When you have finally made the decision to downsize your home, it may be daunting to face the prospect of preparing for the move. Some couples have accumulated possessions over many years and they do not know where to begin. It is often difficult to part with items, even though they may no longer serve any useful purpose.
Psychologically, this process can be tough. It is hard to leave the home which holds so many memories and in which your children grew up. Some people are so attached to their homes for sentimental reasons that they simply refuse to move. This can put a great deal of stress on their children later on when their parents are becoming frail. People who proactively make the decision to downsize, often wonder why they waited so long. There are many advantages to be experienced when living in a smaller home.
It does require a shift in attitude and that is why I think it is so important to have the right mindset when contemplating such a move.
Keep your purpose clearly in mind
The sacrifice you make in terms of space means less money spent on heating, cooling and cleaning. Living in a smaller home means less responsibilities and more time for social interaction, traveling and other life enhancing activities. If you can keep your reasons for moving at the forefront of your mind, this can help a great deal in the unsettled time prior to the move. Remind yourself constantly about why you are doing this – perhaps one of your reasons is so that your children do not have to do this for you one day. Maybe you just want your life to be simpler. You may want to have a place that makes it easier to just lock up and go away for a weekend.
Obtain a floor plan for your new home
If you have a floor plan of your new home, you can measure furniture to see if it fits. Today it is possible to use online programs like arrange a room. This helps you to decide what furniture you want to keep and what must be given away, donated or sold.
Create a schedule
Calculate how much time you have left before the move. Decide what you need to tackle in each month of the time you have available, allocating specific tasks to be done each week. It will help to keep your schedule, quotes, lists etc. in one moving binder. You will need to change your address, notify other important parties and accomplish various other administrative tasks. Keep track of what you have done and still have to do by including all correspondence in the binder.
Boxes – several sizes
Sharpies ( White labels with handwritten sharpie descriptions are easier to see than black marker on brown boxes)
Quotes from removal companies
It’s a good idea to get a couple of quotes well in advance of the move. Make sure you choose a reputable company if you want your goods to arrive in one piece at the right time. Once you have decided on a particular company, get written confirmation. We once went for the cheapest quote when moving a long distance. As well as arriving a week late, my precious table arrived minus a leg and my fridge did not arrive at all. We learned an important lesson – it is often counterproductive to go for the cheapest quote.
A good place to start may be with the organization of documents. It is important to keep all your documents such as leases, certificates, wills insurance etc. together. This is a good opportunity to sort through them and organize them efficiently.
Use a shredder
Perhaps this is not necessary for some but I have accumulated piles of paper because my ex-husband and I used to run our own business. I am finding a shredder incredibly useful in my attempt to create some order – just shred all that unnecessary paper and you can dispose of it more easily. My shredder can even cut up old credit cards.
One closet at a time
Take one closet, cabinet or unit at a time. Empty it out completely, so that you can evaluate all the items properly.
Look at items objectively
Ask yourself some questions to help you sift, sort and evaluate:
Have I used this item in the past six months?
Why did I keep this item? Does it have sentimental value?
Would I pay to store this item?
Is this item necessary to me right now in my life?
If you find this difficult, get a family member or friend who will view items more objectively to help you.
A four box strategy
As you evaluate your items, immediately put them into one of four boxes. One is for storage, another for throwing away, a third for giving away to friends or charities and a final one for selling.
A white sticker with a sharpie description is easy to see. Some people prefer to label boxes with colored stickers, according to rooms. Others prefer to use categories when packing boxes – sewing materials, books, photographs, electronics etc. The method used is immaterial – just make sure that you know exactly what is stored in every box without having to open it and scratch inside.
Pack seasonal and infrequently used items
It makes sense to start packing items that are used infrequently and those only used in a particular season. Pack all the winter clothing if it is summer. Pack decorations used for special holidays.
Find new homes
The first action to take is to get rid of items. Secondly, boxes of items to be stored can be stacked out of the way until the date of the move. Keeping them underfoot will add to the confusion. Give away items of sentimental value to close friends or family if they can no longer be accommodated. This is a good compromise as at least they don’t go to strangers. Items to be sold can be put on Craigslist, eBay or similar websites. You can even have your own garage sale for some extra cash. If you are still storing many of your children’s possessions, they need to come and collect them if they have their own homes. Otherwise, go through the items with them to find out what they want done with them.
In order to be realistic when deciding what to keep, it helps to compare the storage you will have in your new home with what you have now. For example, if you currently have 30 kitchen cupboards and your new home only has 15, you will have to reduce your kitchen equipment by half.
Utilize storage tricks
Remember that if your new home has less storage, there are ways to creatively add to storage capacity. Many solutions are available to help smaller home owners, particularly when it comes to bathroom and kitchen storage.
Don’t be frustrated with small
Think of creative ways to make the most of small areas. Proper organization can make a huge difference between making a home look cozy rather than cluttered. One trick is to use a fairly large sofa in the living room. Instead of making the room look smaller, it actually makes it look bigger. Dual purpose furniture also works very well in a smaller home. An ottoman can be used as a coffee table and for storage or a sofa can convert into a bed.
If there are items you simply cannot see yourself parting with but there is no room for them, put them in storage for a while. This gives you a chance to reevaluate later. Don’t be too ruthless with your prized possessions and then regret it later.
Move large items into rooms first
With your floor plan drawn up already, you know exactly where you furniture is to go. It is easy to direct the removal people as to exactly where to place the large items of furniture.
Organize as you go
Boxes can also be placed immediately in the appropriate rooms. Do not unpack haphazardly but organize as you go. Fully utilize all the closet and cupboard storage solutions available.
Take a deep breath
You have made it! Start enjoying your new lifestyle. Downsizing is difficult but once it has been accomplished, it can offer a whole new lease on life.
Here are some excellent storage solutions that really help to keep a smaller home organized:
Use the space behind the door and under the sink. Remember the space next to and above the toilet.
An ottoman can be used as a coffee table and provide storage. Some sofas work far better than others in a smaller space. Some coffee table offer more storage space than others.
My previous post about useful kitchen gadgets, includes some items that will help in a kitchen with limited space, such as a modern dish drying rack, an over-the-sink strainer and a corner shelf.
If you have any other useful tips that have helped to make downsizing easier, I would love to hear them.