For many of us, there’s an undeniable appeal to the idea of simplifying our lives. But it’s not always easy when that means leaving the place you call home in favour of less square footage.
Whether the kids have moved, you’re separating from your partner, or some other aspect of your life has necessitated the change, downsizing can be stressful. While you’ll probably have more money in the bank when all is said and done, taking this step can mean struggling with logistics—and dealing with the emotions that come with leaving a house full of memories. The good news is, there are things you can do to make the process as painless as possible.
Here are a few tips for downsizing with less stress—and falling in love with your new smaller space.
Large homes have a way of filling up with stuff. From the exercise equipment you never use to the old magazines you’ve held onto a little too long, things pile up quickly when there’s space for them. That’s why it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to declutter.
First up, decide where everything will go once it’s no longer in your life. Should you donate it to charity, give it away to family and friends, or simply toss it out? For most homeowners, the answer will be “all of the above.” Having a system for classifying possessions you don’t need anymore will make the process smoother.
When you’re decluttering, be ruthless. That doesn’t mean parting with things that have true sentimental value—a move you may later regret. What it does mean is saying goodbye to possessions you haven’t used in the last year, and getting rid of duplicate items. Even if you really like both sets of dishes, try to choose just one!
It’s a step many downsizers forget, but taking it as early as possible can save you a lot of grief. I’m talking about breaking out the measuring tape. Before you decide on the furniture and large appliances you’ll be bringing with you, you’ll need to know the dimensions of your space.
Start by making a trip to your new home to measure each room, along with all of the passageways you’ll be using. That means doorframes, hallways, and staircases (for the latter, don’t forget to include the narrowest point, and factor in the rise of each stair). For every piece of furniture you’ll be bringing, note the height, length, width, and depth—and the diagonal.
You’ll probably want to get a sense of your layout before you move in. Using your dimensions, you can sketch it out with graph paper—or try out an app available for this very purpose. Remember that you’ll also need to leave adequate spacing between each piece of furniture.
Plan your storage
While most homes get at least a little bit chaotic over time, making sure everything has a place can set you up for a less-cluttered existence. From closet organizers to mail trays and sorters, buying the right items can actually help you stay on track. You may even want to consider space-saving furniture, like beds with built-in storage.
Word to the wise: if you do make some purchases before you move, make sure you don’t replace past clutter with new stuff. Be strategic about each item, and try to visualize it in your new space before you buy it.
Depending on just how much stuff you’ve accumulated over the years, you may find that you need to rent some storage space in a local facility. There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you can afford the monthly fee. That said, you may want to think long and hard before transferring all of your existing belongings to a second location. Pare them down as much as you can!
While downsizing your home may be a challenge, it can also be an inspiring way to start your next chapter. There’s no denying that our memories—and the belongings associated with them—are worth holding onto. But the physical possessions that we no longer have use for are not.
As you move into your smaller space, remember that what you’re really doing is embracing a new mindset. There’s no need to be weighed down by physical possessions you no longer need. Clutter can cause anxiety, stress, and mental confusion. In contrast, a clean and open living space is like a blank slate. What you write next is entirely up to you.
Thinking of downsizing soon? Want help selling your first home and buying your second? I can help ensure that the process is smooth. Get in touch, and we can set up a time to discuss your needs.