At the end of this month, I will be turning 60. My husband and I have decided to move closer to our grandchildren. It’s not a long distance move by any means (only 40 minutes away) but we are moving into a decidedly smaller house. We’re going from a two story, four-bedroom bungalow to a small one-story ranch. We have been in our present home for 33 years. The amount of crap I have accumulated is astounding! Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful when downsizing.
Make sure to give yourself plenty of time. You can’t decide “I’m moving next month!” and not lose your mind. We gave ourselves the better part of a year to declutter and get the house ready to put on the market. We both work long hours and attend many grandchildren activities, so spare time is at a premium.
Here’s your golden rule: “Have I used this item in the last year?” If not, it’s gone. I found clothing in a closet that I don’t remember buying or ever wearing. I’m one of those people that thinks “Well, I’ll keep it because you ‘never know’!” Don’t! Be ruthless. Another tip: only have a yes or no pile; there is no maybe. Purge duplicate items; the kitchen is notorious for these. How many spatulas do you use at a time? Pots and pans? Glassware? Dishes? Measuring cups? I don’t know about you, but I mostly use paper plates and red cups.
It’s best to tackle a room at a time. Or even a closet in the room! It took me two days to go through two closets. Give yourself a time limit. I usually start with two hours. This will get you started! If you’re only looking at working for two hours, you are more likely to tackle the job. Before you know it, you are working for four hours and the closet is done. Plan ahead; but don’t beat yourself up if you get a little behind.
Digitize as much as you can. Everything from kid’s artwork to documents can be stored on the Cloud. Docs can be made into a PDF and stored on Google Drive or Dropbox. DVDs and CDs can be digitized using software from movavi.com or freemake.com. An easy, free app like Keepy stores all your kid’s artwork and gives you a share option too.
After you’ve pared down, invite family members and friends over to see if they want anything. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of kitchen stuff that way. Some family members or friends that are just starting out could potentially use your old furniture, like a dresser or dining table. Remember, you can only take so many pieces of furniture with you in the move. Even if you are going from a 2000 ft 3-bed to a 1200 ft 3-bed, a lot of furniture will have to go. Know your space limits.
Donating is great but research all of the facilities. Many take some things but not others. Some will pick up, but won’t do stairs. Don’t leave this till the last minute either; pickup schedules may take several weeks. Most will not take any electronic items, so all TVs and computers will be hard to get rid of. They are also considered hazardous waste and must be taken to specific disposal centers. You might have to resort to a dumpster or a junkman. There are alternatives to a regular dumpster like the Waste Management Bagster. For a set fee, you purchase the bag, fill it up, and they pick it up. Again, there are restrictions. Junkmen are great as they will come, move everything, and haul it away. But it can get pricey, so get an estimate first.
So make a plan and get downsizing!
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO