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Downsizing to a smaller home is a bigger step than most people think. The benefits are also often overlooked. It’s more economical, easier to clean, and homier. 

Parents who become empty-nesters are big on downsizing. People also downsize due to divorce, lowered income, or because they have to move for various reasons. Thankfully, only 9% of people who downsize regret it. 

Whatever the case, downsizing will bring about drastic changes. Some are inherently good – like getting a fresh start. Others are not as great. Avoid downsizing challenges with these tips.

 1. Establish the right mindset. 

You may want to find someone you trust who is a good listener to open up to about moving. The act of packing can draw a lot of memories that might be difficult to dwell on.

Having to let go of certain items may also take a toll on you. However, you shouldn’t see it as a loss, nor should you feel too connected to things (family heirlooms are an exception). 

Instead of looking back with regret, focus on where you want to see yourself in the future and how the items you decide to keep will fit into that bright, new plan. 

The right mindset also means planning ahead. Make sure you hire a reliable moving company and schedule ahead of time so you’re not left with the headache of doing things on your own when you want to move.

2. Take pictures of your old home. 

Taking pictures of your old home is great for three things when it comes to downsizing. First, you get to look back at the space where memories were made and know that you will always have a piece of those items you eventually throw away. 

Second, pictures help you decide what items you absolutely want to keep that you were previously going to toss. If your eyes go quickly to certain items in a photograph, it probably means you shouldn’t let them go.

Third, you can use the design and arrangements from your old home to get an idea of how to do the new one. Your new home will, of course, be different, but it will still be you. 

3. Pare down items and only keep your favorites.

Expand the idea of downsizing to all aspects of your new home. You probably do not need several spatulas in the kitchen, and the “good” grater likely does the job each time. Throw away the rest of each item. 

Similarly, it might not be the best idea to carry over entire collections. If you’ve received tons of wine over the years, feel free to keep your favorite bottles and sell off or give away the rest. 

4. Examine your new home with care. 

This might be obvious, but it’s tempting to just pick up your favorite large pieces of furniture and pray that they will fit into a smaller home. Instead of doing that, be more precise. 

Get the measurements for each room of your new home and know beforehand what will and won’t fit. That way, you’ll avoid the headache of struggling to fit something in and possibly having to let it go last minute.

5. Discuss items of value with family. 

If you’ve lived in your home for a long time, chances are your relatives are attached to certain items of sentimental value. Their feelings will make it easier to decide what to keep and what to toss. 

6. Keep, Toss, and Donate — and Start Early. 

Again, your family needs to be part of this process. You may want to go as far as having them go through their old high school memorabilia and decide what they want to hold on to.

Each day, you can set apart some time (about 30 minutes) to clear out a small area of your home. You only need three boxes — labeled “keep,” “toss,” and “donate,” to get the ball rolling. 

Remember to keep your mind open to alternatives for certain items. You can digitize photos and scan receipts you may need. Be strict but forgiving when it comes to what you throw out. 

7. Get Help From Friends 

Friends can help you both physically and by giving advice. That old attic that’s filled with junk is not a one-man job. Ask anyone if they’re willing to pitch in, keeping in mind any allergies and being mindful of heavy loads. 

Speaking to persons who have already downsized is a huge help. They can fill you in on what to expect and motivate you about the wonderful realities that come with a smaller space. If you’re not acquainted with anyone who has downsized, reach out to an experienced company for help. 

8. Stop ordering and acquiring things. 

Now is the time to stop any impulsive shopping. Change the way you look at acquiring things. More items typically means more clutter. In a newly-downsized home (or any home), clutter is the last thing you want. 

A useful rule is to get rid of one thing every time you buy something new. This will keep your home clean and organized and will leave you with no regrets about downsizing.


The most important thing to consider when downsizing is the reduced space. While you might have grown into your clutter over the years, you will inevitably appreciate the clarity of a cleaner environment. 

Once you’ve properly prepared to downsize, everything else should be a breeze. After moving, make sure to celebrate in any way you can. Treat yourself, call a friend, or have family over. It’s time for a new journey.