8 Tips for Downsizing to a Smaller Home

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated February 24, 2022
Couple packing moving boxes
Photo: Cavan / Getty Images

 Now’s the time to sweat the small stuff

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So, you’ve bought or signed a lease for a smaller home, and now you’re stressing over how to fit eight rooms-worth of furniture and personal belongings into a four-room space. First, take a deep breath. Moving can be stressful, and it’s even more difficult when you must downsize in preparation to move into a smaller home. 

That said, you can make the process easier with a bit of organization, planning, and a few tips from the tiny home community. Read on to learn our top tips for streamlining and simplifying the downsizing process. 

1. Start Organizing Early

The key to any successful move is pushing aside procrastination and starting the packing process early. You’ll need time to go through all your things, so start the decluttering and organizing process at least a month before you need to move. It also helps to create a schedule and block off chunks of time to work through different rooms in the house. 

2. Take Measurements of Your Furniture

Will your four-piece sectional fit in your new home? The only way to find out is to measure it and compare it to your new space. This step is especially important for a downsizing move, since you’ll likely be filling smaller rooms than your current home. You should sell or donate anything that won’t fit comfortably in your new digs. 

3. Choose a Decluttering Method

 Adopt a decluttering method when parting ways with items you no longer use or love. If this process sounds wholly unappealing to you, consider hiring a professional organizer. Here are a few of the most popular decluttering tactics:

  • KonMari: Choose the items that bring you joy, and declutter everything else. Marie Kondo suggests working through each item by type, such as pulling out every pair of shoes, and spending a moment with each pair, considering if they still bring you happiness.

  • Minimalist Game: On the first day of a month, declutter one item. On day two, declutter two, and so on. By the end of the month (assuming it is 31 days long and you play the game every day), you will have removed 496 things from your home. 

  • Four Box: ​​Label four boxes as “put away,” “give away,” “throw away,” and “undecided.” Place items from your home in each of the boxes, process them based on their label, and continue throughout the house. Avoid using the “undecided” box as much as possible as it can create a clutter feedback loop.

  • Packing Party: This method takes the decluttering from your hands and gets you ready for a move. Invite friends over and pack everything you own into boxes. For the next month or two, only take out things you need; anything that still remains in the boxes at the end of the set period gets sold or donated.

4. Create a Plan for Unwanted Items

Now that you have boxes full of unwanted things, what should you do with them? Here are some ideas:

  • Donate: Local charities and thrift stores should accept any clothing or household items in good condition. 

  • Host a garage sale: If you have some items of value, it might be worth holding a garage sale to make a few extra bucks. Items often in demand at garage sales include furniture, children’s toys and clothing, power tools, and lawn equipment.

  • Sell online: If you don’t want to deal with a yard sale, sell things online on Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace.

  • Give to family: If some items hold sentimental value for your family, consider giving them to your siblings, kids, or another family member to hang onto for safekeeping.

5. Stop Buying Things

During the process of downsizing, commit to not buying any new or unnecessary things. This method also goes for gifts: If your friends and family are eager to give you something for your birthday, ask them to take you out for a nice dinner instead of adding more objects to your space. 

6. Go Digital

In this day and age, you can easily digitize Important documents and photographs to save significant space and clutter. Start by scanning necessary paperwork and saving them to your computer (make sure to back up the hard drive!) and buy a digital photo frame to display your photographs in your new home after they’ve also been properly scanned and saved. 

7. Give Yourself Time to Process the Change

Contemplative woman with moving boxes
Photo: DigitalVision / Getty Images

Going through an entire home of items can be emotionally exhausting and bring up all kinds of memories—happy, sad, and everything in between. Give yourself time to process these emotions and enjoy your final days in your current home before moving on to your next chapter. 

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