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How To Downsize To Move - 5 Tips

By Edited Sep 6, 2015 5 5

If you would like to move or maybe you are being forced to move (ie: new job) downsizing to move can seem like an overwhelming task.  But if you need to live in a smaller place then it is something you have to tackle now.

My hubby and I recently had to go through this, and although not easy at first it does get easier and you actually begin to feel lighter and free!

If you have just sold your house or given notice to your landlord, then now is the best time to start.  The more time you have the better, otherwise if you feel rushed you will simply pack it all up and take it with you to fester in the basement somewhere or some expensive storage unit.  So why pay to move junk?  Get started now.  You don’t have to do it all in one day, take bite sized pieces and it will be done before you know it.

How to Downsize

I have come up with a checklist that worked well in my situation.  Even with a few tweaks it is a good place to start.

Tip 1 – Source out all the donation places in your area.  Really check them out, because there are some that won’t take furniture but want books and others that will not take books but lots of clothes.  I tried to find a couple of places that I felt would appreciate any donations we had.

It is important to know what these charities or thrift stores will accept, otherwise you will show up with your boxes and bags and they will send you home with the things they don’t want. (Been there!). 

how to downsize to move

Take a mental picture of your home and if you see a lot of furniture being donated then find a charity that will either come and pick it up (many do) or that will take all of your furniture that you take to them.  Make a note of their hours of operation as well.

If you see a lot of books needing homes, then find a charity shop that will take boxes of books.  This was actually one of the most important steps to take.  If you don’t know where it is going then it will just pile up in your house, or you won’t be bothered to downsize at all.  Also don’t forget family and friends, but don’t push your stuff onto them, only if they are interested.

Tip 2 – Start with the furthest rooms, such as the attic, or basement, or spare room that is filling up.  These are the perfect rooms to start with because they most likely contain all the things you are not presently using and it makes it easier to get rid of.  If your basement is full, break the task down.

One way to really deal with the issue, is to hire a couple of strong students, or family members, to take everything out of the basement or garage or whatever room, and put it all outside on a good day.  This way in the light of day you can really look at the item and think whether it is really worth hauling back inside.  This idea worked well.  We had access to a pickup truck, so we had it in the driveway and a few empty boxes ready to go and started loading the boxes with donations then put them into the truck right away.

If you have lots of time, you could consider many of these items for a garage sale and then whatever doesn’t sell does NOT go back in the house but to a donation center or garbage.

What are left are the things you still want to keep.  But look even closer, and try to imagine where they will go in your new place.  If these items were in the basement or garage are you really going to use them again?  

Tip 3 – Call the Family Over for a look.  Let them go shopping in your house and get a date from them when they will come and get it. 

By now you are on a roll.  By breaking these jobs into smaller bites it can make life easier.  You can create a list and what you wish to accomplish each evening or weekend.  It could be as simple as the front hall closet one night, then the bathroom vanity the next night.  But once you have finished the furthest rooms such as the basement, garage and attic you will have an eye for what you truly want to keep.

If you don’t have access to a truck or van, then you can do this in little bites by choosing tubs or boxes that will fit in your car.  So only fill as many boxes that will fit in your car that day and then make a trip.  So, sourcing donation centers first is very important and you want something close by.

How to Downsize

Tip 4 – Consider where you are going to be downsizing to.. Will your present furniture fit? We were moving to a large one bedroom apartment from a three bedroom house.  So, we knew two bedroom sets had to go.  We chose to keep the platform bed that had drawers under that was in our spare room and pared it with the new mattress from our own room.  So, once we had that plan in place we started finding homes for what was left.

If you can get the measurements of the rooms you are moving to, then that would help you decide on the layout.  Measure your present furniture to see what can fit. 

How to Downsize

Call around to family members first especially if any furniture is heirloom or been in the family a long time.  This can cause issues if you find out later that your sister adored that old wall unit that grandma had. 

I managed to find a home for many pieces of furniture this way.  It was hard at first because of the memories, but once I realized they were not going to strangers I felt better.  If no family or friend wants these pieces, then you will not get into trouble as you did ask.  Then find a charity that will come and pick up your furniture.

Tip 5 – Call a Junk Removal Company.  If you have found a home for many pieces of furniture and accessories, but have bigger pieces left that have seen better days or boxes and boxes of junk or broken toys or literally garbage, then you can call a junk removal company.  Yes you will pay them, but you would also have to pay to have them moved to your next place.  So best to get rid of it right now.

How to downsize

In our case, we had been accumulating books for years.  So, hubby and I took the time to go through the books and keep the ones we wanted to keep.  I even had boxes of the books from when the kids were little which I gave to them. 

It may seem like a pain, but my brother who travels very light said to me once “your stuff can own you” and you know what?  He is right.  I look around my town and I see two large storage unit facilities most likely filled with “stuff” that people are paying month after month to store. 

I feel much better for downsizing.  It does tend to become an anchor and what I have left are the things I truly wanted.  So get started now before it goes on the moving truck and feel free of it all and downsize the right way.

How to Downsize
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Comments

Dec 3, 2014 8:03am
mommymommymommy
This is great advice! I have been purging our home as time permits, but will be here for many more years. I do feel lighter when I get rid of bags and bags of stuff! You can keep the love but you do not have to keep the stuff.
Dec 6, 2014 5:54am
Sookie
I did feel better for getting rid of stuff. It is amazing how much you accumulate over the years with kids! I love your last line. "You can keep the love but you do not have to keep the stuff" This is so true.
Jan 20, 2015 1:42am
LeighGoessl
Wonderful tips for a move! I haven't done one in a while, but in hindsight wished I took a similar route as you outline.
I agree it does feel better to get rid of stuff, even if not moving. We did our basement last week and it can actually be used for useful storage now that the junk is gone.
Jan 25, 2015 9:40pm
SilverandGold
Cleaning out ahead of time is such a great idea. I agree your stuff can own you if you have way too much. It really is better to go through things gradually instead of needing to clean out everything in a big hurry. I've got to get busy paring down again.

A good thing to remember is that if you don't really need something, don't buy it, especially impulse purchases.
Jul 31, 2015 4:04pm
Courtney58
I went through this recently myself. Instead of paying for junk removal, I found Craigslist to be wonderful. There are many people on there looking to take away your junk for free.
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