask in nostalgia or to even shed a tear or two. Take pictures if you must. Even creating a beautiful album of photos of the home throughout the seasons, holidays and special moments captured while you were there will make a great coffee table book for your new home while holding onto the memories of your last one.
It’s extremely important that the entire family supports each other during the downsizing process.
Once it’s time to say goodbye, the goodbye should be final. It’s ok to feel sad, but don’t lose focus on all the exciting things to come in the future. Focus on the fact that it’s a new and exciting beginning, not just the end of an era.
Make the Transition
No matter how smoothly you managed to make the downsizing process, it won’t feel like home right away. Once you get to your new place, make sure you unpack those items that make your new home feel more comfortable and more familiar.
At the same time, the move-in day should be a happy event to share with friends and family, even if you’re getting help from professional movers.
Be sure to accept help from any family member or friend willing to help out, even if it’s just bringing food and snacks.
Try to keep the entire occasions happy and optimistic. The adjustment process is, of course, a process. It takes time to adjust, and you can’t just rush it. Keep communication open with friends and family, but don’t overdo it either.
Downsizing is an excellent idea with lots of benefits. But it’s not a process that needs to be rushed. If you take the steps needed to make it as smooth as possible, you help make the process feel less painful. It can be challenging for some who aren’t looking forward to change, or have become accustomed to their home, but there are so many advantages and opportunities. From the chance to save on bills, make household tasks more manageable to the new décor and opportunities of a new area, downsizing can be incredibly exciting. Plus, if you buy a cheaper property than the one you sold, that extra money can go a long way to helping you enjoy life in your new home!