How Does One Go About Downsizing?

Updated on January 23, 2019
D.S. asks from Maricopa, AZ
9 answers

I am looking into downsizing to a smaller house. My issue is what do I do with all my stuff?!!
I love my stuff!
No, not really. I'm just comfortable and hate to go to all the trouble of finding a new home for it, for the stuff (furniture, etc.) that I won't need.
My husband has had some health issues and a home without stairs would be a good move. So I have the house up for sale and I'm stressing over what to do with the surplus.

What can I do next?

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Donating is always a quick fix to get rid of stuff fast!!! If it comes down to it, and it's time to move and you haven't got thru everything, you could always rent a storage unit for some extra stuff until you get to it. Just an idea so you don't have to stress so much.

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answers from New York on

We are currently in the process of moving from 1800 sq ft to 900 sq ft. We are lucky that we were able to purchase our new home and we still have our old home - this allows us to move at a bit slower pace than if we bought and sold at the same time. I will say that if I had done it that way, I would have gotten a storage unit near where I was looking to move so I could do the move in stages rather than all at one time. The hard part for us is the new house is 4.5 hrs one way so we can't just bring a load whenever we feel like it. The other issue we faced is that we had a lot of kids in a smaller home so we really were creative with our storage space - we have A LOT of stuff!

Anyways, here is what I am doing:

1. First, I looked at what I was storing for my kids. I called them and they all had to come and get their stuff that I had here. I told them I could hang on to one tote each if they needed me to, other than that, they needed to go through everything and either take, sell or donate their stuff.

2. Second, I looked at items that I was holding to pass down to my kids. I had a few things that I could pass along now and did or am in the process of doing. Why hang on to it until I die?

3. I looked at my furniture needs at the new place vs. what I have in this house. My current dining room set has 3 leaves, seats 10 and has a huge buffet and credenza. No way that is fitting in the new house. Our bed is 10+ years old and we want a king so that is going and we are having a new bed delivered to the new house. We sold all the furniture in the other bedrooms and all my exercise equipment (our new house I've joined a gym - something I didn't have access to here).

4. I also went through all my cupboards and downsized my dishes, pots and pans, etc. I had dishes and settings for 20 people (we have 6 kids). Obviously that is ridiculous for 2 people. I kept settings for 8 and now I am thinking I still may take it down to 4. I also went through all my seasonal stuff and only kept what I really liked/used. Everything else went. I cleaned out my bathroom pantry - getting rid of pretty much everything since we are getting a bed size that is new to us and are getting rid of every other bed in the house. I also purged old medications and other bathroom stuff that just ends up in drawers and cupboards.

I list something to sell on the local sale site here just about every day. If I haven't sold it in 14 days I donate it. The Epilepsy Foundation picks up at my house once a month and I make sure to get one extra bag or more of garbage out the door a week. I have no doubt that we will easily make the transition to 1/2 of our current living space.

Good luck

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answers from Miami on

Added- I wondered why one of the posters banged you for living with your father, so I looked at your profile and your other questions. It appears that you are the “Sandwich Generation “, taking care of your dad, and raising a granddaughter. And a husband with health issues. Bless your heart. No wonder you consider yourself self-taught, if that is what you meant.

I also just realized that you actually have the house up for sale (sorry I missed that in my original answer.) One thing you need to know is that it’s harder to sell a house that is full of stuff, cluttered up. People can’t see the house as their own through the clutter. Unless you are in a tough seller’s market, you will end up not getting a good price for your house.

I would take it off the market while you hit it really hard decluttering, or I would hire help to box all the clutter/extra furniture up and put it into storage until you move into your new place. Then you can take your time.

I hope you can get into a one-story house. I’m sure that it would be safer for both your father and your husband. Good luck!

If you subscribe to Netflix, watch Marie Kand’s “Tidying” series. You can also read her book.

I would start there if I were you.

Aside from that, l would “pretend “ that you are moving and get rid of everything you don’t want and need. Start there. Bathroom and kitchen make for the easiest purging.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

It's hard to know how much storage room you will have until you find your new house.
When we moved to a location 5 hours away we threw away the old couch - it was old and it was time - and bought a new one that fit the new house.

For the most part you downsize one closet or room at a time.
Get rid of anything you haven't touched in a year.
Any clothes/shoes/accessories you will never wear again - get rid of them.
Any kitchen gadgets or small appliances that have sat in cupboards for years - get rid of them.
Any dishes or cutlery you don't use - our mug cupboard seems to get to over flowing fairly quickly - get rid of them.

You can donate to a charity, get a receipt for it, use It's Deductible for value estimation and write it off your taxes.
You can have a yard sale.
You can give things to your kids if they are on their own and have their own place.
Anything broken can just be thrown away.

Any paperwork that's outdated - shred it and get rid of it.
When we cleaned out our filing cabinet I had pay check stubs that were over 20 years old and there's no reason to hang onto that.

You will get overwhelmed if you think about it all at once so break it down into manageable stages and just do one closet at a time.
Pace yourself - one area per weekend or one every few days if you are running out of time.
Soon as you have a donate pile - get it out of the house and donate it right away.
That bit of space that you created will give you immense satisfaction and it gets better every time you do it.
Suddenly cleaning, dusting and organizing is easier.
Moving will be much easier when you've eliminated all the stuff you don't use.

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answers from Atlanta on

so you are living with your father and consider yourself to be a self-taught person?

You need to get rid of your stuff. Sell it. Donate it. Give it to family and friends who might admire it like you do.

Downsizing means learning the difference between need and want.
Do you WANT the stuff? Does it feed you? Does it give you air? Does it provide for you? If not? It's just STUFF, a dust collector.
If you NEED it? You use it daily. You NEED it to survive.

So go from one room to the next. DO ONE ROOM AT A TIME and get boxes ready for garage sale, donate, keep, and give to family.

After you go through each room. Take the boxes to good will immediately. DO allow them to sit so you can go through them again. You've already made the decision DO NOT go back.

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answers from Boston on

A little over a year ago we moved my Mom from a 5 bedroom 3 bath house to a 2 bedroom apartment with no storage. Its not as hard as you think.

I'd start going through room by room and deciding what you love and want to keep forever and what you can get rid of without batting an eye. The things you want to get rid of decide if you want to go through the trouble of selling them or donate to charity. We did both. Most of the furniture went to a christian charity (came to the house and picked everything up). Things were sold on Facebook Marketplace. A lot of things were not in great shape but usable so those were listed in the marketplace for free.

So don't put it off. Start now getting rid of things while your house is for sale. Anything you aren't sure about just keep. You can look at those with fresh eyes down the road. If you have too much stuff for your new house you can always just put things in storage for a couple months and buy some time to figure it out.

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answers from Boston on

Make a list of why you are downsizing to begin with. It's not because you want a simpler, clutter-free life. If it were, you'd be getting rid of more stuff easily.

Do you have a year to do this?

A few years ago, I started that closet-hanger maneuver. On Jan. 1, turn all the hangers backwards in the closet. The first time you wear something, turn the hanger the "right way." After 1 year, you know what you didn't wear.Get rid of it. Do the same thing in your drawers - turn folded items upside down, and only right them when you've worn them and enjoyed them.

Put a sticker (garage sale type - removable) on the bottom of your plates, serving pieces, candlesticks, pots/pans, cutting boards, you name it. If you have multiples (colanders, measuring cups, platters, cheese boards), then use the numbered stickers so that you are forced to use the $1 ones first, the $2 second, etc. Stick to that. When you use them, peel and discard the sticker. After a year, you know what you don't need. If you move and find you desperately need another colander, you can buy one then.

There are organizations desperate to have your things that sit unused. I've been working with resettled Puerto Rico hurricane evacuees, and they've come here with a suitcase or two of clothes and not one single plate or coffee mug or teakettle. They've lost everything, or they've been forced to leave it behind. They've taught me a lot about what's necessary. Meantime, you'll save the cost of moving these things and you can start fresh.

Figure out why you're holding on to certain things. Is it because your mother held things from her mother, and you feel you must honor her by doing the same? Is that important? Do you have family members who would really want some of those things? Or would putting them in an antique shop or a consignment shop lighten your load? My mother-in-law gave us a silver tea service she hadn't used since the 1940s. We held it (unused) while she was alive, and then parted with it in the 1990s. I never missed it.

I have a few things my son and nieces want, and a few things I'll keep forever because I use them, but otherwise, they're just things. They may be things with memories attached, but they are memories.

If you have the time, I'd suggest you take a year to read on the topic, watch relevant TV shows, label things, and make a list of your reasons for moving and what you are hoping to gain in your new place and what you are willing to shed.

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answers from Dallas on

Responding to just the practical part of your question as to what you do with the stuff..there are places that will pick up things from your home. I would go this route. Find the one you want and schedule an appointment for pick up. Usually it's at least a week out, but you can make it further out if necessary. Just clear out a space in the basement or garage and just start bagging and boxing all the things you don't want. Once you get going it will be easier to just purge away. Having a close deadline makes things easier for me because I don't have too much time to put it off. Remember that you can always schedule multiple pick ups. Those places will often take furniture as long as it isn't too out of date and in good shape, plus all the usual household things.

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answers from Washington DC on

there are a ton of books out there addressing this very issue.

the takeaway from all of them is to hold the object (or just stand in front of it if it's furniture) and really think about how it makes you feel. not its history or its value or even its usefulness. does it make your heart lift? or do you have to really work at it to get an emotional reaction about it?

if it makes your heart happy, keep it. anything else, let it go.


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