At one time, downsizing was something that couples did once their children had ‘flown the nest’ and they were just about to retire. Today, ‘downsizers’ include families moving from rented to private property and young couples trying to get their first foot on the property ladder. For whatever reason, you are making the move to a smaller property, it is only now as the clock starts ticking that you are realising that a smaller property means less space and that you have a huge number of belongings to try and fit into that space.
Hopefully, you will realise this dilemma a good 12 weeks before you move because this will enable you to downsize in a methodical way and to have the opportunity to generate some extra cash too. The masters of moving house and not gathering clutter are military families. Every time they move they are given a size allowance for their kit and if they go over that allowance, the extra packing boxes cost a significant amount to move too – it certainly makes you ruthless about unwanted items!
Planning to downsize
The first thing to do is to draw a room plan of your new property and then to mark in each room, which pieces of furniture will go where. By doing this, you will be able to pinpoint which furniture you will not be taking. Whilst it is good to be sensible, don’t be too strict on yourself and if there is a particular piece that means a great deal to you, it is definitely worth taking it with you or you could regret it later.
The second stage is to draw up a room by room list of all the equipment and furnishings that you simply cannot live without. It is worth thinking about the character of your new place and whether the colour and styles you have will suit or whether it is worth trying to sell them and treat yourself to a fresh new look for your new abode. Although it is time consuming, it is essential to measure all the furniture that you do plan to move, to ensure that the various pieces will fit into their new designated rooms comfortably.
The third step is the most challenging of all! With a large pad and pen, go through your home room by room, drawing up a list of items that are ‘surplus to requirements’. It is worth remembering the military saying that if you haven’t used something for two years then you can definitely live without it!
Downsize each room individually
The kitchen will be your first challenge, but you must be strict with yourself and ask yourself whether you really are going to use the pasta maker/ ice cream machine that you were given five years ago and is still in its box! Once you have finished the kitchen you will ‘be on a roll’ and will enthusiastically tackle the next Pandora’s box – the attic. This definitely calls for firmness because whilst it is great to treasure some memorabilia from your offspring’s childhood, their entire GCSE coursework from ten years ago is definitely a step too far! You will soon have a sizeable list of unwanted possessions!
The ultimate challenge for you could well be your garage! Most families are guilty of popping things in the garage in case they could be useful in the future – they rarely are! It will be time consuming but it is essential that you check the contents of every box! It is also worth considering at this stage what you will really need for your new home – if you are moving to a flat for example, all your garden equipment will be unnecessary for tending some window boxes. Likewise, if you feel your camping days are over, now is the opportunity to get rid of all your surplus equipment.
Downsizing could earn you money
Once you have ear-marked all the furniture, surplus bed linen, ornaments and equipment, you no longer need, you can decide how best to dispose of it all. Antique and top quality furniture can be successfully sold at auction or by private adverts. Everyday furniture including beds, tables, wardrobes etc as well as home furnishings and decorations are happily bought by people on eBay, Preloved and Gumtree – amongst others. If you prefer, the pieces can be donated to one of your local charities that has a furniture warehouse and importantly, collection can be arranged. A third option is to advertise on your local Freecycle website to find someone who would love to take away your unwanted possessions.
All of these methods are a great way to part with unwanted items the fun way as it is a great way to meet lovely people and there is something rather heart-warming about seeing their delight as they proudly carry away your unwanted paraphernalia! There will be quite a few items that are not of good enough standard to sell or give to charity and these are destined to the local rubbish dump.
Once you have completed all your hard work on downsizing, it will be time to add up the money you have earned and to decide what you need to buy for your new home whilst you raise a glass to happy days ahead…