Living in a big home is perfect if you have a family and enjoy a lot of space. However, if your kids are all grown up and have left the nest, maybe moving to a smaller home is a good idea. Not to mention maintenance and upkeep are much cheaper. But what to do with all your belongings? Before the move you will have to solve this problem otherwise you will end up in a cramped home. Here are a few tips on how best to downsize and declutter your household. It might sound like a daunting task, but you will realize it is quite liberating once you begin.
Take an inventory of your belongings
Before packing, you need to know what you actually have. So firstly, take some time to make an inventory of everything you own. Go from room to room and make a note of items you do not need because, with fewer things to pack, you will minimize the stress of a home move. Usually, the kitchen is the most critical space as it has most items we rarely use. Once you start going through all the shelves and drawers, you will notice you have a lot of utensils, pots, and pans you have never used. Do not get surprised if you find items you do not even remember buying. The same goes for the rest of the home too. If you lived there for a long time, most definitely you have accumulated a lot of things. Thus, as you work, keep in mind that you should only bring what you really need.
Sort through everything
The best way to stay organized throughout the decluttering process is to follow the rule of four boxes – “Throw-away”, “Donate”, “Keep,” and “Store”. Do not just throw it all into one pile because it will get mixed up, and you will be back at the beginning. Once you begin sorting through it all, you will get shocked at how much stuff you own. So in a way, it is pretty freeing getting rid of some of it. Therefore, put into throw-away boxes everything too old, damaged or broken. If some items are still in ok condition but you do not need them, donate them to a charitable organization.
Secondly, always label the boxes that you are moving to a smaller home with you. Do it as soon as you seal them, so you do not forget what is inside. Lastly, you can put into storage the items that have sentimental value or you are not sure about.
Do not store your possessions in a garage
If your new home has a garage, you might think it is a great spot to store your belongings. Sure, you will save a ton of space, keep most of your items and not waste money on a storage unit. However, a garage is never a good idea because of security reasons. It is usually built separately from your home. Thus, it is a perfect target for criminals. One of the reasons for this is because you open your garage doors often to enter, so anybody on the street can see that it is full of stuff. Even with a security system and cameras, you should not risk it. Also, they do not have adequate insulation, so your belongings will be exposed to outside conditions. If you store sensitive items made from wood or paper, they will get damaged in no time. For these, climate-controlled units are preferable as you can control the conditions inside. Storage prices vary but you can compare prices here.
Digitize your documents
Once you start sorting through everything, you will notice that you have a ton of papers, from insurances, kids’ school reports, and wills to mortgage documents. All of them take a lot of space. One way to get rid of them is to scan them and transfer them on a portable hard drive or a USB stick. Also, when you transfer utilities before the move, go through all the bills and throw away what you do not need.
You can digitize all your photos and home videos on CDs, DVDs, and old VHS tapes. There is no reason to keep them in a physical form as they get old and unusable fast. Even if you are not relocating, it is a good idea to do this, so that after some time you do not lose all the beautiful memories.
Measure all the furniture
Moving to a smaller home means that majority of your furniture will not fit inside. Likewise, if you are moving into an apartment, they might be too big to go through all the corridors and doors. Hence, you will need to measure your new place or get the floor plan with all the dimensions. Next, measure all your furniture and get rid of everything that will take too much space. You can store them for future use and buy new ones. Also, you can get multifunctional furniture that has built-in storage space, like a bed with drawers underneath.
Do not hesitate to ask for help
If you have a lot of things, you might feel overwhelmed before you even touch anything. So ask your family and friends to help you because tedious work will turn into a fun one with the much-needed support and assistance. Also, when moving to a smaller home, it will take a while to properly go through everything, so make sure you give yourself enough time. Do not leave it for the last few days because you will rush to get it all done and make mistakes. If you are too busy, one drawer a day for 10 minutes is enough. Slow and steady wins the race.