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7 essential tips for downsizing

Your Life
Friday 28 May 2021
When it comes to life’s most stressful experiences, moving home always comes near the top of the list. And with good reason. Not only are you dealing with the practicalities of moving, there’s also the emotional ties we have to our homes.

So if moving home is stressful, downsizing to a smaller home can feel even more overwhelming.

However, we’ve put together 7 essential tips to help you downsize the right way.

Make a plan

Downsizing your home is a big job and it’s easy to get distracted – especially when it comes to deciding what you want to keep. To keep your eye on the prize, it’s a good idea to set yourself some mini goals with deadlines.
If you have a large amount of time before you move, perhaps going through one drawer a day is enough. Tailor your plan to your needs and make sure you schedule in some rest time.

Be practical

The key to successfully downsizing is to get rid of things you don’t want, don’t use, don’t need and don’t have space for. So if you’re moving to a flat, for instance, you can probably get rid of the lawnmower. If you’re downsizing to a two bedroom and currently have three beds – well, you get the idea.
Take a walk through your home with a notepad and pen and mark down all the obvious items you could get rid of.

Measure your furniture

While we’re on the subject of being practical, you may love your current large corner sofa, but if you can’t open your living room door of your new house because of the size of it – it’s not going to be any good.
Grab your tape measure and be ruthless. If it’s not going to fit, it can’t stay.

Keep, sell, donate or throw away

Take a room at a time and go through your belongings bit by bit. Label some bags with donate, sell or throw away.
It’s usually a good idea to categorise your items so you can see exactly how much you have. For example, take all your clothes out the wardrobe and sort into similar items. Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping, you can either pop it back in the wardrobe ready for packing up, or put it straight in a labelled moving box.
For donations, if transport is an issue, some charities – such as the British Heart Foundation – will collect. There are also groups on social media where you can either sell or donate your goods for free.

Don’t underestimate the emotional impact

Downsizing can be a hugely emotional time, particularly if you’re moving from a family home or a community you feel a part of.
If you’re struggling, rope in friends and family to help. Family can often provide some perspective too when you’re having trouble letting go of certain items or may even take them off your hands just while you make up your mind.
Another alternative is take a photo or video of the item, so you still have it to look at without it taking up space in your new home.

Avoid renting storage

It’s all too easy to think: ‘I’ll just put this into storage for a year.’ Before you know it, 10 years have passed along with a big chunk of money and you’re still no closer to making a decision on the items.
Try to be ruthless. If you’re not going to miss the item for a year while it’s in storage (or 10), do you really need to keep it?

Remember your ‘why’

Moving your entire life is a big job, particularly when you have to minimise your belongings. So remember why you are doing it when motivation runs low. Whether you’re moving to be closer to family or to make your life easier, this next adventure could be your best.

 Alternative options to downsizing

If you’re considering downsizing as a way to boost your retirement finances, there are other options. Equity release is one way you can unlock some of the cash from your home without having to move or downsize.
Find out more by downloading your free equity release guide.

Equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits. Equity release may involve a lifetime mortgage which is a loan secured against your home.
Page last updated: Monday 13 September 2021