Moving is both exciting and excruciatingly stressful. It’s especially excruciating when the dream space you’re moving into happens to be smaller than the one you’re leaving. Packing up what’s taken years to acquire, deep cleaning, and determining what to keep and what to give away can feel like a heavy burden that grows larger by the day. And while downsizing may never become anyone’s favorite pastime, you can make the experience more enjoyable and create a smoother transition by following these helpful tips.
Nothing makes moving harder than procrastinating and rushing. If possible, start going through your belongings long before your move out date—at bare minimum 30 days, preferably 60 to 90. You’ll want to have time to be intentional while going through furniture, storage, clothing, kitchenware...your whole life resides within your home (or your business life if you’re moving offices), so giving yourself as much time as possible is the best way to truly decide what you can part with, can’t live without, and simply don’t have the space to keep.
Prioritize Your Property
At first, it’s likely difficult to downsize—after all, you bought all your possessions for a reason and many items become sentimental over time. However, there are things you are going to need far more than that gigantic clear blow up recliner you’ve kept for nostalgia purposes, and these are the items you need to put first.
Start with multifunctional furniture or houseware items, like a fold out table, trundle bed, fold up table and chair set, bar cart, or sofa bed. With less space, these pieces will prove to be highly valuable, letting you decorate and design your new area without having to cram in everything you want and need. Don’t have two-digit dinner parties often? Keep that pull out table. Don’t have space for a guest bedroom but you’ll need somewhere for guests? Definitely save the sofa bed. Thinking about how you can use pieces for several purposes will be a simple process to streamlining what you take into your new space.
Steer Clear of Storage Units (Or Try Your Best)
It can be easy to tell yourself to rent a storage unit—just for a little while as you figure things out. However, what starts as a few months can quickly spiral into several years. We often keep things we liked at one time with the intention of using them in the future, but unfortunately, this doesn’t happen often, especially when you have to downsize. Instead of leading with the I’ll save it for later mentality, initiate your move with the mentality of I haven’t used this in years, it’s someone else’s turn. You won’t regret letting go of that record player that hasn’t worked in decades or those old magazines you were saving to put on your coffee table.
Beyond being a pain to pay for, storage units only give you even more wiggle room to obtain goods you don’t need. It’s like the “big purse” theory. If you buy a gigantic bag, you will fill it up, even if you don’t need any of the things you carry. It just happens. The same thing tends to happen with storage units. Save yourself money and grief down the road and try to be as practical as possible when you downsize. (Yes, that means that orange striped velvet couch that you were going to reupholster but just haven’t gotten around to it.)
Donate and Sell
If you have pieces of expensive furniture that cannot possibly fit into your new space reasonably, it’s fair you don’t want to lose money. Opt to sell these on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or to friends, family, or neighbors. You may not get exactly what you paid, but it won’t be a total loss. The plus side? You can save your earnings for anything you may discover you need in your new space.
The other, more philanthropic option is of course to donate what you don’t need. There are many agencies that accept donations of anything from clothing, furniture, artwork, kitchen goods—even bathing suits. Here a few to consider:
- Salvation Army
- Dress for Success Worldwide
- Habitat for Humanity
- Vietnam Veterans of America
- Local homeless shelters
- Local schools
- Local family and women’s shelters
This isn’t the most fun step in downsizing, but who said moving was going to be a breeze? Taking inventory of your belongings will give you a clear visual of everything you own and illuminate things you forgot you had. This will allow you to effectively determine which items you need for your new space, those that won’t serve a purpose and can be sold or donated, and those which you may love, but just won’t fit. And, considering 65% of people learn and remember information best when it’s presented in a visual format, creating a written or typed inventory you can see will make it easier to track, retain, and decide what to do with your belongings.
We understand moving can be difficult, especially when you’re looking to declutter and downsize. We’re here if you need support doing the tough stuff like moving, setting up in your new space, or just need an extra hand. With a little assistance, we’ll help get you out of the old and into the new with ease.