You're not alone. Many people are opting to live in smaller spaces and bringing fewer things with them when they move.
Whether you're downsizing because your children have left the nest, you want to live closer to loved ones, or your life circumstances have changed, it can be challenging to part with some belongings. But moving into a smaller home doesn't mean giving up everything — it just means prioritizing what matters most to you. Here are five tips to ease the process (and maybe even make your move fun!).
1. Take a Systematic Approach
Let's be honest — unless you're a complete minimalist, you probably have a lot of stuff. Moving is the perfect opportunity to declutter your home and part with anything you no longer use, need, or love.
Taking a systematic approach to decluttering is the best way to accomplish this. Start by going room by room, whichever order makes the most sense to you for your space. In each room, separate your things into three piles:
Items in the "keep" pile should be the essential items you plan to take to your new home. These are the things you regularly use that have sentimental value or are necessary for your everyday life.
The "donate/sell" pile is for items you don't need or want but could be useful to someone else. These could be clothes you no longer wear, books you've read and don't plan on reading again, or furniture that doesn't fit your new space. You can sell them in a yard sale or donate them to charity.
Anything that's broken, damaged beyond repair, or so worn out that it's not worth keeping or selling goes in the "trash" pile.
2. Ask Yourself Why You’re Keeping Each Item
So now you have a plan of attack, but you may be wondering — how do you actually decide which pile your items belong in? This is the hardest step, but there are a few ways to make it easier.
The important thing here is to be ruthless as you sort through your belongings. Listen to your instincts. If your first reaction is to put it in the donate pile, but your mind answers back with, "But wait ...," listen to your gut. It's usually right.
If you're having trouble getting rid of something, ask yourself why you're keeping it:
- Do you love it?
- Do you use it regularly?
- Does it hold sentimental value?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then chances are you can live without it. If it doesn't "spark joy," as Marie Kondo would say, it's time to let go.
Take as much time as you need on this step to feel comfortable with your decisions. Moving is a significant change, and it's okay to take your time adjusting. But at the same time, try not to spend too much time in each room. Overthinking is bound to make you second guess and find a use for that old lawn chair.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Part With Sentimental Items
This is where most people get stuck when downsizing their possessions. Things with sentimental value are difficult to let go of, even if you don't use them daily.
The key here is to be selective. You can't keep everything, so choose the items that mean the most to you and that you'll actually display or use in your new home. If you have trouble deciding, consider taking a picture of the item instead of keeping the physical object. This way, you can keep the memory without cluttering your space.
You might also want to create a memory box filled with sentimental items. This could be a box of old letters, photographs, or other things that hold meaning for you but that you don't necessarily want on display. For larger items, like an antique furniture piece, consider sharing with family members or donating it somewhere you can go see it again in the future.
And don't forget — sometimes the sentimental value is in the act of letting go. Rather than focusing on the physical item itself, try to honor the person who gave it to you and what they meant to you.
4. Be Honest About How Much Space You Really Have
Downsizing can be tricky. Overestimating the size of your new house is very easy, especially if you're moving from a larger home or if you'll have roommates. So before you start packing, it's essential to take inventory of your new space and figure out what will actually fit.
Start by measuring the rooms in your new place and noting doorways, stairwells, and other areas that might make moving certain furniture items difficult. Then, using painter's or masking tape, mark off where each piece of furniture will go. You will get a better sense of how much space you have and what pieces might need to be downsized or left behind.
If you're still unsure what will fit, try using storage bins and boxes to get a sense of the size of your belongings. This is especially helpful for things like clothes, linens, and books. You can then decide what to keep and what to throw away once you have a better idea of the size and quantity of your belongings.
5. Create a System for Organizing Your New Space
In addition to helping you estimate how much space you'll have, a storage system can help you begin organizing. Relocating can be an excellent opportunity to get organized and start fresh, and organizing during your move can make the whole process easier.
After sorting your belongings, organize what's left into categories (e.g., clothes, kitchen items, books). Create a storage system that works for you, whether that means storing everything in boxes or using storage containers and bins.
Depending on the logistics of your move, you may be able to move your items while in their new storage bins and place them right into your home. If not, at least you've already prepared a system and know that the possessions you've kept fit into it.
Downsizing is a good opportunity to multi-purpose your belongings, as well. For example, if you have an extra dresser that won't fit in your bedroom, you can use it as a TV stand in the living room. Or, if you have a bookshelf that's too big for your new place, you can use it in the garage for storing holiday decorations.
The most important thing is to be creative and think outside the box regarding storage. There are a lot of great ideas out there, so don't be afraid to get creative.
Simplicity Is Key When Moving Into a Smaller Home
Moving into a smaller home doesn't have to be a negative experience. With a little planning and preparation, it can be an opportunity to declutter your life and start over without getting rid of the things you cherish.
To make your move even easier, consider getting some moving help. You've worked hard downsizing your things — take a break and get movers to lift heavy furniture! Whether you're thinking of hiring movers to load or just need some unloading help, we've got you covered. Find local movers and check out moving guides to make moving into a smaller home a breeze!