There often comes a point in our lives when we decide it’s time to scale back and move into a smaller home. Sometimes it’s because the last chick has flown the coop and we no longer need a house with multiple bedrooms, or it might be because a simpler way of life just seems to make sense as we get older. Things we’ve collected over the years become clutter rather than treasures, and the idea of being in a smaller space with less stuff is appealing from a cleaning and maintenance point of view.
If you’re thinking of taking this step but wonder how small you should go, where you can offload your extra stuff, and what other things you should consider, we have some advice compiled with the help of The Brel Team and Care2.
10 tips for downsizing
- You can still entertain. Most condos have party rooms that you can use when you have more guests than will fit in your apartment. That means you can still host Thanksgiving dinner! What’s more, if the condo also has guest suites, you can put your out of town family up for the night too.
- Put a positive spin on it. Yes, moving to smaller home means less space and possibly no yard or garden. But think of the positives: you may have a pool and exercise room in your condo, and if you’re moving from the suburbs to a more urban area you’ll be a walk away from restaurants, theatres and other fun activities. And without all the extra stuff that you used to have to manage, sort, clean and organize you’ll have more time, money and energy to do those new, exciting activities.
- You can still keep your memories. With digital cameras it’s easy to document treasures like children’s artwork, your teapot collection or that basement full of sports memorabilia. It may make it easier to part with all but the most sentimental items if you know you can flip through an online photo album or online scrapbook and see all your old favorite things. Don’t forget that selling valuable keepsakes will give you extra money to do things like travel or enjoy dinner out every now and then.
- Now is the time to treat yourself. If you’ve been saving the good towels, nice sheets and fine china for company, now is the time to donate your day-to-day things and start using the good stuff on yourselves. You won’t have storage space for multiples, so use that wedding china every day—you’re worth it!
- Cull thoughtfully and efficiently. Have your children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews over and ask them to go shopping in your house. Obviously there are things you will want and need to take with you, but what better way to re-home the items you don’t want than to give them to family members who do?
- Donate. Whatever items you and your family members don’t want can be donated to charities that will happily give them a new life. Check online for charities in your area that will pick up large or heavy items like furniture or boxes of books. You might also contact a local women’s shelter, place of worship or homeless shelter to see if they need any of the items you have to give.
- Be practical. If you have items that you don’t use frequently—or only use if company is coming over—consider parting with those items and borrowing or renting them when you need them. Storage space in small homes and condos is at a premium, so it makes sense to get rid of things you rarely use.
- Keep your clothes under control. Closet space isn’t always plentiful in smaller homes, so toss anything you haven’t worn in years, and get rid of as many multiple items as possible. When you do purchase new clothes make sure you always donate one old item for every new one that comes in so the closet is always under control.
- Think ahead. Seniors often consider moving from a large home to a smaller townhouse, but remember that stairs can become increasingly difficult as we age, so a larger condo might be a better option in the long run.
- Choose wisely. Figure out what bookcase you’ll be taking with you, for example, and only take the number of books and knick-knacks that will fit on that shelf. The same goes for artwork (figure out how many are going to fit on your walls and only take the ones that will), craft supplies (determine how many bins or drawers you’ll be able to dedicate to yarn and needles) and other items. That way there won’t be any surprises when you move in because everything will have a designated place and room to fit there.
Moving from a family home into a smaller space can be an emotional journey, but planning and organization can make it simpler to manage, and looking at all the positives that will come as a result of this new and exciting chapter in your life can help ease the transition. Home sweet home is wherever you are, after all.
412763C CAN/US (09/15)