three tiny houses with a bike leaning against one; there's a tree stretching over the skyline and a few clouds in the sky

Whether you’re an empty-nester, looking to save money on housing, or just hoping to minimize your life a little, the process of downsizing can be overwhelming. Check out these five tips for helping you to plan and prepare for a move into a smaller living space.

#1 Decide What You MUST Keep

Have an 8-seat dining room set that’s a family heirloom? You probably won’t be able to squeeze it into a shared living-dining-kitchen space without giving up that big sofa and TV. If you like a more minimalist approach to home design, you’ll have to get rid of more stuff than if you like a crowded cottage feel. Starting with big items like furniture, make a list of what things are important for you to keep, and use that to guide your decisions.

#2 Don’t Be (Too) Sentimental

Downsizing can be hard even when it’s what you want to do. If after step 1 your MUST keep list is worrying, ask a friend or family member to help you make the hard decisions. If you love cooking but only have people over for dinner once a year, maybe you don’t actually need two full sets of dishes!

#3 Think About Multipurpose Spaces

Some of these decisions may be easy: if you don’t have guests over a lot, you may be just fine with an eat-in kitchen, or swapping out your big sectional for a loveseat. When those choices are more of a struggle, consider how you can make spaces serve multiple purposes. Want a space for the kids to stay when they come home to visit? Consider installing a murphy bed in your guest room and use that space as an office or studio most of the year.

#4 Start Rehoming Things Early

You know how when you’re moving suddenly it feels like there’s SO much more stuff than you thought? Imagine transitioning from a 3 bedroom to a 1 bedroom! In many cases, you may have possessions that are in great condition, so taking the time to plan can give you time to sell, donate, or give away those items rather than dealing with the expense and hassle of throwing a bunch of stuff away. (Protip: if you have adult children, check in with them to see if there are things that they might want!)

#5 Consider a Storage Unit For the Short Term

If you can afford it, keeping a storage unit for a year with your “maybe” items can be a great way to remind yourself of what you do and don’t need. If those boxes of SCUBA equipment that you moved from house to house stay in the storage unit for a year without you giving them a passing thought, that may be the sign that it’s time to part ways with them.

Moving from a larger home into a smaller home has challenges, but it also results in less “mess” in your life, a lower environmental footprint—and less space to clean!

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