When it’s time to move from the family home to a smaller house or a senior living facility, you’ll need to downsize the contents of your home to fit into the new space. But how do you decide what to keep and what to part with? Sorting through a home filled with decades of memories is no easy feat, but it can be done well when you take a strategic approach to organizing your house.

Before you start, consider that this task may be too big for you to accomplish on your own. Enlist help from friends, children, or senior moving professionals to keep the project manageable.

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Next, figure out exactly how big your new home is. Draw a floor plan with accurate dimensions for each room and keep it handy as you’re deciding which items to keep. Once you have the blueprint, you can decide what large furniture you’d like to bring. Unless you’re moving into a furnished apartment or care facility, you’ll want to bring all the basics: a bed, dresser, couch, coffee table, and dining set. However, depending on the size of your new home you may need to swap oversized couches and formal dining sets for low-profile seating and dinette furniture.

Image source: Pixabay

Once the big stuff is figured out, it’s time to zoom in on individual rooms. Go through your home one room at a time assessing which items should stay and which ought to be sold, donated, or tossed out. To avoid overwhelming yourself early on, start with rooms you don’t use often, like the laundry room or guest bedroom. Not only do they have less to organize, but these rooms are also less likely to be full of memories to reminisce over.

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When you do get to those memory-filled rooms, don’t rush yourself. Digging through old belongings is likely to stir up emotions, and it’s better to take the time to cherish those thoughts rather than push them away for the sake of efficiency.

As you decide what to keep, consider these questions:

When was the last time I used this? Was it within the past year?

How often do I use it? Is it necessary for that task, or could it be replaced with something else I own? Is that task one I’ll have to do in my new home?

Is it in good condition? If it needs repairs, are they affordable and likely to happen, or has it already been in disrepair for years?

Does it have sentimental value? If so, do I look at it often? Would it lose its sentimental value if it were a photograph rather than a physical object?

Items that haven’t been used in a long time, that serve a very specific, rare purpose, or that are no longer functioning properly should head to the dispose or donate pile. For items that are useful or otherwise valued, consider whether you’ll need them in your new home and if there’s space for them.

Image source: Arnel Hasanovic

If you’re moving into a care facility or other senior living community, you need to be even more selective when downsizing. Set aside all the essential items you use on a regular basis along with your most beloved sentimental belongings. For the things, you can’t take but don’t want to lose, gifting family heirlooms and digitizing photo albums is a great way to keep memories close. And remember that some common household items, like area rugs and extension cords, may not be allowed at all.

Whether you’re doing it for the first time or the tenth, moving is never fun. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing well. Take the time to downsize the right way and enjoy a more stress-free settling in when you move to your new home.


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