7 Ways to Make Downsizing Easier

Follow these 7 tips when downsizing before your move.

Moving into a new home, especially downsizing or transitioning to senior living communities, can stir up a lot of emotions. For many people, the biggest fear isn’t moving on to something new, it’s letting go of a place and things that have represented so much to them. And yet downsizing is an important step when moving into a smaller space and needs to be done before the movers arrive!

You may fear that downsizing will be one of the greatest challenges of your move, and yet there is a possibility for it to be easy and even meaningful. Grab a few loved ones, pull out a bottle of wine or a cozy warm beverage, and follow these 7 tips for making this part of the moving process seamless and enjoyable.

1) Plan Ahead

Starting early can get you going on the right foot. Empty the junk drawer. Get rid of expired pill bottles. Search your home for any items you have duplicates of and throw away or donate the extras. Don’t make hard decisions at this phase, simply start some good momentum and see visible success.

2) Get the details

Your downsizing job will be much easier if you have the information you need about your new home. Obtain a scale drawing of the new space to get a realistic view of what will fit. Maybe even draw in where your things will go so you can really picture your new space. Find out what your new home already provides for you so you can skip packing things you won’t need.

3) Four Pile Method

Have one pile for things you are keeping, one for things you are selling or donating, one for things that are going to relatives, and an undecided box. Splitting things into manageable groups starts to make the process seem easier. Try putting your undecided box at the back of a closet somewhere for a while and see how you do without these items. This exercise may help you picture how important a role these items really play in your life and make it easier to decide to part with them.

4) Call your relatives

See if any of your relatives would like to hold on to some family heirlooms. If you have limited closet space, perhaps a relative with a larger home can store out-of-season clothing for you to swap out when you need it. And be sure to make your grown children come pick up things you’ve been storing for them all these years!

5) Sort the papers

When going through your important paperwork, set aside things you know that you need. If you aren’t sure, ask a tax consultant or lawyer what you will actually need. Make sure you keep these items safe and let your family know where they are. Save yourself space and shred the rest.

6) Pace yourself

If you start early, there is no reason to rush. Work incrementally. Use these sorting sessions as an opportunity to share your memories with loved ones. Pour that glass of wine or cup of tea and really enjoy your things and your memories as you sort through the precious experiences you have collected.

7) Create an archive

Ultimately, there are likely to be things that mean a lot to you that can’t find a new home and won’t fit in yours. Try taking photographs of these items and creating a digital archive of them. It’s hard to let these things go, but remember, the memory is not held in the object. A picture can trigger a memory just as well as an object can because the memory lives in you.

*Bonus tip

If you are really having a hard time with downsizing after trying these steps, you may find that you are in need of a mindset shift. A book like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up may be just the ticket. Once you’ve sorted and downsized your things, it will feel like a breath of fresh air. It really can be liberating to free yourself from extra things, and you will have had the chance to go through a lifetime’s worth of memories in the process.