How to Downsize Your Home: Best Tips and Advice to Make it a Positive Experience

Our story: Written from first hand experience, learn about how to downsize your home: best tips and advice to make downsizing a positive experience.

Downsizing Your Home : 7 Practical tips and advice for a Positive Experience. As someone who has gone through the exercise of downsizing our house by more than 50%, I give my best tips for the process. #downsizing #smallspaces #movingtips #movinghouse

I’ll be honest. I didn’t choose downsizing. It chose me.

Nearly 3 years ago, we uprooted our life (25 years worth) and eventually ended up in a 1250 square foot townhouse.

Our current home is the extreme opposite of the big farmhouse by the sea that we previously lived in.

Goodbye, ocean view.

Hello, 1250 square foot townhouse.

It was an adjustment. However, we are beyond grateful for our new life and cutie patootie home. (To see a tour of our new smaller home, click here.)

Now that I’ve been there and done that, I wanted to pass on some tips and tricks I learned through the downsizing process.

How to Downsize Your Home: Best Tips & Advice to Make it a Positive Experience

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1. Determine your why (and keep reminding yourself of it!).

Before beginning the process of downsizing, it’s important carefully determine why you want to do so. Some of the reasons people choose to downsize are:

  • Financial ~ A smaller home usually means less stress on the pocketbook.
  • Health/ Maintenance of a Big Home and Yard ~ This may or may not be affected by age. Sometimes the stress & physical requirements of maintaining a large house or property is no longer with health issues.
  • Big empty rooms/ Empty nesters ~I read that many individuals find it lonely and discouraging to live in a big home once all the kids leave the nest. Staring at empty rooms that were once filled with activity becomes depressing to them.

Determining your why and holding on to that will help greatly when days come that feel overwhelming and you are questioning your sanity!

Our “why” was definitely financial, with a little “empty nester” stage thrown in. At the time of our move, our youngest was just finishing High School, so we knew a space for just 2 was in our future.

2. Don’t be steamrolled by the roller coaster of emotions

In many ways, downsizing and moving brings on many of the same emotions as grief. The pendulum may swing between sadness (saying goodbye to the past), overwhelm (dealing with all the details), fear (of letting go of things and what the future holds), and anticipation of the new life ahead.

(As I was putting this post together, I found these previous articles that touched on my own emotional journey of moving: The Basement Blues;  Power Packing and Goodbyes, and The Remembering Stone).

Take comfort in knowing these emotions are normal. Don’t let them fool you into wondering if you’re making the right decision. Carry on and move in confidence ~ keeping your eye on your “why”. (See point number one.)

3. Determine the time frame and logistics of your move. Keep all pertinent details in one folder

This is the stage where you determine when to move out of your old home, where you are moving to, what realtor you’re going to use, and if a moving service will help.  There are so many details in this step! I found it beyond helpful in the crazy process of moving to put all the important documentation, contact information, and dates in one 3 ring binder. We called it our “Moving Bible” and it was so nice to have everything in one handy place to find.

4. Develop a strategy for purging and downsizing belongings

The specifics of a purging strategy will differ between individuals. However, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Start with the largest items/ pieces of furniture first. I used a grid scale map of each room in my new place and mapped out furniture placement to help with furniture decisions. I also physically taped room dimensions of my new (smaller) rooms and placed in furniture to see how it looked/ felt before the move. (Like I did when planning a move here.)
  • Read books like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Make Room For What You Love by Melissa Michaels for practical, actionable tips on the particulars of purging.
  • Consider hiring a downsizing expert if you need objective advice on the particulars. Downsizing services are becoming more common. Some specialize in helping Senior Citizen transition to a retirement home room, and provide practical, thorough aide.

5. Plan moving day carefully ~ and be prepared for many alterations to your great plan!

I enjoy the packing & organization process of moving. Here are a few previous articles on that topic:

6. Give yourself time to adjust and settle in

Our downsizing journey happened quite quickly. We initially rented a lovely home for 6 months while we hunted for a new place to live. Once we chose a new home, we had less than 2 months to downsize our belongings (by over 50%) and move again!

I must say, moving and settling into a house of similar size is much easier than moving into a downsized home. (You can see our lovely “in-between” rental home here.)

Here’s my confession. I didn’t downsize near enough before we made the move to our smaller home. Although we technically could fit everything in, we couldn’t move in it!

Thankfully, one of our sons was away for a few months, so his room and the garage became the “holding rooms”.

Little by little, I was able to better assess our belongings. It became easier and easier to determine what was worth keeping, and what was more of a burden than a blessing.

If a person doesn’t have the physical space to hold items they are questioning whether to keep or not, I suggest the option of renting a storage space. Put the extras that you just can’t let go of in there, and then see if you miss them. If not, you can boldly let them go without regret.

Once you have finished purging and have an appropriate amount of belongings, organize your new small space so it works for you. I challenged myself to get our whole. house. organized one new year. Here are the organizational details of each room in our downsized home.

Additional Tips for the best way to downsize your home

One thing that we realized over time is that our new smaller home required completely different types of furniture than our previous home. So, for a while we made do with what we had, but eventually sold those items. Then, using the money from those sales, we purchased solutions that worked well in our new space.

The best example is this Billy Bookcase Wall system:

The tiny stand we had for our tv looked ridiculous in this space! Plus, we were in desperate need of behind-doors storage. This system was the answer.

Another example was our outdated couch set that just didn’t fit the style of our newer home. (And, let’s face it, it desperately needed to be replaced!) After lots of careful searching, we ended up purchasing a reclining LazBoy couch that fits our space and needs perfectly.

Another thing to note when downsizing is that guest spaces might be limited. Our family and friends know that we don’t have an ideal guest room situation. However, if they don’t mind sleeping in the craft room/office on an air mattress, we’re ready and rarin’ to have them!;) And, there are lovely hotel options just down the road…

Final Thoughts to encourage you as you search for the best way downsize your home

As someone who has gone through the huge adjustment of downsizing drastically, I want to encourage those of you who are in the process or thinking of it. Yes, it was an adjustment. However, we are loving our new downsized life and are beyond grateful for this place that feels more like home every day.

Downsizing to a Smaller Home| Are you considering downsizing to a smaller home? Or perhaps trying to convince your aging parents to do so? Here are some of the best tips and practical advice for the process.#moving #smallspaces #retirement #emptynest

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  1. Thank you for sharing. I was one of the ones that took an interest when you mentioned downsizing in your stories. Decluttering and downsizing/decluttering are not necessarily the same thing. Lots of additional things to consider!

    1. Yes, you’re right. It’s funny, because I started this article out with downsizing and decluttering, but I quickly realized it was 2 different topics!! However, I think decluttering is a beneficial exercise no matter what size of house we have. Moving, though, tends to be very motivational in that department! ha ha!:)

  2. Happy New Year, Rita! Thank you for these tips and yes, I wish we had sold a lot more furniture when we had to sell our house in California 3 1/2 years ago. We sold almost none of it and now we will have to sell on this end once it’s all out of storage. 😉

    Happily pinned a bunch of your photos,
    Barb 🙂

  3. We are mid-stream in our downsize. We sold our big beautiful home in Nov 2021 and put 90% of what we own in storage. We are currently in an AirBnB until May2022.
    We are building a 1252sq ft summer home starting this month. We will live in our motorhome down south 6 months of the year and summers in our new home. It’s an adventure we have planned for 10years.
    I didn’t get rid of a thing. Intentionally.
    Once the house is complete we will slowly move things in. The decisions of what to keep and what to sell will be made during the unpacking process.
    It is a little different than your process, but we’ve always been minimalists so I think (hope) we won’t need to get rid of much. And, we need to have stuff for our motorhome which we just bought.
    The one thing you are very right about is defining the “why”. Once you know “why”, how you get there is up to you. Everyone’s journey may be different.
    I really enjoyed the post.

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