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The 10 Best Downsizing Tips When Moving to a Smaller Home

Senior couple moving their belongings from a big family house into a smaller home, EPS 8 vector illustration

Are you selling a bigger home and buying something smaller? Moving is an overwhelming process, but worrying that you may not have enough space in your new home can make your move even more stressful.

If you aren’t sure how to downsize, we’ve put together a helpful guide to decluttering and organizing before you move to a smaller home.

The 10 Best Downsizing Tips When Moving to a Smaller Home

Even if you haven’t found your new home, you can start sorting and packing to prepare for your move. Starting the downsizing process as soon as possible will help reduce pressure and frustration and give you plenty of time to sort through your belongings.

Whether you are moving to a smaller home or simply want to declutter your current home, here are our favorite downsizing tips.

1. Consider Your Goals for Your New Home

Before you start downsizing, think about your goals for your new home.

Are you moving because of family changes, such as retirement, your kids leaving for college, divorce, or moving closer to your grandkids?
Are you looking to downsize to save money?

Do you want to spend less time maintaining a home and more time enjoying your hobbies?

Determining your goals can help you get organized for your new space. For instance, if your goal is less cleaning and maintenance, prioritize getting rid of trinkets and collectibles that need to be dusted often.

If you are moving closer to grandkids, opt for durable, minimalistic decor that makes it easier for everyone to sit back and spend quality time together rather than worrying about things getting broken or knocked over.


2. Take Before Photos

Before photos are a great tool for monitoring your downsizing progress. At the start of your decluttering, take a photo of each room and see what your eyes gravitate to. Usually, you’ll notice important things first that you’ll want to bring with you to your new home.

Later, photos can be an excellent way to measure your progress and remind yourself of how much you have accomplished.

3. Get Rid of Excess Paperwork

Getting rid of unnecessary paperwork is often the least emotional part of the process and can be the easiest way to get started. Sorting through paperwork and decluttering your filing cabinet can give you the momentum you need to continue downsizing.

When getting rid of paper clutter, be sure to shred any paperwork that has identifying information.

Although there are exceptions, here are some general rules on how to get rid of paper clutter. Consider getting rid of:

***Remember to keep social security cards, birth certificates, adoption papers, death certificates, records of paid mortgages, diplomas, titles, deeds, contracts, estate records, legal documents, power of attorney documents, wills, and marriage licenses forever. Keep these items in a secure, waterproof/fireproof safe or a safety deposit box at your bank.

4. Start Small

Are you feeling especially overwhelmed by the downsizing process? Skip sorting through an entire room and pick a single drawer to go through first.

You can also set a timer for 10 minutes and find a few items to donate during that time. When the timer is up, take a break. Go through things bit by bit to tackle the challenge of downsizing in small chunks

Focus on getting rid of duplicates, items you have never used, decor you no longer like, or items you are not excited to bring to your new home.

Parting with personal possessions can be an extremely emotional process. Once you get rid of paper clutter, start with a small, neutral space like a laundry room or bathroom.


5. Out With the Old and in With the New

Once you have decluttered paperwork and organized a small room or a drawer, you can continue your downsizing process by getting rid of broken or damaged items. If you have worn-out towels, chipped mugs, puzzles with missing pieces, or chipped vases — get rid of them.

Many people have ‘good’ items that they are always saving for a special occasion because they are too scared to break them. Don’t wait — get rid of damaged items and start enjoying that fine dishware, fancy vase, or new towels now rather than later.

6. Buy One, Let One

The last thing you want to do when you are trying to downsize is amass new things. But sometimes it is necessary to purchase something new even when you are in the middle of decluttering.

Stop acquiring new things by following the “buy one, let one” rule. Any time you buy something new or get a gift, find an item in your house to get rid of.

7. Pick Favorites

Do you have large collections of knickknacks, souvenirs, shot glasses, magnets, or other keepsakes? Pick four or five of your favorites and consider finding a new home for the rest.

You’ll end up with far less clutter while still maintaining the sentimental value of your collection. You may also want to keep your favorite pieces and photograph the rest of the collection.

8. Be Wary of Over-Saving

Many people fall into the trap of over-saving for their children or grandchildren. Be especially careful about saving oversized items such as furniture, a bedroom set, or a dining room set.

If you choose to save oversized pieces, make sure they will go to a loved one within the next few years (this means no saving a dining room table for a 5-year-old’s future house). Also, always double-check that your loved one wants the particular piece you are planning to pass on to them.

9. Find New Homes for Possessions

Usually, getting rid of something is far easier when you know a new owner will value and appreciate it. Find friends or loved ones who would enjoy an item or contact local organizations or charities that would benefit from items you no longer need.

10. Show Yourself Grace and Patience

If you get frustrated, emotional, or just burned out during the downsizing process, take a break. Whether it’s for a few hours or an entire day, take a step back from downsizing and go on a walk with a friend, get out in nature, and give yourself a breather.

Need Help Selling Your Home or Downsizing to a Smaller Home?

If you are looking to sell your current home, downsize, or find a new home that fits your needs, our caring team of Realtors® is here to help with all your Bayfield real estate needs.

We serve Bayfield, Madeline Island, Washburn, Cornucopia, Ashland, Iron River, Port Wing, Herbster, and the surrounding areas. We have a deep understanding of the ins and outs of each community, as well as the local real estate market.   If you have questions about selling your home, buying your dream home, or are curious about our area and what makes it special, please contact us.standing of the ins and outs of each community, as well as the local real estate market.

If you have questions about selling your home, buying your dream home, or are curious about our area and what makes it special, please contact us.


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