Bigger isn’t always better. According to research by Trulia, more than 60% of Americans living in homes 2,000 square feet or larger report that they’d rather move to a smaller home next time. Downsizing certainly comes with its fair share of challenges, but the payoff can be very rewarding – both literally and figuratively. And there are plenty of reasons to consider a downsize — becoming empty nesters, going through a divorce, or just trying to save money on monthly housing expenses are just a few. And if you’re planning to downsize in the near future, here are 10 things to know that could help make the process as smooth as possible.
1. Set Goals
Before you begin looking at smaller homes, think about wants and needs.
- Is the benefit of the move closer proximity to the places you visit frequently?
- Is your move about bringing your family closer?
- What are some things you can’t or don’t want to sacrifice in a smaller space?
Spend some time setting goals so that your family is on the same page and has clear direction for your impending move.
Before you begin packing, spend some serious time de-cluttering. Go room by room through your entire home and designate clothing, accessories, linens, décor, toys, kitchen gadgets — anything you don’t love or you don’t need — to donate or trash. If you’re downsizing significantly, de-cluttering should leave your current closets, cabinets, and drawers feeling a bit bare.
As part of the de-cluttering process, get rid of anything you have multiples of — especially in the kitchen. No one needs two can-openers, multiple bottle openers, an extra set of glasses, or four cutting boards.
4. Plan Ahead
Once you know where you’re moving, start planning out the space. Map out every room, closet, and cabinet and have a plan for where everything you’re keeping is going to go. Measure your furniture to make sure it will fit in your new space and consider sketching furniture arrangements out for different rooms. All of this advanced planning can save time and hassle on moving day.
5. Sell & Donate
If you have a lot of items to sell, consider having a yard sale or finding neighborhood resale groups on social media. There are lots of websites and apps where you can sell previously owned clothing, accessories, and home furnishings, too. Since there’s a chance some of your current furniture won’t fit in a smaller space, you might decide to put the money you make from selling items toward new, more functional items. Whatever you’re unable to sell can typically be donated.
When determining what furniture is moving with you, keep functionality at the forefront of your thinking. In a small space, multipurpose pieces are your best friend. Is your sofa also a pull-out bed? Great! Does your table have a leaf that you can remove to save space? Perfect! In a small space, the items you use most should be prioritized over items that are purely decorative.
7. Think “One In, One Out”
It may sound harsh, but adopting the mentality that “for every item you bring into your home, something has to go” can help keep your new, smaller home tidy and clutter free. Regardless of the size of your home, only buying things you really love is a good practice for any homeowner.
Your reason for downsizing is no one’s business but your own, but clearly communicating with your extended family and friends will help them respect and understand your new lifestyle — especially around the holidays. If you’re short on space, suggest to family members that they skip the toys for presents and instead gift an experience, like a day pass to the zoo or tickets to a play or movie. If you typically hosted family gatherings in your last home, communicate with extended family so that they understand that plans and traditions might need to shift or evolve.
9. Take Regular Inventory
Especially when you live in a smaller home, it’s important for you to know exactly what you have. You should know how many sets of pajamas your kids have, how many sets of sheets you own, and how many bath towels you have. If you know what you have, you’ll know what you need — and what you don’t actually need when you’re tempted to buy something you like.
10. Keep Gains (Not Losses) In Mind
Anytime a family downsizes, it can be tough on family members to really understand the reason behind any sacrifices that have to be made.
- If you’re moving for financial reasons, remind your family of the extra things they’ll get to do with fewer home-related expenses.
- If you’re moving to be closer to work, remind your family of the extra time you’ll get to spend together thanks to your shorter commute.
- Find special places around your new home, like parks and hiking trails that highlight the exciting and fun aspects of your new neighborhood.