WHAT IS DOWNSIZING?
“Downsizing” itself can actually refer to two interrelated concepts in the real estate world. Downsizing could refer to the process of moving to a smaller home – literally scaling down the size of the property in which you live. It could also refer to the process of decluttering, cleaning, and getting rid of things you don’t need – often a prerequisite before moving from a large home to a smaller one.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on downsizing in terms of reducing your possessions and changing your lifestyle to fit a smaller space – even if you don’t plan on moving anytime soon.
OUTLINING YOUR GOALS
Before you can start downsizing, you’ll need to outline your goals. What is it, exactly, that you’re trying to accomplish? And what’s the best way to go about it? How is your lifestyle going to change and how quickly does this change need to happen?
Consider these tips:
- Moving. Are you downsizing to move? If so, when do you plan on moving? How much square footage and storage space is your new home going to have? Consider your position carefully and use it as the basis to set your downsizing goals.
- Minimalism. Are you interested in living a minimalistic lifestyle, consuming and living with as little as possible? If so, how much wiggle room do you have for sentimental items or items for entertainment?
- Cleanliness. Is your downsizing motivation partially spurred by a desire for cleanliness? In other words, do you want to live in a tidy, decluttered space? What does that look like and what will it take to get there?
- Raising money. Are you interested in selling your possessions to raise funds, whether that’s a primary or secondary priority? If so, you’ll need to carefully consider how you get rid of your possessions.
TIPS FOR DOWNSIZING
Follow these tips to downsize your home effectively:
- Start the work early. The more time you have to downsize, the better. If you have a large home or a lot of possessions, it’s going to take weeks to properly go through everything. Trying to rush the process is going to necessarily cause you to make mistakes and miss things – and make rushed decisions that you might regret later. On top of that, it’s going to be stressful, and giving yourself more time will help you keep that stress under control.
- Establish a timeline. As early as possible, establish a timeline for your downsizing strategy, working backward from the end goal. For example, if you want to move into a new house by the end of the year, how soon will you need to be packed? How long will it take you to complete each phase of the process?
- Work with one room at a time. There are many viable ways to break this massive project down into multiple sub-tasks, but one of the best is to work with one room of your house at a time. Don’t intimidate yourself by lamenting the sheer size of your home; instead, focus on the living room and clear it out completely, then shift your attention to the dining room, and so on until you’ve covered the whole house.
- Create a system for evaluating items. How do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of? Every person will have different priorities, so consider your goals and intentions carefully. For example, should you get rid of something if you haven’t used it in the past year? The past two years? Or are your decisions more about future utility and value?
- Work big to small. If possible, work from big to small. Start with bigger, more expensive, and difficult to move items and work your way to smaller things. This will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and will help you build strong momentum from the beginning.
- Digitize what you can. Try to downsize by digitizing what you can. Instead of keeping old CDs and DVDs, get the digital versions of these media. Instead of keeping old sentimental items, consider taking photos of them so you can always remember them. There’s a lot that can be digitized in the modern world.
Downsizing is best executed as a gradual process, so try not to manage it under pressure or on major time constraints. Take your time, periodically re-review your priorities and needs, and keep moving forward until you’re ready for the next phase of your life.