Downsizing, Bigger Is Not Always Better


For seniors downsizing, the kids may have left the nest decades ago, it’s hard to keep up with the yard, and the steps up to the second floor are now a hassle…

It’s time to right-size into a smaller home to improve and broaden your lifestyle.  

But, downsizing your home can be hard! 

We often see our things as irreplaceable because they have fond memories attached to them.  A houseful of “stuff” can be a lifetime of reminiscing strolling from room to room. Our life experiences are so much more than the things we accumulate.  But, how can we figure out how to part with certain things without a sense of loss and work toward reaching downsizing goals?

Where do you start?  Well, we have some tips that may help start the process and give you momentum along the way. 

Set a timeline starting with a move date and work backwards from there.  This date may be a moving target considering your destination or house sale, and that’s ok. 

Keep focused on what is moving with you!  Make sure you’re prioritizing what you want to keep.

Avoid getting bogged down with what to do with everything else.  Don’t worry though, there are quick, streamlined and relatively inexpensive solutions to the “stuff” you are leaving behind. 

Start with a floor plan, it really simplifies a downsize when you have measurements of your new home.  Start with the furniture, considering functionality (storage and display), sentimentality and size. Think about repurposing favorite pieces to use them in a new way.  You’ve decided not to bring your china but love the china cabinet? Change its function to linen storage or pantry.  

Notice the footprint of your furniture.  Real estate in your new space may be at a premium, so think about tall pieces that use the walls for storage and display.

The furniture is the easy part, now it’s time to tackle all the small stuff.  This can be physically & emotionally exhausting so work in 2-4 hour increments with family/friends or a professional downsizer.  Start with sorting like things together.  After doing so, you may realize that there is more duplication than you think and this makes decision making much easier.

During each session you want easy access to 4 boxes or bins to sort accordingly.

  • KEEP: These are the items that bring you joy and will move to your new home. Consider what your new lifestyle will look like? Will you be cooking in the same capacity? Do you need the KitchenAid, the Cuisinart and the blender? When was the last time you actually used the item you are considering.  When deciding on collections, its ok to break it up.  Our clients have found they have a higher appreciation for their collection after paring down a smaller representation of their favorites. 

  • FAMILY: These are the items you wish to pass on to your loved ones. Have the family walk through and put sticky notes with their names of items they would eventually appreciate in their own homes. In addition, fill a box of items that you would really like to offer to family. But understand that they may not want grandma’s china, so honor your loved ones’ decisions if they decide to pass on taking these things.
  • DONATE: These are the items that are still in good condition.  We recommend having a box or bag on each floor that you can consistently toss donations as you go about your day.  (ie.) You just put on and promptly took off the “eh” sweater you’ve never worn…toss is in the bag in the closet! But don’t run yourself ragged running back and forth to donation centers.  Save your energy and consider an estate sale or estate clean out.  Use this process to separate out what is to be packed for your move.   An average estate clean out generates 2 truckloads of donations so 10 runs to Goodwill in your sedan won’t put a dent in that average. 

Clients often consider selling items instead of donating, but this can be far more trouble than it’s worth. Consider consignment for furniture and jewelry.  If you decide to do an estate clean out with professionals, like us, they probably have a long list of trusted resources to sell items on your behalf. 

  • RECYCLE/ SHRED: Get rid of all the extraneous cardboard & paper. We recommend using yard debris bags to contain recycling. When it comes to shredding, instead of going through each and every piece of paper in a folder, remove the documents you need to keep shred the rest professionally by the pound. This is great for peace of mind and is quite inexpensive.  

Build in time between your move and clearing out your house.  This will relieve a lot of the stress in making final decisions on what you will keep.  You may settle into your new home and realize you actually have the perfect spot for your corner curio.  This is also a good time for family to plan to pick up what they really want. 

We recommend 2 solutions for the final clear out of your house, both reach your final goal…an empty house to put your biggest asset on the market!


ESTATE SALE: There are positives and negatives to an estate sale. 

The positives are pretty obvious.  Estate sales do not cost homeowners anything out-of-pocket and they make 50-60% of gross sales.  Also, most companies include the final clean out in the sale. 

The negatives are things you may not have thought about.  First, you must qualify for an estate sale with a minimum of $8000 of perceived market value in the estate.  Second, if you are dealing with a reputable company, a sale has to be scheduled months in advance.  Also, from start to finish, an estate sale takes an average of 10 days to 2 weeks, which may take away from the real estate time line.  In addition, if the sale was successful, you probably had 100’s of people shopping around your house which can cause wear and tear. 

We recommend that you interview up to 3 estate sale companies and feel good about the level of trust your are putting into a respected organization. 

ESTATE CLEAN OUT: Estate Clean-Outs have their perks and drawbacks as well.  This is a great way to clear out your home quickly.  You can usually schedule an estate clean out within 2 weeks and they are completed within 2 days.  The remaining contents of the house is sorted into donations, recycling, garbage and chemicals and designated trucks deliver to ReStore, Teen Challenge, Community Warehouse, ECR and the transfer station.  Unfortunately estate buy-outs have gone by the wayside, so estate clean outs do have a cost attached to them. 

When a downsize has been accomplished by our clients, they are often surprised a much less time it took than they thought.  That happens when you keep your focus on building the contents of your new home.  If you are looking for a professional to assist you, we recommend the following search terms: Downsizing, professional organizer, move manager, and also search on the NASMM website.  If you have questions you can always call our office to arrange a free consult. or 503-780-7136.

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