Downsizing requires a good deal of planning ahead. Many underestimate the time and effort required to downsize and declutter. Here are a few tips for planning out your process.
Certain demographics are opting to downsize. While a larger house is generally appealing to many here in the U.S, most people don’t factor in the cost and effort of maintaining a large property. Many families purchase homes that can accommodate all members of the family. But, as children grow up and move out, what are you going to do with the extra space?
One option is to contemplate downsizing. With no need for three extra bedrooms, coupled with a higher mortgage and property taxes versus a smaller home, it might be time to consider downsizing your home.
Downsizing and decluttering your home is no easy feat. But, with some careful planning and before-hand knowledge, you’ll find this process to be much easier than you think. We’ve provided you with advice that applies to downsizing and is applicable no matter your reasons for doing so. Here are our 6 tips for how to downsize and declutter your home.
Make an inventory of your belongings
Before you can begin decluttering, we recommend that you put together an inventory of your belongings. Moving out can be a stressful process, so preparation can go a long way. An inventory can be a helpful tool, not only for organizing your items, but also for organizing your planning process. If you’re downsizing to a smaller home, you don’t want to waste your storage space on items you no longer need.
Establishing what is essential versus nonessential is a key step in decluttering your home. You’ll want to avoid packing items that you don’t need. At the end of the day, why would you want to pay shipping fees for items you don’t need anymore? If you’re having trouble deciding, here are a few questions to ask yourself for each item in question:
- Do I absolutely need this?
- Can this item be donated?
- Is this something that should be thrown away?
Instead of throwing away items that you no longer need, consider donating belongings so that someone else can use them. Old electronics, clothing, furniture, kitchen appliances, sports equipment, and books are all items that donation centers will gladly accept. Generally, if an item hasn’t been used in over a year, then you should consider donating.
If you’re thinking about selling a few of your items, you’ll most likely want to start on eBay or Craigslist. We recommend searching each item you want to sell to get a feel for how much you can get. Here are some items that may be worth selling:
- Sports & trading cards
- Video games & video game consoles
- Exercise equipment
- Musical instruments
- Old books
The biggest caveat with services such as eBay and Craigslist is that most items are sold on auction, which generally takes about a week. If all else fails, a garage sale is always a solid choice.
Buy your decluttering items
Once you have your inventory, the next step is to purchase items that you will use to help declutter. Here are a few items we recommend you purchase:
- Large Garbage bags
- Large cardboard boxes for packing
- Small cardboard boxes for items you are donating
- Rubber gloves for trash
- Packing paper and tape
- A large dumpster
Generally, items for donating can be put in garbage bags. Don’t worry about organizing the items that you plan on donating. Many donation centers will gladly accept garbage bags full of clothing or toys, as they do their own sorting on site. If you need a dumpster, call your local garbage company and ask what their rates are. The biggest benefit of having a dumpster is that you won’t have to worry about taking garbage to the dump. This method will not only save you time, but it will also save you money once you factor in costs of making several dump trips.
Focus on one room at a time
Now that you have your supplies and inventory handy, you can begin to start cleaning. We recommend you start with one room at a time. If you think you can save time by tackling several rooms simultaneously, think again. Not only is this more stressful than it needs to be, but it may end up costing you more time and energy than the alternative.
We recommend that you use the Three-Box Method for each room. Label each box accordingly; “keep”, “get rid of” and “store”.
The first box is reserved for items that are useful in your daily life. These are the “must-haves” that you will need in the future. Try not to add duplicate items as you organize, as these are items you can donate.
Items that go in the second box should be separated into two groups: items to donate and items to toss. See the first tip to learn about the benefits of donating. The last box is for items that will be placed in storage.
Once you have successfully separated all items in a room by using this method, you can begin to pack and organize. Find a space in your home to organize your items. We recommend putting items in three different areas of your garage. Continue to add to these piles until you have finished going room-by-room. At this point, we recommend donating everything that you identified, and then throwing away the rest.
Here is our recommended order of rooms to organize using these methods:
- Spare rooms
- Living room
We recommend starting with your garage, as this is likely the largest room in your house. All items will be stored in here while decluttering, so ensuring there is enough room is key to your success. Your home will be organized and decluttered in no time if you trust the process!
Going digital is guaranteed to help you save a ton of space. Old papers and files collected over the years in your cabinet can head to the shredder. In general, it’s recommended that you get rid of statements or documents that you have online access to. Any tax-related documents older than seven years can be shredded. Everything else should be scanned and saved to your computer.
If you’ve collected countless photo albums over the years, it may be time to upload them to your computer. To take it a step further, we recommend uploading all of your files to the cloud so that you can access them from anywhere. Once you have everything uploaded, ask a relative if they would like to take them and give them a second life.
Avoid renting a storage unit if possible
At the end of the day, you’re downsizing to save money. Why pay a monthly fee to store items you no longer need?
Storage units enable the bad habit of keeping things you don’t use or need, all while paying for the privilege to do so. If you’re having trouble saying goodbye to a few items, remember the One Year Rule – donate or toss away any item that you have not used within the last year.
Items that you don’t want to move into your new home should either be sold, donated, or trashed. Many collectables older than the 1980s may have value, so check out an online marketplace like eBay before you make a decision.
Measure out your new space
Downsizing means less space, so we recommend measuring your new home before deciding what to bring. After you have that calculation, measure your furniture and see what will and won’t fit in your new home. Rather than squeezing large furniture into a small space, take this opportunity to simplify and redesign your space.
If you don’t have the exact measurements of your new place or don’t have one selected yet, focus on decluttering instead. If you are looking to sell as-is, Sundae could be the right fit for you. It’s a super-fast, stress-free method of selling a house as-is.
Once you do have a new place lined up and have the measurements you need, we recommend returning to those larger items you were on the fence about.
When measuring out your new space, we recommend taking the opportunity to find out your storage limitations. Before moving in, assess whether you need to install shelves or other storage increasing additions.
An easier way to sell
If you follow these 6 steps, you’ll be amazed by how much time and stress you saved. Pre-planning is everything, so try to create a timeline and set some hard dates to follow. With all of these strategies under your belt, you’ll find the process to be stress-free.
If you want to skip the hassle altogether, give Sundae a call and let us help. Homeowners who sell to an investor on our Marketplace can leave any items they don’t want to bring, skipping the process entirely.
Learn more about how you can sell and move easily with Sundae.
Zach Child is a recent graduate from the University of Washington with an interest in digital marketing strategy. At Sundae, Zach is part of the team that distributes editorial content across social channels and is responsible for the creation of visual content that helps grow Sundae’s brand.