At some point, that large house or apartment just becomes too much. The next step is clear: you're starting to downsize.
Of course, that's a big decision to make. Downsizing means more than just finding a new property. It means coming to terms with having less space, and understanding exactly what you can (and should) do to still feel at home in the new unit.
It's not impossible — you just need to plan it well. In addition to working with a local REALTOR®, these 9 tips can help you make the process of downsizing less painful so that by the time you move in, you'll be just as comfortable in the new space as you were in the old one.
1) Find the right home for you
It starts with the right space. In the British Columbia Interior region, we're seeing lots of new construction of smaller condo units, while trends like micro-suites and tiny homes are sweeping the continent. Now is the perfect time to start informing yourself about all of these options. You have to know what you want before the planning process can begin.
2) Get an idea of the floor plan
Once you know the direction you want to go in, you can pick the unit. Now is the time to start really informing yourself about the floor plan. Where will you have wall space, windows, and potential lofts? Where can you creatively use the space to make it multi-functional, such as with a pull-out sofa or a pull-up desk? These details will help you both pack and plan for the future.
3) Pick the right furniture
With the floor plan in mind, now is the perfect time to think through the furniture. You can test out which of your current furniture will fit through some simple measurements. But be careful: even if a couch or a bed technically fits, it can overpower the space to make it feel even smaller. You always want some visible floor space in your main living areas. This could also the perfect time to look for some of that multi-functional furniture.
4) Start looking for smart storage solutions
We'll get to uncluttering in a second. But no matter how good you are at purging unneeded items, you will still have some things that you just need to find a space for. That's okay. The key is looking for smart storage solutions that maximize the compact space while still allowing you to keep it uncluttered. Articles like this provide great inspiration as you start looking for the right stuff.
5) Declutter your old home
You've prepared the new space. Now, it's time to take care of the old. This is probably the most difficult step that most homeowners looking to downsize have to face. Uncluttering your old home, whether or not you want to, always involves getting rid of things that you've kept for a while and probably for a reason. One thing that helps is avoiding having to throw anything out. Instead, make a few piles:
The sell pile, for any items that might have some value but you just don't need anymore. It's never a bad idea to give your budget a shot in the arm.
The family pile, full of pieces that have sentimental value but probably don't fit in the new space. This is one to distribute among your various family members.
The donate pile, reserved for perfectly good things that you probably won't sell but also shouldn't throw out. Clothes, furniture, and kitchenware might all fit here.
The garbage pile, which is obvious based on its name. If you do it right, this should be the smallest of the four — which makes the uncluttering process just a bit easier.
6) Avoid the ‘maybe’ pile
You might have noticed one thing missing from the above: the maybe pile. There is a good reason for that. In any true decluttering job, that one simply shouldn't exist. Once you push a decision like what items to keep off to the future, you become much more likely to keep them anyways. You certainly don't want them to move to your new space. Instead, try to make instant decisions where possible — if you don't feel comfortable with that, have someone else there to help you.
7) If you can’t cut loose, consider a storage unit
Even after your best effort, you still might have too much stuff to fit in your new space. While every organizational pro will tell you to avoid this situation, it's just not realistic sometimes. In that case, start looking into a storage unit. Put any of the items that you just cannot separate from there, but make a plan to revisit the unit periodically to potentially declutter it a bit more.
8) Place mirrors strategically
Back to your new home. You'd be surprised how much planning out the wall space actually matters. Yes, they can hold shelves and pictures. But, maybe just as importantly, they can also help you place some mirrors that make every room seem bigger.
Smaller mirrors on walls opposite of sunlight, or larger mirrors above large pieces of furniture, can both significantly enhance the space. You'll make it feel bigger, without increasing the square footage by even an inch.
9) Talk it through with someone
The final piece of advice is simple: find someone to talk to. You're not the first to downsize, and you certainly won't be the last. Among friends and family, you have companions who have gone through the same process and will be glad to share their input.
Of course, you can always talk to your REALTOR® about not just finding the right space, but downsizing in order to move into that space. You'll likely get tips even more valuable than the above. Before you know it, you'll be ready to start your downsized life.