girl ready for a long distance move
Posted in How-to on November 30, 2021
Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

How to Downsize for a Move to a Smaller Place

The average American household consists of around 300,000 items. If you wish to relocate all of them to a smaller space, it is bound to produce clutter (if that’s not the case already). So it doesn’t happen, learn how to downsize for a move. We will lead you through the whole process – all you have to do is be prepared to part ways with some of the stuff.

There are plenty of reasons to move to a smaller place, so much that it has become somewhat of a trend. Whether we’re talking about finances (rent/mortgage payments and bills), maintenance, or the environmental impact, a tiny place takes a win over a larger one. However, in order to move into one and do it successfully, decluttering must be on your relocation-to-another-state checklist. It doesn’t matter if you’re preparing for movers or a DIY move – purging should be a component of that preparation.

Choose a Method You’ll Use to Purge Everything You Don’t Want or Need

As in any other case, an organization is the key to success. If you want to move efficiently, it is wise to plan a move to another city thoroughly. It means using your organizational skills both for the move as a whole and for any separate relocation tasks. So when wondering how to downsize a home, first put some thought into the organizational method that should be used.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Americans pay more than one trillion dollars per year on goods they don’t even need! When relocating to a smaller place, many unneeded objects won’t make it to the packing list due to decluttering. But what are the most productive techniques of decluttering? Consider:

  • Room by room system – this is an excellent method if you want to avoid running all over the house. Start with basements and garages because most of your clutter will be concentrated in those areas. After you finish with those, progress to other areas.
  • Decluttering by category – famous professional organizer Marie Kondo recommends this technique. If you have things that belong to the same type (clothes, books, papers), it may be easier to decide what to do with them if you tackle them by category.
  • One item a day method – as the name suggests, it means that you decide to get rid of one of your belongings in one day. Of course, this way of decluttering is not a fast one. If speeding up becomes necessary, make some adjustments. For example, look at the date each day and part ways with the same number of belongings.

If necessary, combine them all at the beginning to see what works for you. Do you have a technique of your own that has shown results in the past? Go for it! Staying organized among all of your stuff isn’t easy, especially when there is so much more to be done before the move. Pick a method that will bring you closer to that goal.

Simultaneously, try not to be overwhelmed because you have to part ways with some belongings. The minimalist way of life has plenty of benefits, both for your physical and emotional state. Watch the video below if you want to find out more about it:

Questions to Ask Yourself When Downsizing Before Moving to Another Home

Now that you thought about organizing the decluttering process, it is time to decide what to get rid of. It is a more complicated process than what you’d initially think. The best way to do so is to prepare a specific set of questions. Ask them for each item in your possession – the answer will help you choose what’s worth keeping:

  • How often do you use the item in question? Most objects that have not been used for over a year should be discarded. Soon you’ll be able to see how many things you even forgot you had. It is safe to say that they won’t be missed in the future place.
  • Is it a duplicate? That’s an especially important question when preparing to pack dishes and other kitchen utensils. The average household contains more than one or two sets of glasses, pans, cutlery, and the like. There’s no need to pack them all. Choose the one you like the best and get rid of the rest.
  • What is the expiration date? Check the expiration dates while going through medicine and food cabinets, spices, or packing bathroom items.
  • Is it damaged in some way? Things like chipped plates, torn bedding, or unusable gadgets shouldn’t be part of the packing list. If you haven’t found the time to fix them until now, the chances are you won’t do it in the future, either.
  • Do you know what its purpose is? Don’t laugh, it’s a legitimate question. Remember the box full of cords lying in a corner, collecting dust? Do you even still own the device they are supposed to be connected to?
  • Does it hold sentimental value? Even if they are not used often, things that evoke strong emotions and happy memories are moving essentials.
  • Do you feel compelled to keep it? We all have things we hold on to out of guilt. Remember that piece of art your aunt gave you when she was in her decoupage phase? Getting rid of those kinds of things is easier now that you have a valid excuse.
  • Does the item spark joy in you? Marie Kondo believes that each item in your home should bring joy. So remember that pair of jeans you’ve been trying to get into for several years or gifts from the boyfriend who broke your heart? Out with them!
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Set Clear Rules When Purging Through Different Rooms and Spaces in the House

In order for the decluttering to be successful, you have to be merciless. There should be no maybes when deciding what to keep. Each household item should go to one of the two piles – bring or discard, no exceptions! By being indecisive, you’ll end up having to go through the same things twice, which isn’t efficient in the slightest.

Keep in mind that downsizing won’t only let you have more space in a smaller place but can be one of the ways to save on relocation costs. It is just simple math, really – the more things you decide to get rid of, the less will the move cost in the end. Relocation companies usually charge based on the customer’s inventory.

Ensure Furniture, Appliances, and Similar Items Fit in Your Future Home

The situation may get a little more complicated when relocating furniture and other large things you own. Relocating from a house to an apartment or any other type of smaller place means that some things won’t fit. Some of your furnishing pieces or appliances can’t physically fit through doors or will look piled up and ugly in the new place. How to make an apartment feel like home with such a thorn in your side? Get the measures of the future house (square footage, room sizes and shapes, and the like) and come up with a feasible layout.

Apartment living room decorated after cross-country moving
A large sofa may look good now, but will that be the case in a smaller living room?

Decide on the Next Step Regarding Unwanted Items

So you decluttered and decided what you won’t relocate. Now what? Before getting packing services to help you box up all that’s for keeping, decide what to do with those things that are not. Several options are ahead of you – throw away (recycle), sell, donate, or gift the unwanted stuff. Make a pile for each option and start arranging.

Throwing away is reserved for those things that are broken and unusable. Non-working appliances and electronics, worn-out clothes, and damaged dishes and furniture are some of the things that can be recycled. Remember that non-essential papers (bills, ancient tax records, and the like) can’t be just thrown away after organizing important documents. Shred them to avoid the possibility of identity theft.

Harder decisions come with still usable things. The rule of thumb is to sell the stuff worth that fuss (organizing a garage sale or posting online and searching for buyers) and donate or gift the rest. Put a Zoom meeting with your friends and family on the moving to-do list and offer them things you won’t bring. Gifting to a family member is an excellent solution for stuff with sentimental value that won’t fit in the future house. As for donating, ensure to get familiar with non-profitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, for example, or Goodwill, and do a good deed.

When Is Renting Storage a Necessary Step?

Maybe you’ve noticed that we haven’t put a storing option for discarding. Remember that we said that no maybes are allowed? Well, storage units are usually reserved for those. However, there are cases when using storing options is necessary. When your future place is not ready yet or when you plan on renting a furnished apartment at first, storage units can be life-savers. If you’re not sure that the old furniture would fit, getting storage services can be more than convenient. Do not rule out this possibility, but make sure to keep downsizing.

Know What Things Cross-Country Movers Won’t Move

Do you plan on getting long-distance moving services? If so, remember that there is a list of things that can’t go in the back of the relocation truck. Some of them you might consider necessary and use constantly, but there are official rules and regulations which a cross-country moving company of your choosing must follow. For example, flammable, corrosive, and toxic materials are all items movers won’t move because they pose a potential danger. So when it comes to cleaning products, fireworks, or batteries, ensure to choose the getting rid of pile for them.

Hazardous waste professionals from a long-distance moving company can’t relocate
Which items long-distance movers near me can’t move, you wonder? If you’re not sure, contact them and get a list

More Smart Tips on How to Downsize for a Move

Digitize everything you can

it is a way of downsizing and saving at the same time when moving to another home, and a smaller one at that. Do you still have outdated forms of media such as CDs or, God forbid, VHS tapes? Transferring their content to your computer (or online data storage) will help you eliminate the physical clutter. The same goes for books. Keep physical copies of the most valuable pieces of your music, movie, and book collection, and digitize the rest.

Scan and take pictures to keep the memory

decluttering for a move sometimes means having to part ways with things you hold dear. However, you can still keep them by your side, just not in the same shape. Consider storing photos of furnishing pieces and scanning old tickets or child’s artwork, so they always stay with you.

Do not go on a shopping spree yet

it is best to leave creating a new apartment checklist for the days after the move. Exactly which things you need (and that will fit) won’t be so clear before the relocation. Only after unpacking will you be able to see what else is necessary. And when preparing a shopping list, prepare some creative storage ideas that will help you maximize the space, too.

Let closet hangers assist your decision

it’s an excellent tip for downsizing your wardrobe but demands a little more of your time. Start by placing hangers so that they’re facing away from you. After you wear a certain piece of clothing, put it back so that the hanger is now facing you. Keep doing this for six months – it is the best way to realize how much of your wardrobe you actually wear.

Woman sorting through clothing before cross-distance moving
Did you know that most people use 20% of their clothing 80% of the time?

Count on Memories

Reducing the number of belongings because it is necessary, not because you wish to do it, can be an emotionally challenging task. That is why setting aside some time to reminisce is desirable when organizing a move and making timetables. After all, decluttering will always be a walk down memory lane. Ensure to complete it – it will help you turn a new leaf and enter the next chapter of your life.

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