In this article: Written from first hand experience, learn about downsizing your home: best tips and advice to make it a positive experience.
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.
Downsizing Your Home: Best Tips & Advice to Make it a Positive Experience
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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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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:
- How to Pack Your Kitchen without Losing Your Mind
- Packing and Planning Ahead
- 10 Things I Learned on Moving Day
- More Moving Tips
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.
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…
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.