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Essential Things To Consider For A Better, Easier Downsizing Experience

Posted by Karen on January 11, 2021

Written by Karen Hutchinson, REALTOR® and Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

Real happiness requires less than you think.

You’ve Decided To Downsize, But What’s Next?

It’s essential that you go through your household possessions to determine what to keep and what to part with.

Keep telling yourself that nothing will come into your new home that you don’t absolutely love. When you adopt that mindset, it makes it easier to get rid of things you already have.

There are a few reasons you need to part with excess stuff :

  • When you list your house for sale, it will appear more spacious, which is important to a buyer.
  • You’ll reap the reward of having a head-start on packing for your move.
  • You may have a lifetime of cherished memories that will not fit into your next home.

It can be a difficult and emotional process, so I’m here to help you through it.

Start Early!

To keep your stress levels in check, start early. Don’t try to cram this task into one weekend.

Set aside some time to sell, donate, and gift your things to the places and people that will appreciate them.

Take pleasure in knowing you are helping yourself move into your future by dealing with the things of your past.

Reward Yourself!

Take breaks as you work your way through your projects.

Treat yourself to a special meal, even at home. Use your special dishes for the last time if you’ve decided to part with them. If you’ve decided to keep them, use them! Celebrate all the decisions you’ve made!

Two Of The Most Difficult Categories

In my personal experience I have found that the two most difficult categories to deal with when purging household contents are: the stockpile of stuff left behind by the adult children who have moved out, and the endless paperwork of life.

Of course there are many other categories to consider when downsizing, but if you can get a handle on these things early in the game, you will be on your way to mastering the entire project.

This Is One Of My Favourite Purging Techniques

I will start with my tried and true favourite… this really works with my grownup kids!

The problem: The kids have moved out but have left many of their treasures behind. You don’t have the heart to toss these things out without consulting them first.

You also know there’s no way all this stuff will fit into your new home or your new life!

The solution: The phone on your camera isn’t just for taking food photos at your favourite restaurant.  The camera on your phone is a home organizing lifesaver!  

Take pictures of your kids’ stuff! Send the kids a quick email or text asking them whether you should keep or toss the treasures they have probably forgotten exist.

And the BEST part: If they want you to toss, then that’s simple. If they want you to keep it for them, give them a deadline for pickup. If they miss the deadline, you will deliver it to them! Or toss it! Simple! (Trust me, I’ve seen this in action.)

The Good Old Shoebox

The problem: How many photos do you have that are not in photo albums? Most of us have an archive of our lives stored in shoe boxes. Good intentions at one time, but now how do you deal with it?

The solution: It’s time to get harsh. There’s no sugar-coating it.

The easy part is to dispose of duplicates and negatives as a first step.

If you have travelled or attended many events in your lifetime, keep ONE meaningful photo from each occasion.

These two simple steps should significantly pare down the pile.

The Family Museum

The problem: Are you saving every sentimental artifact and family letter from the 1800’s that has ever come your way, just in case you open a museum or write that memoir? Are you going to open a museum, or write a memoir? Probably not.

But how do you decide what to get rid of?

Your first impulse might be to toss it all out and be done with it. That’s not entirely wrong, but is there something mixed in with it all that might be of interest to future generations?

The solution: Test yourself by asking these two questions: Would this item be of value or interest to any of my family or friends? And does this item have a significant historical value that might interest a museum? If you answer “no” to these questions, it’s time to toss it!

A Shred of Happiness

The problem: Now that you have pared down the contents of your home by working your way through the above-noted steps, it’s time to either dispose of these things properly or save them digitally.

The solution: For confidential paperwork, like ancient bank and financial statements, tax returns, or letters from the past that you would be mortified to have someone read, you need to get your shredder working for you.

A household shredder is reasonably affordable, but if that’s not something you want to spend time or money on, there are often community shredding events that are free to the public. Keep your eyes out for that type of announcement or contact your local community office.

You will feel secure and happy when you know your documents have been safely disposed of.

To archive essential documents and photos digitally, your computer’s scanner program is a lifesaver.

If you don’t consider yourself technically savvy in that area, perhaps enlist one of your kids or grandkids. A warning though: you might have to shell out a few dollars to convince them. It’s time-consuming, but this might be a way for them to make a bit of money and connect with you on another level as you go through it all.

An excellent tip to remember to save time and money is to keep what is only absolutely necessary. Again, it’s time to get harsh!

Let It Go

The problem: The contents of your home are not limited to photos and paperwork. You have many years of collected books, toys, furniture and furnishings that are still in excellent condition, but you no longer have a use for them or will not have space for them in your next home.

And, it’s becoming increasingly clear that our adult children do not want this stuff heaped on them. They likely have enough stuff of their own.

Your heart will break though if you don’t find someone or someplace that will find these things useful.

The solution: It’s time to make a list of all the items in your house that would find a good life elsewhere.

Along with that list of items, there needs to be a second list. The second list will be for local charities that will accept these things.

It will take some work on your part to match your stuff to the appropriate charities. Some organizations will even pick up your items. In the end, you will feel good about having things like the dollhouse your granddaughter has outgrown go to a toddler who will get a few more years of joy from it.

Need Some Help?

It’s no small task to go through a lifetime’s worth of goods and memories, and decide what to keep or toss.

It’s also no small task to deal with the piles of things once you have made the decision to either keep or toss.

Fortunately, there are companies that specialize in these very projects. Please contact me if you would like me to connect you with one of these services by clicking here.

I would be happy to chat with you about how I can help you reach your real estate goals or answer your real estate-related questions.

Please contact me by email or by booking a phone call with me by clicking here.

Some other articles that I’ve written that you might enjoy as you get ready to list your home:



2 thoughts on “Essential Things To Consider For A Better, Easier Downsizing Experience

  • Val Laferriere
    on January 14, 2021

    Very nice blog post! Another way to get rid of papers no longer need is in your fireplace or fire pit 😎 It’s way more satisfying than shredding!

    • on January 14, 2021

      Hahaha… the fire pit is definitely one way to go!

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