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What To Do With Your Home When It Is Time To Downsize

Bev Curtis

Bev has lived in Columbia for 34 years and was born and raised in Troy, MO...

Bev has lived in Columbia for 34 years and was born and raised in Troy, MO...

Apr 1 7 minutes read

Author: Victoria Standridge

There are plenty of reasons for homeowners to downsize. Whether you are preparing to retire or have recently become an “empty-nester”, or whether you are just looking for a simpler space, downsizing can be a great option. Paying rent or mortgage fees on a smaller home can be a smart economical real estate decision, especially if you don’t really need the extra space. 

As you prepare to downsize, however, there will be a few important things to keep in mind. What steps will you need to follow to get your home ready? And what should you do with your home itself when you are ready to make the change?

In this article, we will take a look at a few helpful hints for getting your home, life, and belongings ready for a big lifestyle change: a downsize.

Clean, Clear, and Organize

The first step in getting ready to downsize your home will be to minimize your belongings. You may want to consider embarking on a “declutter challenge”, which will help pave the way for a clear and easy transition. In any house move, you will want to keep your belongings organized and neatly labeled, that way you cut down on the chaos and confusion that can result when you just cannot remember which box you packed that one important item in. 

For a downsize in particular, you can seize the opportunity to get rid of things you no longer need. Take advantage of the situation to organize each different aspect of your life. For example, clear out your home office by digitizing your work files and important documents into well-organized categories and virtual folders. That way, as long as your new home has fast Wi-fi speeds, all your files will be available to you at a click of mouse, without taking up precious space in your new, downsized living situation. You may even want to consider digitizing health records, tax information from previous years, and things like photo albums. Any annual records you have that are more than ten years old, however, should most likely be thrown out.

Stick to A Proven Method

As you sort through your belongings and decide what to keep and what to toss, try to stick to one of several approaches so that you don’t become overwhelmed. For sentimental items, clothing, and decorative objects in particular, you can try the popular KonMari method: hold each object and intuit whether or not it brings you joy. If it doesn’t add an emotional boost to your life, let it go. Any objects that you keep only because they were gifted to you, or that you keep purely out of guilty associations, should definitely be gotten rid of at this stage in the process. With limited space in your new home, you will need to stick to the essentials- either for utility and practical purposes, or the essential items that you love. 

Or try the “Four-Box” method. In this approach, you will limit your options for what to do with each object to only four choices. These choices usually include sell, put it in trash or recycling, donate, or keep. Sticking to these restricted categories will help keep you focused on truly downsizing your belongings, instead of just putting objects in a costly storage unit. 

Document and Measure

Before you begin preparing for your move, you will want to make sure to fully document your old home, so you are ready to begin hosting digital viewings, virtual walkthroughs, and online home for sale postings. As you put your home up for sale, you will want to share an accurate picture of how the space can be used for prospective buyers. Equally, looking at photos of your space set up with all of its furnishings will be a helpful tool as you downsize. Any decorations or furniture items that draw your eye immediately in the photos should go on your “to-keep” list. Anything that fades into the background, or that you don’t enjoy seeing, can be repurposed, given away, or tossed.

Be sure to measure your old home and new one. Keeping measurements on hand will help you make decisions about things like furniture and home appliances: items that are too big for your new space will have to be left behind, donated, or gifted to someone else. Providing a record of the home size to prospective buyers can help them make similar decisions about how their life would fit into that space. And being able to compare room dimensions and overall sizes can help you prepare for your move and the ensuing lifestyle adjustments. 

The measurement comparison should give you a helpful sense of what to expect as you embark on your downsize shift. By approaching this change as an opportunity for simplifying and redesigning your space, you can embrace the possibilities that this new home presents for you. 

Take It Step By Step


Approaching the downsize process can be overwhelming. The most important thing to keep in mind will be to take the process step by step. Start small, setting yourself limited goals and targets- even sorting through one room at a time, or one cluttered drawer each day, will make a huge difference. Slowly but surely you will make your way through the entire house. 

If at any point the downsizing process becomes too much for you, you can always bring in extra help. Hire a professional to take care of one room, and then learn from their methods. Whatever techniques they use to sort through your items can be applied to other  rooms in the house. And call upon friends and family to assist you. 

Get Ready

Preparing to downsize can be a fantastic opportunity for a simpler, more organized, more tranquil life. Just make sure you start the process early, take it slow, and utilize help- from proven experts, your community, and even professionals. While it may seem like a lot, starting early will allow you to be sure that you are ready to embark on the transition by move-in day. And leaving your old home clean, clear, and free of clutter will make you glad you decided to downsize. 

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