But after raising a bunch of kids in a big house, you tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. Downsizing can seem daunting! To help you tackle this task, we offer a few tips to help you along.
Don't Rush Into It
Before you make the final decision to downsize, make sure you're sure. Do you anticipate your kids coming home with children of their own someday? Maybe you want the bigger house to accommodate everyone on holidays. Once you downsize, it will be a big adjustment on space.
Okay, so you've decided that you definitely want to downsize. That's great, but don't be too quick to move, especially if you're very recently empty nesters or retirees. It takes a while for you to figure out what your new lifestyle will be. Will you finally have time to take care of your gardens or do you find you don't want any outdoor maintenance at all? Are you going to entertain a lot or do you plan to travel? Are you going to take up a new hobby like painting or woodworking?
Live your new life for a bit to see what shakes out. Then, once you have an idea for how you're going to spend your time, you can start the process of downsizing.
Determine Your New Space Needs
Now that you have an idea of how you're going to live, determine what your ideal living space would be like. It would even help to know how big you want each room and how many rooms you'd like to have. Consider having a few multi-purpose rooms to keep your square footage down. Maybe you can have an office that's also a guest bedroom. Or a dining room that also serves as a music room.
Schedule in Downsizing Time
Going through all your stuff can take a lot of time and can take an emotional toll. Set aside specific times each day, a couple of hours at least, to go through your stuff. Write it in your calendar and stick to it. Work through as much as you can during that time, and then give yourself permission to stop until the next day.
Getting rid of things is hard. But remember your final goal - to downsize. Ask yourself tough questions. 'Will I really repair this handheld vacuum?' 'Do I really need three gravy boats?' It's also a good time to ask lifestyle questions. 'What's important to me?' 'Does this fit my new lifestyle?' 'Does this bring me joy?' And probably most important, 'Do I want to move this?'
Establish Decision Makers
Give yourself a set of criteria to help you determine if you need to keep something or not. 'Have I used it in the past year (or five)?' 'Am I just holding on to it for sentimental reasons?' 'Could someone else use this more than me?' 'Can I make some money if I sell it?' If you find you're having trouble with these decisions, hire a professional organizer or a good friend who can be objective and supportive.
Do It Now, Not After You Move
Moving companies charge by the weight of the cargo. This means if you're thinking of getting rid of that computer after you move, don't! Do it now. You can recycle electronics, printers, computers, and kitchen appliances. If you're moving to a condo with an association that takes care of the grounds, get rid of your lawnmower and your lawn care implements. Throw away old mattresses (after you move is a great time to invest in new mattresses) instead of moving them.
Tackle the Closets First
Many times downsizing means losing some storage space. So it only makes sense to start with your closets with the goal of eliminating enough stuff to clear up a few closets worth of space.
Measure Your New Rooms
Once you've found a new place to live, measure each space. Maybe that huge sectional you have just won't fit anymore. Sell it before you move and buy a new one after you've moved in. No room for your treadmill? Get rid of it and join the gym. If your kitchen is smaller, keep only those kitchen items that you can't live without.
Be Proud of Small Accomplishments
Downsizing a big family home takes time and endurance. After you've successfully downsized a space, pat yourself on the back. Don't keep looking ahead to all you have yet to do. Just accept credit for what you've accomplished each day.
Before you know it, your whole house will be done and you will soon be living in your new space with only the stuff you need and want there. And you'll be ready to move onto your next stage in life.
Source: Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors