Stress-Free Downsizing: 3 Essential Steps for Moving Into a Smaller Space

For many years, people have devoted their time and energy to eagerly climbing up the property ladder, each time moving into a bigger, grander home. There comes a time, however, when they begin to crave less space, not more.

Many people come to this stage in their lives for many different reasons.

It could be that your children have left and you now have an ‘empty nest’; there may be no point in maintaining a space that is no longer being used. It could also be that your retirement is already planned and you do not wish to spend more time or money than is necessary for maintaining a large home; in fact, you may already be prepared to put your property on the market.

You may also have recently adopted the principle of living small, owning fewer possessions and producing less waste. Whatever your reason, sometimes it just happens that you are forced to downsize and move location. However, you need to be mindful that downsizing can be enormously stressful.

Don’t discount the emotional wrench of leaving a much-loved home and beginning a new lifestyle elsewhere. It is hard, whether you are moving near or far.

From Big to Small

Inevitably, the volume of your possessions would have increased through the years to fit the size of your current home, not your future home. In some smaller homes, clever storage ideas have been put to good use. However, as a general rule, you are likely to have less storage space in a smaller home than before.

Let’s be honest: if you are going to have less space, then you’ll need to have less stuff, too. Reducing the number of your belongings can take a lot of time, willpower and some difficult decisions to overcome.

All of this makes downsizing a particularly stressful experience. Here are a few suggestions to make the process much easier:

1. Have a Plan for Your No-Longer-Needed Belongings

You already know that a smaller home means less space for your things. This means you may need to find new homes for some of your personal belongings. Most people are uncomfortable with waste and the act of throwing things out, but the trash isn’t the only possibility.

It may be that some of your items are still saleable. In this case, consider using an online auction, local online selling site or a traditional yard sale. You may be surprised: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure after all, and you may be rewarded with unexpectedly good proceeds from the sale of your items.

You can also choose to donate items to friends and family, or to charities who could either use the items or sell them to raise funds. Charities may be happy to collect bigger items or a high volume of smaller items. For anything else, check what can be recycled in your local community.

The one thing to remember is that ‘rehoming’ your possessions will take more time and effort than adding them to the trash, so this isn’t a job to be left until the last moment.

2. Have a Clear-Out Strategy in Place

The only answer to the problem of less space is to be ruthless. If you are going from four bedrooms to two, for instance, you’ll need to find new homes for two of your four sets of bedroom furniture. If you will have 50% less storage space, then it seems sensible to take only 50% of your stuff with you.

Keep this number as a rough goal.

You might say, “for every two items I take out of a closet, I can only take one with me.” This might seem terrifying, but it’s helpful to keep it in mind as a rough target. Don’t be afraid; there is a way to do this that ensures you don’t need to lose anything of sentimental value or of genuine good use. You’ll also probably be surprised how many things there are in your home that you’ll gladly part with.

  • Firstly, allow plenty of time to avoid making hurried decisions about what to keep; you don’t want to regret giving items away later.
  • Work out what you will need in your new home and plan to remove surplus items. Lots of things may be duplicated across many rooms: lamps, side tables, occasional chairs, pot plants, vases, and many other everyday items. You won’t need so many of each from now on.
  • Plan to clear out room by room, closet by closet, and cabinet by cabinet.

At the beginning of the process, it may seem like this is an insurmountable challenge but trying to do a small amount each day can keep you on target.  A cupboard or small area per day is achievable.

When you begin, have a box or bag ready for each destination so that things can be popped straight in: one container each for recycling, charity, friends, etc.

3. Take Measurements of Important Possessions

Some find it impossible to leave some things behind, however impractical it might be to take them. Many are lucky enough to have pieces of furniture of enormous sentimental value. For example, you may want to take your grandmother’s chest of drawers or move a piano, for example.

Don’t leave it to chance and hope or assume these special items will fit. Measure the items now, keep a record, and when you view properties, take the measurements with you. You’ll need to check that there is not only a good space for them to reside in permanently but that they’ll also fit through doorways and stairways during the move.

Finally, if this item is particularly valuable or unusual, then you may need to make specific plans in advance with your moving company.

The Results

Follow these three steps, and you should be left with just the right amount of furniture and furnishings for your smaller new home.

You will have only your most treasured and useful possessions to take with you as well. Finally, you’ll have the sense of satisfaction that comes from rehoming items that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Now, with a lighter load, you can start the next chapter of your life, free and easy.




Kim Hill works on Marketing at Adams & Rofe Removals and Storage and has been a dynamic figure in the removal industry for over 30 years. For relocating families, individuals or offices around Sydney or all over Australia, Kim will develop the perfect removal plan to take the stress out of your next move.

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