The choice to downsize is often a hard one to make and can mean some tough decisions. Often the main motivator for downsizing is to make life easier or the realisation that the family home is too large or needs too much maintenance.
If you have decided to downsize because it is the best option for you, congratulations?
Once your decision is made and the move is on the approaching horizon, start preparing to successfully downsize. Here are some of my tips to keep you on track:
- Sorting is the key to ensure you only take what you need with you. The last thing you want is for your new home to be overwhelmed with more stuff than it can comfortably house.
- Taking the time to sort pre-move will save you money – you will have less to move and less to unpack at the other end. It also helps you relax into your new home as you have already made most of the hard decisions.
- Sorting will show you what you have and help you decide on what to keep, give to family or friends, sell, donate or toss –
- You don’t need multiple items
- You don’t need broken items
- You don’t need out-of-date items
- In the kitchen think about what you actually use – e.g. how many saucepans or mixing bowls do you need?
- If you have never used an item or can’t remember the last time you used it, is it possible to let it go?
- Most people only wear 20-30% of what is in their wardrobe – think about this as it’s quite surprising but often true – that means 70% is taking up valuable space. So assess how much of your wardrobe you wear – can you make what you wear regularly 60% with 40% for favourite pieces you can’t let go?
- Plan how you want to live in each room in your new home and only take furniture that lets you live this dream. If you want to invest in some new pieces, don’t be held back by the need to keep furniture that has served you well but is no longer functional, comfortable or attractive.
- While sorting through your kitchen, clear out any out-of-code food or food you no longer eat. Now is the time to run down food stocks, to minimise what needs to be packed.
- Do a thorough sorting of your bathroom/s and laundry. Be tough and toss any cleaners, cleaning materials or bathroom products you no longer use.
- If you have a lot of books, do some thinking about how many you need, how many you read and whether you need to keep them all. If your books bring you joy, then plan good storage options for them in your new home.
- Think about your paperwork – as we age, we often find it hard to organise our paperwork. So identify a simple system that works for you that takes care of your important papers, bill paying, reminders and your in & out flow of daily papers.
- The current ATO requirements are to keep the last 7 years of documents. You can let the rest go – hire in a secure bin if needed. If you find it hard to stick to this 7 year requirement, investigate other options such as scanning documents.
- Magazines and newspapers can often pile up & become a problem – if you have a tendency to keep these because “you are going to read that article one day”, set a “use-by-date” where you jettison them after a certain date – letting these build into large piles can become overwhelming and lead to indecision and unhealthy environments.
- Family photographs are often challenging as we all tend to have so many. Sorting photographs is a great task to undertake with family, particularly children or grandchildren who may want to help you in some way but don’t know how. Set up a guideline for what you will keep – you don’t need every photo maybe just the best ones, you don’t need photos of people you can’t remember, maybe just keep a few photos from holidays but not the whole album. Make notes on the back of key photographs to help your family remember in the future.
- There may be other groups of stuff that challenge you. Think about them logically, what the stuff means to you, whether you love it, whether it has served you well in your life and is no longer needed, or whether it still has a purpose to support you in the coming years.
- Remember, downsizing means that you are moving to smaller space, so realistically you cannot take everything with you. (It’s amazing how many times people pack up a large house and cram into all into their new smaller home – the poor removalists end up stacking boxes wherever there is room!)
- Finally, if your dream is to stay in your family home, consider downsizing within your home to make it easier to live in in your coming years …
Happy sorting, take care …
Based in Balwyn North, Vic, I have sorted 100’s of homes & helped 100’s of clients. I am an expert member of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers & have achieved certificates in Chronic Disorganisation, Aging, Life Transitions & Hoarding from the Institute of Challenging Disorganization (USA). I regularly speak about smart downsizing & farewelling the family home