How do you downsize and move a lifetime of memories and belongings from a large family home to a smaller space? It’s a daunting task, deciding what to keep, what to toss and dealing with all of the emotions along the way, but our expert downsizing tips can help.
We spoke with Janet Hulstrand and Linda Hetzer, two friends who collaborated on a downsizing book after they went through similar experiences moving their fathers into significantly smaller living spaces. They wished there had been a book to guide them, so when it was all over, they researched and wrote one. The result, “Moving On”, is now available online.
Linda and Janet say the biggest questions someone should ask when considering a move from a large living space to a small one are:
- Do I/we really need this much space anymore?
- Are we really using it?
- Is the burden of taking care of this place beginning to compromise the joy I/we used to feel in living here?
- Would a smaller place fit our current lifestyle better?
- Would the money it saves make it easier to travel, or do other things we enjoy?”
Janet and Linda learned that at the root of downsizing is the difficulty of change. “No one really wants to leave their home, although that is sometimes the best decision,” said Linda.
Letting go of all the material possessions acquired over a lifetime is the biggest part of the change. “Getting rid of our possessions is a difficult task for everyone, but especially for people who appreciate the memories that are entwined with the possessions,” said Linda. “We have found that acknowledging the emotions, and then accepting that we no longer need the item is helpful. We started using the phrase, ‘keeping the memories, getting rid of the stuff.’”
Linda said the best way to approach downsizing is to take baby steps. “We all have to edit our possessions continually to keep our closets from overflowing, our bookshelves from toppling, and our papers from overtaking our homes. However, when the time comes for a more complete downsizing, it can be accomplished in much the same way, one small step at a time.
Janet adds, “That’s where a storage space can come in handy. Renting a storage space can help defer some of those decisions, and give people the time they need to figure out what to keep, what to give away or sell, who takes what, and so on, so they don’t end up with any regrets.”
They also stress keeping in mind the benefits of going into a smaller living space. “It costs less; you can enjoy all the space, not just certain rooms. You are less likely to let clutter accumulate,” says Linda. “It’s cozier and helps bring people together. It’s kinder to the environment. And it’s easier to clean!”
You can read more tips on their blog Downsizing the Home, Lessons Learned.