Downsizing your home can be a big process. And, less and less people seem to be doing it these days.
The average home size in 1950 was less than 1,000 square feet. Fast forward to 2013, the average home size has increased to nearly 2,600 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
We were fairly close to this size when we owned a house. The house we owned in the St. Louis, Missouri area was around 2,500 square feet if you included our finished basement, and it was just for myself, my husband, and our two dogs. Our home in Colorado was almost as big, at slightly over 2,000 square feet (with no basement).
More and more people seem to be purchasing large homes, but that’s not the case for us. We sold our home last year and moved into an RV.
We made this decision for many reasons, but the main reason was that traveling nearly full-time added to the stress of owning a home. So, we figured why not just take it a step further and actually travel full-time?
So, we did it. We went through all of our possessions, stored certain belongings that we couldn’t part with (we have a VERY small storage unit, the size of a closet, filled mainly with hundreds of photo albums that my dad left me after he passed away, family paintings, childhood mementos, etc.), and moved into our RV.
It wasn’t the easiest task on earth, and really we dreaded all of the work that had to be done. However, we knew it was well worth it to live the life we wanted.
And, it was! We are so glad that we decided to downsize our home. We haven’t regretted the decision one bit, and now we are happier than ever.
There are many other reasons for downsizing your home:
- To save money. A bigger home can cost more in some cases due to higher utility bills, more clutter being bought, higher insurance, more maintenance and repairs needed, higher purchasing price, etc.
- To have less clutter. The bigger your home, the more likely you’ll have empty rooms that you feel the need to put stuff in. Now that we live in an RV, we are much more mindful of what we buy. We think about every purchase in terms of weight, size, where we can store it, and more.
- To spend less time on maintenance and repairs. If all other factors between two homes are the same (age, location, etc.), a bigger home is more likely to take up more of your time due to more things breaking.
- To spend less time cleaning. A larger home is going to take a lot more time to clean than a smaller one.
Whatever your reason may be for downsizing your home, here are my tips. Of course, certain downsizes may be easier than others, but overall the tips below can help you sort through your items.
Tips for downsizing your home:
Make a plan for downsizing your home.
Downsizing your home can seem like an easy task to some, but in reality it is not. There are many things that go into downsizing your home, such as:
- The layout and amount of space in your new home.
- The time you have to downsize your home can impact your sorting process, stress, etc.
- How you will donate, sell, or throw away items to get rid of.
- How and what you determine to keep, donate, or throw away.
What do you think you just cannot get rid of?
To start off, you should make a list of all the items you believe you just cannot part with. Your list may start out long, but it will help you decide what items you don’t need and should get rid of.
What can you easily get rid of?
If you have the time, then you may want to start getting rid of things that you know you don’t need as soon as you can. By doing this, you can clear a lot of clutter and it will also help you realize that you may not need other items you once thought you needed.
Usually getting rid of the first few items is the hardest. After that, it gets easier to downsize your home!
Think about why you want to keep certain items.
Many people have a hard time parting with things for reasons such as:
- How much money they spent on it
- The length of time that they’ve held onto it
- The potential for future use
If you just don’t have the room in your new home, you should really dig deep and figure out why you believe you need to keep so many items. Talk about your reasoning with your family or out loud to fully grasp it. Doing so may help you realize how ridiculous your logic may be.
Sometimes, you may laugh at your reasoning, and this may help you get rid of an item more easily.
Find ways to store documents digitally.
For me, I just couldn’t bring myself to store my dad’s photo albums digitally, even though numerous people have told me to scan them and throw them away. The memory is in the actual photo albums as well as the photos, as my dad loved photography and we would often put the photo albums together as a fun project.
However, there are many other non sentimental things that you can store digitally. This includes tax information, receipts, paper documents, and so on.
The average person has thousands of papers that they store!
Paper is a big reason for clutter, and so many people keep items that they don’t need. Go through your documents and start either digitally storing them or recycling them.
We kept just one binder of papers and scanned the rest. It was very easy to do, and getting rid of all of that paper felt amazing.
Give yourself time.
Going through your whole house and downsizing your home in one day would be quite difficult and stressful. Instead, you should give yourself time to really think about what you do and don’t need.
This means that you may want to take a few days, weeks, or even months to go through your home.
Start off room by room and see what you can get rid of. Then, when you are done doing that, go through everything again and again until you are down to the amount of items you need to have. By doing this process, you will clearly see what you need and do not need, because you will be able to see how much you have, evaluate items more clearly, apply past reasoning to other items you think you can’t get rid of, and so on.
Create a donation list.
Donating items makes getting rid of things and downsizing your home a little easier. By knowing that your items will be better used by someone who actually needs them, you are giving your stuff new life! If you have a large amount to donate, many donation centers will even come to your home, which can make getting rid of items a breeze.
Plus, you’ll feel great about it.
Related: 58 Random Acts Of Kindness
Think about when the last time was that you used an item.
Many people keep items that they hardly use or have never used, yet keep and store them anyways.
If you want to start downsizing your home, you should think about the last time you used a specific item.
For me, this is a big reason for why it was so easy to get rid of so many things. I just sat down, created a list, and thought about the last time I used a certain item. For many things, it seemed like years had passed since I had actually used that item. For some things, I knew I didn’t actually need to use them when I thought I did.
So, you should do the same. Think about when you last used an item, if you will ever use it in the future, if you’re better off just renting or borrowing something you occasionally use, and so on.
Related: How To Live On One Income
Get rid of the “maybes.”
If you have no space for items in your new home, but you still have a huge pile of things that you want to take with you, you may want to think about just completely getting rid of your “maybe” pile.
After all, these are “maybes” and you probably don’t want them as badly as you think! This can make downsizing your home much easier in one swoop of a decision.
Related tip: Are you looking to downsize? I recommend checking out the course Downsizing for Tiny Life. This course gives you the step by step process for downsizing to move into a smaller space. This course will help you identify what to get rid of, change your mindset about your stuff, help you sell your stuff, and more.
Carefully evaluate future purchases.
So that you are less likely to have as much clutter in the future, you should evaluate future items before you buy them.
You should think long and hard about whether you truly need something, whether you should buy, borrow, or rent it if you won’t need it in the future, and think about where the item will be stored in your home.
We do this now that we live in an RV. We think about every purchase in terms of weight, size, where we can store it, and more. This has helped prevent us from buying many items because we know it’s not realistic to bring everything into an RV.
How big is your home? Is downsizing your home something you are interested in?