Guide to Downsizing Your Home
Our handy guide to downsizing your home is sure to help you reduce stress throughout the downsizing process. Whether your are downsizing to simplify life, lower your footprint, cut costs, move closer to children and grandchildren, or to address medical needs, Sonoran Sky Real Estate’s Downsizing Guide spells out our proven plan to help you through the downsizing process.
Start early and be persistent
Give yourself plenty of time for this process, because it will inevitably take longer than you expect. Take your time, you don’t need to sort through and downsize your entire house in one weekend. A few weeks, or even a couple of months is a more realistic timeline. Take it one room at a time, and take breaks. Do the rooms you use the most last.
Go through each item one by one. It’s important to give everything you own your attention for at least a second or two. It will also help you develop a strong decision-making process by intently focusing and then choose if the items stays or goes.
If you aren’t rushed, you’ll find downsizing to be less stressful, or even enjoyable.
Take baby steps
You probably already know of things you want to get rid of in the kitchen or garage, but save those big areas for last. This will help you keep the sorting contained and allow you to simply close a door to take a mental break from the process. You likely have years and years of things to sort through. Starting in an area with little emotional attachment, like the laundry room or a linen closet, will allow you to develop a system and get yourself on a roll to move forward.
Eliminate furniture in rooms you won’t have in your new home
Understand your needs. If you’re downsizing from a four-bedroom into a two-bedroom home, 2 sets of sheets for each bed you’ll be setting up is plenty. The rest can go.
Likewise, your new home may not have both a living room and a family room, a breakfast nook and a formal dining area, a 3 car garage, or an office space. Nearly everything in these extra rooms will need to go.
If you are moving to a senior living communities ask if you can spend a few trial nights on site to get an idea of what it would be like to live there. That’s a great way to make sure you find the right fit and know what to bring with you.
It’s easiest to organize backwards. Pack or tag everything you want, and have room for, in your new place; all the things you know are going with you. Then simply share, sale, donate or toss the rest.
Most of us have multiples of nearly everything, you’ll find this is especially true in your kitchen. You’ll have two or three can openers and corkscrews, a couple oversized stock pots, and at least four cookie sheets. Now’s the time to reduce the clutter. If you’re worried about handing-off that big roasting pan because you use it every Thanksgiving… but at no other time during the year, consider giving it to a friend, child or grandchild who will be taking over the gathering.
Make Yes or No piles – NO Maybes!
When you’re going through years of belongings, some things are going to tug at your heartstrings, and you’ll be tempted to make a third pile to “keep if you have space”. Marcella Lambert at Sonoran Sky Real Estate says, “Don’t fall for that trick! You’ll end up with a Maybe Pile that’s bigger than either of the other two piles. When that happens, you haven’t made any progress in sorting, you’ve just moved items across the room.”
Take a hard look at every item you pick up. If you use it regularly, keep it. But realize it’s time to let some things go. If an items has been sitting in a closet or on a shelf untouched for a year or more, you likely don’t need it.
There are some items in your house that you don’t even like, so why on earth would you want to pack it up and carry it to your next home? With the time, energy, and costs of moving you need to be selective of what you are packing.
Reduce collections creatively
It can be hard to let go of a cherished lifetime collection of ceramic frogs or glass paperweights you’ve gathered along life’s journey, but bringing them to a smaller home where they will only eat up space or end up stored in a box where you’ll never see them is not productive.
Instead, pick a couple of your favorites to keep, and take quality photos of the rest. Then, once you get settled, use the photos to make an album or coffee table book that you can enjoy for years to come… without having to dust each item ever again.
Consider making legacy gifts now
Is your grandmothers hutch in your dining area earmarked to go to your daugher one day? And is your son going to get grandpa’s old wood working tools? Or maybe you have a china set your granddaughter adores? If there are certain heirlooms or pieces you plan to leave to your family in your will, consider giving those gifts now.
This has two benefits: you’ll get the items out of your way, and you’ll be able to enjoy the feeling of giving those items to your loved ones. While you’re at it, find out if there are any items your children want that you don’t know about… this is an easy way to make them happy and lighten your load.
You might try to sell some of your items, or use an estate sale service
Consignment shops are a good option for high-end furniture, artwork, collections, handbags, and other accessories; prices are reasonable, and some vendors have trucks that will pick items up from your house.
If you are tech-savvy, OfferUp, eBay, Facebook, and other online apps are a great way to move items… but be cautious about having strangers showing up at your home. Apps that allow others to rate the buyer are a little safer, but still, use caution, arrange to meet buyers in a well-lite, busy area. For the less-than tech savvy, your kids and grandkids may be an option to help you post unwanted items for sale online.
Yard sales are an option if you want to give up a weekend or two. But do be safe, and have plenty of helpers with you.
More often than not, hiring a quality estate sales company is the best and safest option. They work to get you top dollar and guard your property while they are there selling. Plus everything gets done in one week. When downsizing, call us at Sonoran Sky Real Estate for referrals to trusted estate sale companies.
It’s important to realize when selling most used items that you’ll only get pennies on the dollar. So consider how much time and effort you want to invest. Donations might be the better way to go.
Allow yourself time to reminisce
While you’re cleaning and sorting, there will be days when you just want to stop and let the happy memories take over. It’s OK to pause and let your feelings flow. Cry if you need to, or move on to another room and come back. This is why you started early… but don’t let nostalgia prevent you from eventually getting the job done.
When stumbling over an item you don’t know what to do with, ask yourself how it makes you feel. If it brings up any negative or mixed feelings, let it go. If it brings great happiness of course it stays… if you’ll have room for it. If there won’t be enough space, take a photo for your memory album.
The idea is to be surrounded by things you cherish the most in your new home.
Illicit help and bond with friends, kids and grands
Invite your friends, kids and grandkids over for the weekend. Talk to the young ones about where you got your favorite trinkets and keepsakes. Tell them about your family’s heirlooms. Let them help pack, ask questions, and spend time with you. Give them things they show interest in and you know they will like. Take photos together with these times for you memory book.
It can be one more moment your family shares together in the house you’ve loved before you start making those memories together in your next home. Remember that it’s your loved ones who are important in those memories you cherish, not the stuff around you.
Keep in close contact with family and friends to help you deal with the emotional toll of downsizing
Inevitably, most people will struggle with nostalgia when they’ve reached the point where it’s time to downsize.
Change is hard for everyone, but the older we get, the more accustomed we are to our surroundings and our “stuff”… even when all that stuff gets too hard to manage.
These feelings can come from both sadness and fear of the unknown, which is why it’s often best to downsize as early as possible, when it’s easier to adjust to a new environment.
Try not to let the apprehension of a new environment get you down. Set your mind to thinking positive thoughts and looking forward to a new beginning, with new people and experiences. Attitude goes a long way in helping to ease any tension and apprehension of your transition. Focus on the benefits, and appreciate how much simpler life will be with fewer surfaces to dust, spaces to maintain, rooms to vacuum, or towels to wash.
Downsizing doesn’t have to be stressful, sad, or scary. Stay positive and get excited about a simpler way of life!
Know that our team at Sonoran Sky Real Estate is here to help you with any and all of this process. We have an entire Rolodex of quality professionals to help you find a new place, pack, disburse items, prepare your home for the market and sell it for top dollar. We will even help you get moved into your new space. Call us at anytime to find out more ways we can and will help.