To-Dos for Downsizing Your Home

By Nicole C.W. Gruter

Moving to a smaller home can be an exciting and refreshing lifestyle change whether you’re an empty nester, looking to save money or simply want new digs. But, winnowing down a lifetime’s worth of items to fit into your new abode can also present a challenge. This stressful transition can be eased with a few pointers to help focus the chaos of downsizing while moving.


Begin methodically combing through your possessions as soon as possible. Moving is stressful enough, much less preparing for a smaller dwelling, so start the process early on to help alleviate anxiety, provide better decision- making and give time to physically and psychologically let go of possessions.

It’s easy to underestimate how long downsizing takes. Organizing books, trying on clothes, sorting tools and matching Tupperware containers to their (seemingly lost) lids can quickly turn into a time suck. By strategically and consistently chipping away at the task (a max of one to three hours a day to keep burnout at bay), you’ll avoid panic- packing and catch-all boxes that often wind up unopened in your new home’s basement, sometimes for years on end.

There are so many last-minute details to tend to with a move, so planning repeated time slots to purge will pay off in the end.


If possible, don’t rent a storage unit. According to a 2021 StorageCafe survey, nearly 40% of Americans spend billions of dollars annually storing items that are too often forgotten about over time. A small percentage of storage unit renters do house large items like boats or RVs — but the vast majority of these units store items such as mementos, clothing, appliances and furniture.

By default, storage units encourage us to postpone decisions on our possessions at the expense of our wallets. Pragmatically, you’ll have one less bill every month. And psychologically, you’ll commit to your smaller home in earnest while inviting lightness into your life.


A new home brings with it a fresh chapter. Embrace this momentum by leaving “old energy” such as abandoned hobbies or memories you’d like to move past. Pieces like that macrame basket you began 10 years ago or the hockey gear you’re hoping to dust off fall into this category. No matter how attached you may be to the idea of revisiting certain passions you’ve had, these items are unlikely to get attention any time soon.

Do you have a sweater that reminds you of an unpleasant memory, or maybe a painting harkens a tinge of resentment from a difficult relationship? Get rid of it. You aren’t obligated to keep anything because someone gifted it to you, it’s worth money, you got it for a steal, it’s beautiful or you could use it “someday.” Being realistic about where you’re at in this energy-filled juncture will free up physical and emotional space, allowing your future (and your home) better breathing room.


Keeping that breathing room in mind, measure your new home’s dimensions to determine which larger items like dressers, couches and desks will (or won’t) easily fit. You may need to consider buying smaller furnishings to avoid feeling cramped. Compare how many kitchen drawers and cabinets exist in your old and new home, then plan accordingly. Welcome this chance to scrutinize how often you use cooking gadgets and appliances, and consider scaling down. Downsized space shouldn’t equate to crowded space. Prepping on the front end helps avoid being overwhelmed with belongings that won’t fit comfortably once you’re in your smaller home.

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