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Simplifying Your Downsizing and Move – Five Easy Steps

By Mary Holmes

As I have said so many times before, starting the process of moving to a smaller home can be quite overwhelming. Most people are unsure where to begin, so therefore, they put it off as long as possible. Read on to learn about some easy steps to take in order to help you get going and reduce the stress of your transition.

What Do I Bring?

If you have already identified where you are moving, your first step should be to determine what furniture will fit in your new home. It is best if you can get a to-scale floor plan for the new space so you can determine what may work. If you are moving to a retirement community,

most have pre-printed floor plans of each type of unit they offer. One of the most important things to remember if you plan to undertake this step yourself is that you should be careful to ensure good traffic flow and the ability to open closets, drawers, cabinets, etc. There is a tendency to draw in as much furniture as possible without thinking through how much space you will need to get out of bed or open the closet. By doing this, you are potentially creating an unsafe environment (not to mention a cluttered, unattractive space).

You will also want to go through kitchen items, clothing, books, and nick knacks – making sure you don’t take more than will fit in your new home. You should keep reminding yourself that the more you move, the more it will cost to move it.

How Do I Downsize?

Downsizing has become a very popular word lately. It seems every one of all ages is talking about how they need to downsize (or declutter) – whether they are moving or not. It is human nature to acquire more items than we use or need over the years. We buy new items, inherit from family, and receive gifts. On the other hand, we are not very good at taking things out of our house – even if we have many duplicates of an item or haven’t used something in years. There are many reasons this happens, some are psychologically based and others are related to priorities and time constraints.

If you already know where you are going and have worked through step one above, you know which possessions you will need to find a new home for. If you are unsure where you will move to (so aren’t 100% sure how much space you will have), you can still get going on this step. Start with your homes extremities, e.g. attics, basements, garages, and other storage areas, including closets. Make some tough decisions on items you haven’t used in a while, that you don’t really like, that you have multiples of the same item, or that you know won’t fit in a smaller home.

What Do I Do With the Items I’m Not Taking?

First, start by determine if any of your family or friends want your downsized items. Of course, this is one of the best options since you know your possessions will have a good second home and you may even see them from time to time! I would caution you not to be disappointed if friends and family aren’t as interested as you hoped they would be. Also, if your family or friends don’t live in the area, shipping arrangements need to be made and it may be costly. The next step is to determine if you have anything of value. If you feel you have items of significant value, you should research dealers and collectors in your area. For other items of moderate value, you have the option of using an auctioneer, consigning at a local shop, have an estate/tag sale, or using an online service such as eBay or Craigslist.

If you have other possessions that don’t have a lot of value (or if you are philanthropic or don’t want to deal with the hassle of finding buyers for your items), your next option is to donate your items to a local charity. There are most likely many options in your area, some will be pickier about what they take than others.

Lastly, as part of this step – you will most likely be taking some trips to a recycling and trash facility (even if you are lucky enough to have curbside pickup – you may have bulky items or an abundance of items that may not work well with curbside).

How Do I Prepare for Move Day?

Once you have an idea of when you will be moving, there are many steps to take to make sure you are prepared. Here is a short list to get you going:

  1. Research and interview movers in your area. You will want to get multiple quotes once you have an idea of when you are moving (this should include items that need to be shipped to friends or relatives). The key here is to ensure the quotes are apples to apples when you are comparing them. One may have more insurance than another, forget to include something you requested, etc.

  2. Start packing. You can start this early by packing items that you won’t need before your move date. You can pack often-used items in your kitchen and bathrooms last. If you are packing yourself, ensure you buy high quality packings supplies, e.g. boxes, tape, packing paper. Although you may want to save money, it will be very disappointing if important items get broken (and more costly too!). Also, make sure you mark your boxes clearly with destination room and content.

  3. Call your utilities (new and old). The goal is to ensure that your move feels seamless. For example: check what you need to do to turn off your cable/internet at your current home and what you will need to do for cable/internet in your new home; determine if you can keep your same telephone number and what needs to be done; call heat, hot water, sewer, electricity vendors to let them know you are moving.

  4. Change your address. You should go to the post office and fill out a change of address card. Also, start changing your address on bank/investment statements, cell phone carrier, magazine subscriptions, and other mail you would like to continue to receive.

  5. If you are moving to a retirement community, call them to let them know your move-in date and to find out if there are any rules about move day, e.g. when you can use elevators, where the moving truck can park, if there are time restrictions on move in times, etc.

How Do I Quickly Settle In?

Once you arrive at your new home, you will most likely have a lot of unpacking to do. Although you may feel tired and not have the energy to start the next step of the process – it may be a safety issue if you are surrounded by boxes and other items. It will also be very frustrating if you can’t find what you need for an extended period of time. If you followed the step above that suggested marking your boxes clearly – you will have a better idea of where to start this part of the process. By unpacking the kitchen, putting together your bed and making it and knowing where your bathroom essentials are (including medication), you can avoid a lot of frustration and stress. Most movers will allow you to move your dresser drawers without removing their content and hanging clothes stay on their hangers in special boxes – so it should be easy to complete your bedroom. Having a designated closet for boxes and artwork that you won’t get to right away will make you feel more settled and will avoid safety and tripping issues.

If you have questions or need help with your move or downsizing, please Contact Us.

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