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Downsizing Tips: 10 Steps to Ease the Move to a Smaller Home

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Deciding to leave your home and move to smaller digs such as a 55+ apartment or assisted living community can be an emotional process. But once you make that decision to downsize your home, the rest should be easy, right? Well, yes and no.

The truth is, in the beginning, it’s mostly no. There is an easy part – but that comes later. Sorting through years of accumulated clothes, tools and kitchenware can be physically draining. And then there are the boxes of photos and mementos from your children’s school days. Suddenly, it all becomes real – and overwhelming. How do you decide what to keep and what to toss?

At least you aren’t alone. Consider this: According to the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, Americans don’t use 80 percent of the things they keep. If that isn’t enough to make you let go of a few things, well, nothing will.

Still need a little help? Here are some downsizing tips that might not make your task easy but will surely make it easier.

downsizing tips 1 involve family

1. Don’t Do It Alone

Get the kids involved. After all, half the junk is probably theirs! Ask them over to help you sort. Downsizing is an emotional task anyway, so why not have some fun? Share some memories and laughs. Keep a few things and then let (or make) them take the rest home.

downsizing tips 2 give stuff away

2. Give Stuff Away

Not everything! But things you don’t use that might be meaningful, valuable or useful for someone else. Anything from the lawnmower to your mother’s diamond ring. Why wait when you could see someone using and enjoying it while you’re still here?

downsizing tips 3 one space at a time

3. Tackle One Space at a Time

It’s easy to become distracted when sorting and tossing. However, staying in one room, one area, or even one closet or drawer will help you focus – and give you immense and immediate satisfaction when that task is done.

downsizing tips 4 do it yourself

4. Do (Some of) It Yourself

Yes, we did just tell you not to do this, but there are some things that other people just can’t help you with. We’re talking about the really boring stuff, like the contents of your bathroom cabinets. Tip: Drag it all to the TV room, grab a glass of wine, and watch a favorite show to help the time go faster.

downsizing tips 5 set a timer

5. Set a Timer

Whether it’s real or imaginary, a timer will get you going and give you a time to stop. Then you can choose to continue, take a short break, or quit for the day. Perhaps start with two-hour blocks of time.

downsizing tips 6 three piles

6. Make Three Piles

Toss. Keep. Maybe. But beware if the “maybe” pile starts growing the fastest, as it often does. If that happens, it’s time to go cold turkey and eliminate the maybe pile. Otherwise, you’re just delaying the inevitable.

downsizing tips 7 how often use this

7. Ask Yourself: How Often Do I Use This?

No, how often do you really use something? And once a year doesn’t count unless it’s a family heirloom or part of a holiday tradition. Think about what items you would actually pay to replace if they were lost or destroyed.

downsizing tips 8 disperse and dispose

8. Disperse and Dispose

Once you’ve sorted through your treasures and weeded out the trash, you can toss, gift, donate, or sell the rest. There’s a lot of satisfaction in donating. And you may be surprised at the money you can make selling your castoffs at a garage sale, consignment shop, or on eBay.

downsizing tips 9 packing party

9. Throw a Packing Party

Once it’s all sorted, it’s time to take your friends up on their offers to help. Gather boxes (or ask friends to bring some) and have a packing party. Be sure to label the top of the boxes clearly so movers know where to put them in your new place.

downsizing tips 10 settle in

10. Enjoy Your New Home!

Now you’ve reached the easy part. Downsizing is a chore, but the hard work is done. You have way fewer items and boxes to deal with now. That leaves less to move, less time and money to spend, and fewer things to unpack.

Relax and take pride in all you’ve accomplished. With a lot less junk to weigh you down, you can settle into your new place, meet your neighbors, and savor your newfound freedom. Now that was easy!

Related: When Is It Time to Downsize Your Home?

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  • Sue Sveum

    About :

    After helping her own parents as they aged, Sue began working with other seniors, and now shares what she learned in her blogs for seniors and their families. She currently writes about seniors and healthcare for several websites but her past includes diverse topics ranging from dogs to weddings to ghosts. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and Golden retriever, Wrigley.


    1. Robert Kleiber says:

      How do you like Madison? ……….kind of a loaded question for a positive answer………..

      I have a question about getting senior housing help. If I own a condo and want to rent it out for the income to supplement my social security, can I get housing financial help? I do not have any savings but could use the rental income to supplement my living expenses…………….thanx, Bob

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