Whether you are moving into a travel trailer or RV like us, into a smaller condo, or just want to take back your space, there are four important downsizing tips you want to know.
In the past six years, we have had varying size homes. When we first met, we both had one bedroom. Kendall rented a room and I had a room at my Mom’s while going to school. We then upgraded to an 1100 square foot condo.
Almost four years ago, we went even bigger and had a 1300 square foot townhouse, plus a full basement, plus a garage. The townhouse had three bedrooms (one of which was entirely empty). For us, this was way too much space.
Currently, we live in a 635 square foot condo. In just over three months, we will be downsizing into a 274 square foot travel trailer. Check out pictures of our new home here. For the last several months, we (Jennifer) have been downsizing our condo to prepare for the new space. With our experience of downsizing, here are some tips to make your journey easier.
Tips for Downsizing
Take your time
When you are starting the process of downsizing it is very important to take your time. The process is going to take way longer than you think it will. Also, you need time to process the emotional side of downsizing, sell or donate items, and time to go through everything.
When my Mom downsized from a five bedroom house (called the ‘Big House’ by all of us) into a tiny townhouse, she purged for over a year! It took her almost two years to go through all the rooms, storage spaces, cupboards, garage, and shelves.
Downsizing from a a large space into a small one is not something you should – or want to – do overnight.
For us, going from 635 to 274, we will have purged for about six months. This might be a little longer than you need for the square footage, however, going into the next tips you will learn why I am taking this long.
Don’t pull everything out at once
This step might be contradictory to the advice by Marie Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but it has saved me from a lot of anxiety and panic attacks.
My recommendation is to purge and downsize in “layers” or “rounds”. For example, go through your closet and pick out the obvious pieces that you never wear. Donate or sell these items. Then go through and pull pieces that don’t fit or have tags on them. Then go through and pull everything out and apply Marie’s technique and ask “Does this bring me joy?”.
For the last several months, I continue to pick away at downsizing in small manageable steps. I imagine it as the draft for sports but the opposite. The things I really don’t need or want get tossed first, then I just keep working my way up the draft levels.
By not pulling everything out all at once, you minimize the overwhelming panic of having a giant, seemingly insurmountable task.
It will get worse before it gets better
Downsizing and the inevitable mountains of items you pull from your closets, can be extremely (extremely) overwhelming. It will absolutely get worse before it gets better.
Even if you don’t pull everything out at once, you will almost always have a pile of things cluttering your space or things pulled out for you to go through.
You will be riding the high of purging a room and then look behind you and see a huge stack of things. Panic will set in. Let me tell you, it will get better. But the piles of things will make it seem worse.
I would absolutely recommend having a plan in place for where items for donation will be going. Do not wait until you have a teetering tower of items and then find out that you do not have somewhere to donate to.
In order to keep things from getting too overwhelming, be ready to purge and organize and then take those items out of your space.
For us, we have three piles: garbage, donate/giveaway, and sell.
Items that are being tossed in the garage are taken to the garbage room regularly. By regularly, I mean hourly or daily depending on what level of purge I am doing.
Items that are being given away are taken to the garbage room and placed in a separate area. Our condo has an unofficial area where people can leave stuff for someone else to pick up.
For items that are being truly donated such as clothing or bedding, they are all placed in a tote or bag and set aside. When the container gets filled, I take all the items to whichever donation centre I have chosen.
Donate items that aren’t going to be taken immediately should be stored somewhere out of sight but also where they are easily accessible to donate. I recommend the trunk of your car. Then when you are already out and about, it is easy to make a quick pit stop and drop off your donations.
Selling items can be good and bad. Obviously getting some extra money for items you have in your home is good. However, the time and effort spent selling items can be more grief than it’s worth. There are some considerations that you may need to make when selling items.
- Consider the value of your time.
This will entirely depend on the individual and what amount of effort you are willing to put in to make a sale. For me, if I am only going to get $5 or less for an item, I will probably donate it. I try to only put effort into larger ticket items.
- Consider how long you are willing to have pending sale items in your home.
Typically when I put something up for sale on an online market platform, I only hold onto the item for one week. Unless it is a bigger ticket item, which I may hold onto for longer if I can leave the item in it’s home and it is out of the way.
If an item is listed and does not sell within that allotted time frame, reconsider the price – it might be too high (or too low).
- Consider your market platform and your customer interactions
The last consideration for when selling items is considering your market platform (e.g. Facebook, VarageSale, Kijiji, Craiglist) and how much customer interaction you are willing to do.
For me, when I am selling something, I make sure my ad specifically states things like: “no holds”, “first come first serve”, “price firm”, and where I am located. People will ALWAYS ask questions posted in the ad though.
If I know an item is going to be extra annoying to sell – for example clothing (people want to try it on) – or I will get really low offers – for example “Will you take $3 instead of $5 and will you deliver?” – then I will likely opt out of selling it and will put the item in the donate bin.