As renting becomes a more attractive and affordable alternative, homeownership in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest point in nearly 20 years – just under 65 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As more and more people start moving to cities, downsizing is increasingly common. And who can blame us? A weekend of hitting the town beats a weekend of cleaning your gutters. But it’s much easier said than done. Getting rid of all that extra stuff is a little bit like exercise: it’s painful at the time but it always leaves you feeling lighter.
Make a purge/clean out schedule
Start by making a schedule of the major areas you’ll need to downsize. These would be spaces like your closet, your kitchen, or the craft room. What room or storage area will be easiest to tackle? Think about the most logical sequence as well. You might want to start with the basement or attic.
Track what you use
Tracking what you actually use is a smart way to figure out what needs to go when you downsize. In your closet, try turning all of your hangers backward on the bar. Each time you wear something, hang it back up with the hanger facing forward. At the end of a year, anything that’s still hanging backward goes in the donation box.
This doesn’t just work in your closet, though. Try putting kitchen utensils and craft supplies in a box or a cabinet. After six months or so, you might be surprised at what’s still sitting there unused. Throw them into the donation box as well.
As for the things you love, use them! You’ll appreciate them more and you won’t have to find space in your new apartment to store them until that special occasion. If they’re truly fragile family heirlooms, see if there’s a relative with more storage space who could care for them.
Measure your furniture and your new space in advance
Measure your new space and note any changes in the layout from your current home. Then measure your furniture. Will it all fit in to your new rooms? Even if your new space isn’t much smaller, if the layout is different you may need to get rid of some things.
Assess your actual needs and make a list
Try asking yourself a simple question: if all of this was gone, what would I replace? Write up a list of the basics you know you’ll have to have like a coffee-maker or a couch. Some other questions to ask yourself:
Unless they’re broken or in really bad shape, chances are someone can use all that extra stuff you’re getting rid of. If you have time, try selling designer clothes or antiques on eBay. Craigslist is another place to sell or give away furniture you don’t need. If you don’t want to mess with posting photos of your items, you could also donate them to Goodwill or a local charitable thrift store. Don’t forget to ask friends and family if they need the things you’re discarding. Having a garage sale or estate sale is another way to get rid of extra stuff and make money off it at the same time.
Unless your downsize is temporary, sell or give away the outdoor tools and appliances you won’t need in your new apartment. Things like lawnmowers, leaf blowers and rakes won’t be necessary now that you don’t have to spend your weekends doing yard work.
When it comes to things that may have sentimental value but won’t fit in the new apartment, you’ve got a couple of different options. The obvious one would be to rent a self-storage space.
If you’re on the fence about whether to get rid of something, don’t forget about family and friends. Maybe your nephew needs that coffee table in his new apartment or your sister-in-law entertains enough to put that crystal punch bowl to good use? When it comes to large items that have sentimental value, you may be able to find a family member willing to take over custody for a while. This will make it easier to give it away if you don’t miss it. If you do, you’ve got your answer.
Even though you’re busy mapping out the logistics of your move, don’t forget the affect that this will have on your children. Try to make moving sound like a fun adventure, despite how stressful it may actually be. Kids will become excited when they start learning about their new community, the on-site playground and the swimming pool they’ll have at their disposal. Don’t forget to help them bridge the gap between their old and new life. For younger kids, let them exchange phone numbers or even email addresses before move day. If they’re old enough and you deem it appropriate, they can keep in touch with neighborhood friends via social media, Skype or FaceTime.
A simpler life awaits you
While living in a house, you probably felt the need to fill every corner with stuff. Yes, those Saturday trips to The Home Depot and Ikea are pretty addictive. But soon, those things you accumulated became overwhelming, didn’t they? If you've ever seen "Fight Club", you know it's true that the stuff you own ends up owning you. All that clutter probably made owning a home more stressful than it was worth. In an apartment, you’ll be able to finally scale back, focus on what’s necessary and not just buy random pretty things just to fill an empty space.
Less work, more play
Remember those weekends spent mowing the lawn, pulling weeds and pressure washing your siding? Those chores are a thing of the past when you choose apartment life. Fewer household chores will free up more time to do the things you really love whether it’s spending time with family and friends, exploring your city, or getting some much needed shut eye.
Turn that frown upside down
Always focus on the bright side. A smaller space will mean less to clean and maintain. You’ll hopefully rid yourself of all the stuff you just don’t need. And obviously you’ll save money on rent and utilities. Downsizing is an opportunity to start over.