If you have considered downsizing your home the idea of getting rid of most of your clutter and prioritising what is important to you can be overwhelming. In fact, it can put you off the idea completely. But it doesn’t have to be so hard. A little forethought can go a long way. After 8 months of living in an 860 sq/ft (80 sq/m) house/flat/condo with my husband, three-year-old and baby I know a few things. If I was to do this again I’d plan a little better to make the transition more comfortable.
- 12 Life-Changing Benefits of Living in a Smaller Home
- 12 Tips for Reducing Paper Clutter in Your Home
- Downsizing With A Family: Why We’re Going Smaller
- 6 Simple Ways to Declutter Your Life
- 47 Things to Get Rid of Right Now
1. Why are you downsizing your home?
Keep your ‘Why’ front of mind. We downsized primarily to save money. We plan to travel the world, between our two families in Ireland and New Zealand (see: Chasing an Endless Summer – Pipedream or Possibility?) so we need to save money and live frugally in order to make that dream a reality.
I’ll admit, the first few weeks in our small home I didn’t know which way to turn. I was frustrated with the (lack of) space and the sheer amount of work required to declutter. I was super-pregnant and having health issues at the time so it wasn’t an ideal time to downsize, but life is hardly ever plain sailing. For me, it really helped to remember the amount of money we would be saving by living in a smaller space. But money alone wasn’t enough to motivate us – it’s what the money could buy that excited me – in one year we would have saved enough for flights to Europe!
Your why might be completely different. But make sure it’s a clear goal that you’ve established with your partner or family, so you can remind each other of the end game when things get hard.
2. What do you hope to achieve by downsizing your home?
For us, the sole motivation is to be able to travel more. Keeping that in mind has helped us to work out how to execute our downsize. We intend to rent out our home as a vacation rental or house swap while we travel so we need to have a life that is easily movable. I want to be able to pack up all my personal things – photos, kids artwork, important documents, jewelry, toiletries etc – within a few hours and put them in storage.
We’re aiming for a wardrobe that can be packed into a suitcase at a days notice, toys that stack away neatly and enough clutter-free spaces for our guests or swappers to enjoy and make themselves comfortable in.
3. Play with your current floor plan
Depending on where you’re at with your downsizing plans, you could do a trial run in your current home. Remove some furniture and see how it feels to live with less. If you’ve committed to renting or buying a smaller home draw out your floor plan, take measurements and work out exactly how things will fit in your new space. This will help you figure out where or if your furniture will fit in the new space. I wish we had done this, as our lounge suite is too big for our living room so one of our recliners had to go in the master bedroom. It worked out OK though as my baby does not sleep so I have spent many a night holding him in my arms in that armchair.
4. Work out your non-negotiables
I initially thought I could do without a dedicated work space. I figured I could just work from the dining room table. I hadn’t properly considered all the papers and pens and hole punches and staplers and stuff that is needed to run a small business. After moving in and getting frustrated with not having everything I needed in a central place I took a long hard look at our hallway closet and decided it would do the trick. For me a work space is essential but you might need a large closet or a separate shower and bath.
Before you choose your downsized house, make sure you have enough space to perform your core daily functions. Not doing so will drastically affect the outcome of your downsize.
5. Stop buying stuff the minute you decide to downsize.
This is just good financial management. Until you know how you live in a small space it’s really not wise to make new purchases in case they don’t fit or they don’t work.
Another thing to get started on before you make the move is getting rid of the things that are not important to you. I’m talking about the piles of paper, non-important books (if a book doesn’t make me smarter I consider it not worthy of keeping), clothes and other general junk. Duplicates of important items or anything you haven’t used in over a year is a good place to start.
6. Storing things is ok
I have one non-conventional piece of advice: don’t get rid of everything. If there is not enough space for the things you are unsure about keeping put them in storage until you know how you feel in your new space.
Downsizing your home is a highly emotional process. In fact, it can be a lot like grieving. You are changing your life and giving up the things you once loved. If you’re struggling to reduce your possessions to fit into your new small house, keeping a few things that you’re undecided on in storage or with a trusted friend or relative is OK. The minimalism police won’t arrest you.
7. You are more than the house you live in
If you are considering downsizing your home remember that your value as a human is not defined by where you live or the possessions you hold. A fuller life is ahead of you but the transition period can be tough so give yourself grace and only part with the things that you’re comfortable with getting rid of.
Have you considered downsizing? Any other tips you’d like to add?