8 Essential Downsizing Tips


  1. Don’t Wait – Start NOW!
  2. Take an Inventory of Your Belongings
  3. Sort Through One Room at a Time
  4. Minimize Duplicates
  5. Essential or Sentimental, Give Away, Throw Away, Store
  6. Create a Plan to Get Rid of Unwanted Items
  7. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
  8. Ask For Help – You Don’t Need to Do This Alone


 So, you’ve decided to downsize.   There are many reasons for deciding to downsize your home:

  • Maintaining your home is simply too much work
  • You’re looking to simplify your life
  • You want to move closer to your family
  • You’ve lost your spouse and your current home feels empty without them
  • You’ve recently divorced and have decided to move on
  • Health issues make it difficult to continue living where you are now
  • You want to move to an adult lifestyle or retirement community where you can meet new friends and stay active


Whatever your reasons, this is a big step for anyone.  It’s natural to feel a little anxious and overwhelmed.   Here are 8 Essential Downsizing Tips that will make your transition smoother, calmer and successful.


  1. Don’t Wait – Start NOW!

You haven’t accumulated your ‘stuff’ overnight and so you can’t expect to declutter in a day either.   You’ll need plenty of time to sort through your belongings and make your piles (see #5).   Spread this task out over several weeks, that way you can make methodical choices, take plenty of breaks and confirm what you’re keeping.


  1. Take an Inventory of your Belongings

It’s helpful to make a list or have a spreadsheet that you can look at to help organize your ‘sorting’ and decide what is important to keep (and what can be let go of).  A checklist can help you with a son or daughter’s belongings who no longer live in your house but have stored items in their old bedrooms.   It can also avoid you from keeping three of an item you only need one of.


  1. Sort Through One Room at a Time

Sort through room by room.  The thought of decluttering a whole house can be extremely stressful and overwhelming.   Packing your bedroom will feel more manageable than decluttering your whole house.  This method will be effective in reducing your stress.   Keep in mind, that if you pack room by room and label the boxes you are taking to your new home, the unpacking will be much easier & effortless.


  1. Minimize Duplicates

Most of us have a few items in our home that we have two or even three of.   Part of the process of decluttering is to ask yourself ‘do I really need that slow cooker?’   Do I need three of them?   Be sensible -  if there is only one of you, only take what you will use and need.


  1. Essential or Sentimental/Give Away/Store/Throw Away

Start making your piles in these 4 categories.   Many items you bring into your new home will serve an important function.   You’ll want to keep some items that are sentimental to you such as photo albums or family heirlooms that have been passed down.  If you have quite a bit of clutter to get through, be as ruthless as you can – keep what you absolutely need with the objective of not having a cluttered space in your new home.   Let the grown kids decide what they would like to keep and then have them make arrangements to pick them up.  If you have items you need to store, see if your new home has storage space, store with family or a friend or rent a storage unit.  The Rule of Thumb is that if you haven’t touched the items you store for one year, try to dispose of them at that time.


  1. Create a Plan to Get Rid of Unwanted Items

Once you’ve identified the items that are not coming to your new home, you have several options:

  • Pass items down to family or friends
  • Donate to a local donation centre or Charity (many charities will pick up)
  • Have a yard Sale
  • Post for Sale on sites such as Marketplace on Facebook, eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, Kijiji
  • Throw out or arrange pick up from a company such as ‘Just Junk’ or rent a dumpster


  1. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Pace yourself!  Unless your needs are urgent, follow a methodical, orderly plan that has realistic time goals.    If you rush through the house, you are likely to get overwhelmed and give up.    Set a schedule to focus on one room, one closet or just one box at a time.    Whether going through a home you have lived in for many years, or a loved one’s home, you will want to take the time to sort through so that you do not miss any items or documents of value.


  1. Ask for Help – YOU DON’T NEED TO DO THIS ALONE!

This is a huge undertaking.   Reach out for help from family or friends, even putting them on shifts. You also have the option of reaching out to reputable decluttering companies for a fee (hourly or bundled) who will get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Some content contributed by:  Paul Cavanagh and Carla Ayers of Rocket Homes