As we prepare to move out of the family home and start the next chapter of our lives somewhere more manageable and compact, we’re confronted with a very big question: What should I do with all this stuff I’ve accumulated over the years? It can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’ve got an attic full of memories and mementos, and what you perceive to be valuable items that will be hard to let go of. Here’s how to get started:
Be realistic about what will fit where. Measure your existing furniture to make sure it will fit in your new space, and carefully consider whether you’d rather have a clutter-free fresh start in your new home or cram as much of your old life into there as possible! Think through each room in your new space, and how you’d like these spaces to look. New, appropriately-sized furniture will likely serve you much better.
Give yourself plenty of time. Many people leave things to the last minute, either because they can’t face the task at hand or because they don’t think it will take that long. The more time you give yourself, the better, and have realistic goals—this month we will tackle the attic, next month the bedrooms, etc—to help you get everything done well in advance of your move.
Accept that it’s just stuff. One of the hardest things to come to terms with when downsizing is that nobody wants your stuff. In most cases, your kids won’t want your old furniture, no matter how expensive it was when you bought it, or how much you love it. Same for the ornaments and other bits and pieces you’ve accumulated. You may not be able to sell those Royal Doulton figurines (or whatever else you collected) that you thought were a solid investment either. Tastes have changed, and there’s a glut of china, crystal, and other old-fashioned items in thrift stores because of this. Ask your kids or other family members if they want items and if they don’t, try not to take it to heart.
Make a profit on big-ticket items. So your kids might not want your furniture, but that doesn’t mean that somebody else won’t. That dining set for 12, second television, or a too-big sofa may well sell easily on Kijiji or Facebook marketplace. If you have the time to post items and deal with buyers, this is a great way to make a little cash to help pay for your move.
Throw a yard sale, and price things cheap. Think carefully about how much space you realistically have in the home you are moving to, then be ruthless going through all the stuff you won’t be able to fit there. Do you need three casserole dishes or two full sets of dishes? Probably not! Purge your home of these types of things, because if you don’t you’ll only end up having to deal with them after your move! Things that don’t sell shouldn’t come back into your home, send the stuff to your local thrift store knowing that your old stuff will be sold to help others in need.
Curate your memories. Boxes of photos can seem impossible to get rid of, and you don’t have to. Instead, pick the photos you love and have them scanned onto a hard drive that you can access, use a digital photo frame to scroll through those memories or make them into easily shelved photo books.
Ask for help. Downsizing can be a distressing task, especially if you have to handle it solo. Enlist the help of friends and family to go through things with you. Another pair of eyes can help you make more rational decisions about what you can and can not give up, and it’s lovely to talk through old objects with someone who might have the same attachment to them that you do. If you’re really struggling, consider hiring a professional organizer to help you get everything sorted out.
Take heart. As hard a task as downsizing is, few people regret shedding stuff once it has gone. In fact. Most people report feeling lighter, and that they feel much freer now they aren’t encumbered by a lifetime of stuff. It’s a hard process, but so worthwhile.
Here at Havill’s, we’ve watched so many retirees downsize and move into our homes much happier for it. You’re starting a new life, and you deserve to not have to worry about so many things! Give us a call and let us help you find the perfect home for your new streamlined life!