The Bekins Blog
How to Maintain Your Quality of Living After Downsizing
The home ownership rate in the United States has declined for years to its current rate of 65%. This drop is due in part to changes in the perceptions and realities of property rental. In the last 20 years, renting has become more attractive and more practical than owning a home for many people. Are you one of them?
Whether you plan to move into a smaller home or an apartment for a fresh start, because of a career change or to save money, downsizing requires some hard decisions. A downsize means getting rid of some of your possessions or swapping them out for smaller models. Change brings opportunity, and downsizing during life changes doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your quality of living. We’ll help you transition to your new, but smaller, life gracefully without sacrificing anything in the process.
Decluttering Tips: Begin Early
You may need a lot of time to cut down on clutter, so start as soon as possible – even if it’s just a few things per day. Making tough choices under stress is never healthy and the more you can accomplish before the crunch, the happier your process will be. So, give yourself enough time to decide which possessions you want to keep as well as say goodbye to the things you decide not to take with you.
As soon as you secure your new living space, take measurements of each room and closet to establish how much space you’ll have. Make preliminary plans for what you intend to move and what you intend to leave behind. Your measurements will help you visualize what will fit in your new home.
Start room by room or closet by closet and form your “keep” and “discard” piles. By having a designated staging area, you can revisit your downsizing tasks regularly vs starting new each time. You’ll thank yourself for starting early and keeping at it little by little.
Hire a Moving Company Now
Getting an early start also means making all the necessary arrangements sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, movers are in high demand these days. Schedule your mover now so you don’t have to worry later.
Not only will securing a trustworthy moving company bring peace of mind on moving day, but you can use your movers as a downsizing resource. At Bekins, we understand what downsizing means. We know your life change is important and we want to make the transition go smoothly.
How To Downsize Your Belongings
Once you know the size of the space you’re moving into, take an inventory of your belongings and start to divide and conquer. Consider the following factors:
- Purpose and quantity: How much do you use a given item? If you have several pairs of similar shoes or a range of similar tools, try to reduce the amount down to one or two. If your new location has one bathroom instead of two, will you need two sets of towels?
- Sentiment: Even if an item isn’t inherently useful, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to discard. Keepsakes can be difficult to let go of, no matter their utility. One solution is to start passing heirlooms on to other family members. Preserve your connection to special items by keeping them in your family. Photos and documents can be digitized to save space.
- Size: Your current home’s dimensions are likely significantly larger than those in your new one. Decide which pieces of furniture suit the space and which would look awkward and oversized. Often less is more – a few well placed pieces of furniture can make a small space feel larger and more inviting. Cramming in too much will only make the space feel cramped.
You may find it helpful to make lists of your items as you sort through them. Then, compare the lists. If you have three winter coats or two dog leashes, you might only need one of each.
Make the Hard Decisions And Resist Impulse
Many individuals choose to downsize from a larger home to a smaller one after a major life event, such as a graduation, career change, divorce or retirement. To make it a true fresh start, you’ll need to embrace difficult decisions about your new life.
Those difficult decisions include what you bring into your new home. As you approach your move, resist the temptation to purchase a lot of new items. Hold off until you settle into your new living arrangements. Once you know how your current belongings fit into your space, you can make informed decisions about what to add.
Don’t Downsize on Your Own
You’re not going to know exactly how to downsize your life. If you have a friend in a similar living situation, see if you can visit their home and ask some questions about it. Notice how others use smaller spaces and take notes. Many TV programs like Legacy List specialize in giving downsizers like yourself examples of how to maximize your move.
Reach out to friends and family to help. If you don’t have many helping hands nearby, try a moving company. Hiring someone to pack for you can be a time and life saver! As you pack up and move in, discuss your options with your mover. Consider storing some of your possessions at first and move in with just the essentials. You can bring items out of storage as you need them and decide what you really can’t live without.
What Do I Do With My Stuff When I Downsize?
There are a lot of people who could use many of the items you don’t need anymore. Once you ask family members and friends, consider donating the rest. But what are the best places to donate stuff? You can donate books to schools, churches and other organizations that need them. For clothing you can search “clothes donation box near me,” but many organizations will save you the hassle and pick up if you have a large donation.
Other organizations to consider donating your things to include:
Donating also provides a nice tax write off, which can come in handy when you’re downsizing. Other ways to get rid of items is to post them on local boards like Nextdoor.com or Craigslist.
Start Downsizing Today
Downsizing can be work but it’s also a chance at an easier, less encumbered life. If you go from owning to renting you’ll have less maintenance and less responsibility. It’s easier to come and go on your own schedule and new homes always bring new social opportunities.If you need help getting started on your big transition, reach out to your local Bekins Agent. We’d love to help you make the most of this change without losing any of the quality and comfort you’ve come to depend on.