Before you downsize, there are a few things that you should seriously consider. Downsizing has become more popular than ever recently. It’s no longer just done by parents whose children have grown up and flown the nest, but by families and couples at all stages of life. It can be one of the most rewarding and liberating decisions that you’ll ever make, but you do need to make sure that you’ve thought it all through properly. Here are some of the key things you need to think about before you downsize.
1. You Own a Lot
Before you downsize, have a proper look around your home. You’ll be shocked at how much stuff you own, and how many things you have that you never use. Even people who claim to live really minimalist lives have hundreds of extra pillows, or nine boxes of washing powder. Searching through cupboards, closets and wardrobes will unearth everything that you own, and ensure that there is nothing hiding away. On the plus side, once you’ve sorted through everything, you’ll get a good lesson in not hoarding so much in your smaller place.
2. It’ll Take a Long Time
There is simply no way to downsize quickly. You might start off full of energy and ready to go straight away, but the jobs will pile up and it’ll take time and effort to sort everything out. To keep yourself motivated, try creating a big picture plan that will help you to visualize the end result that you want, and setting a realistic deadline. Use that to make a to-do list with deadlines, and select manageable goals to do each day. Accept that it’ll take a while and be ready to power through it.
3. It’s Mentally Exhausting
It might be your body that is lugging around boxes of belongings or walking around new towns to find out where you’d like to live, but it’s your mind that gets the biggest workout. The most exhausting part of downsizing is making a sentimental break from your belongings and your home, and there is no denying how much of a big deal that is. Be ready for it.
4. It’s Easier when You Get Going
The more you de-clutter, the easier it will get. It might feel like an impossibility now, but you’ll soon ease yourself into it. Start with one cupboard or shelf, and then slowly move your way around. Take a few moments to admire how far you’ve got, too. It’s motivating.
5. You’ll Have to Make Hard Decisions
It’s not always easy deciding what to keep and what to throw away. Sometimes, that choice will even be made for you – that huge antique sofa that came from your parents' house? If it doesn’t fit in the new house, it simply can’t move with you. If you do need to make a decision, ask yourself the last time you looked at or used the item, and whether it represents a key moment in your life. Then consider if a smaller object like a photograph could do that better. Divide everything into things to keep, throw and work out later, and put all the undecided objects in a box. If you don’t use them within a few months, throw away the box without looking in it again.
6. Give Things Away
When a friend decluttered, she decided to make herself feel better about her downsizing by giving away her old things to charity. She collected charity bags, carefully sorted things and made sure they were in good condition, and even worked out which things should go to which charities. Then she spent four months driving around with the huge charity bags in the back of her car, unable to actually give them away. You can do a lot of good by giving things to charity, and you can even get a tax break if you keep the receipt, but make sure that you are fully invested in the decision.
7. Hire Help
Before you downsize, consider whether you can realistically do it on your own. If not, there are companies that can help. From sorting out and decluttering, to packing up and even providing storage, professional help can help in a lot of ways. Even just having an objective person guiding the process can help. It’ll cost between $200 and $400 per hour, on average, but you can usually make a deal.
Of course, before you downsize you should take financial advice, and make sure that you don’t throw away anything that your family members might want. Grandma’s sofa? Yes please. Grandad’s watch? These hand-me-downs can become family heirlooms, without taking up your valuable space. Think all these things through before you downsize, and you’ll make the actual process as easy as possible.
Are you considering downsizing?