Downsizing Your Home

cottageIf you are considering downsizing your home, you probably have many questions.  It’s a daunting task, but with thought and preparation it can be a very liberating experience.


When is downsizing a good idea? What’s the best way to decide what to take with you? What to get rid of? What do you do with it all?

 When and Why?

Downsizing to a smaller home is not just for retirees, although this typically is when you would expect to do just that. Families with children in college might consider downsizing during this transitional time to becoming empty nesters, as students spend less time at home.  However, most importantly homeowners should consider downsizing to save money,  not only on the mortgage but on utility costs too.  Other benefits to downsizing is organizing your home and making it easier to clean.  Cluttered homes are difficult to clean thoroughly, as we tend to clean around items.  Downsizing while you are still able to take on the moving task should be an important consideration, waiting until your home becomes too difficult to manage will only add stress.


What stays, what goes?  

Three questions to ask yourself:  Do I Need It? – Do I Love It? – Can I Live Without It?  Choosing what to take can be difficult.  Items passed on to us by family loved ones are difficult to part with as they have a sentimental attachment.  Decide if it’s an item that you just cannot part with and if so incorporate the piece into your new furnishings in pride of place. Start with the furniture you will need to furnish your smaller home.  Include items you absolutely love (like your favorite arm-chair).  The next step is to choose from items you need but have multiples of, such as linens, tableware, kitchen utensils.  Choose your favorites, must haves and items in the best condition.


With items of value, such as antiques or collectibles, decide if you want to take them, sell or gift them.  Ask yourself if your children would make the effort to realize the full value of your heirlooms or just put them in a garage sale, if it were up to them?  Once you have decided what’s up for grabs, ask your kids if there any items that they would like to have.  You might be surprised with the sentimental attachments they may have to certain items.  With the items that are left decide between selling, consigning or donating them.  Work your way from room to room to sort your remaining possessions.  It takes time, take it slowly and do not be rushed.


How do I dispose of unwanted items?

Estate Sales & Garage Sales

A moving sale is a great way to get rid of tools, sporting equipment, garden equipment, outdoor furniture, baby related items and toys.

Estate Sales

If you are selling most of your furniture and furnishings, consider holding an estate sale.  You can use the services of professionals who will help you to display your items in situ (in your home), advertise the sale and host the sale on your behalf, for a commission or fee.

Garage Sales

See the  separate garage sale tip sheet.


If you have items to give away check your local listings for thrift stores and organizations that rely on donated items, such as Goodwill, VVA, Big Brothers – Big Sisters, Humane Society and the Salvation Army.  Find out if they will pick up donations from your home.  Ask for a receipt in order for you to claim your donations against your taxes.

There are a few items that are difficult to shift, like old TV’s, mattresses and box springs. Best Buy has a recycling program for TV’s.  Some thrift stores will accept clean, non torn or stained mattresses and box springs, call them to check.  There are some mattress recycling projects out there, it’s a matter or researching, unless you live in Connecticut as they have become the first in the nation to pass a mattress stewardship law that has established an industry-led recycling council.


If your town offers a bulk curbside pickup for such items, you are fortunate. Call them to find out when you can place your items for pick up.  Junk haulage companies operate in every state.  Search the Internet for business operating in your area.

What’s Next?

As you work your way through this process start packing items into moving boxes.  This will help to depersonalize your home and declutter, in preparation for listing your home for sale.  Potential buyers will be looking in all your cupboards and closets, you want them to appear spacious and uncluttered.  This new scaled back appearance of your home will make for easy cleaning and staging when a potential buyer is scheduled to tour your home.


This painful, time-consuming project has many rewards.  You will simplify your life, organize your home, make some extra cash, sell your home faster, help local charities, pass on your heirlooms, reduce your moving costs, eliminate storage unit costs, reduce your utility bills, reduce your homeowners insurance premiums, improve your health and reduce your stress levels.


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