When you are moving into a smaller home, it can be hard to downsize. Getting rid of belongings and deciding what to take with you is difficult for many people — so they end up putting it off and creating extra stress for themselves.
We want to make sure that your move goes as smoothly and hassle-free as possible, so we put together this Home Downsizing Checklist! You can use this to get a handle on the process of downsizing your home and getting ready to move to your new residence:
1. Work out your home sale
Before anything else, you want to make sure that you have everything prepared for your home sale. The last thing you want to happen is for the deal to fall through on your current home and leave you with two mortgages to take care of.
There are a few ways to ensure that everything goes smoothly with your home sale while still giving you time to pack. One option is to speak with your real estate agent about including a rent-back clause. A rent-back clause is an agreement that you make with whoever is buying your home: you will be allowed to live on the property for a set amount of time and pay rent to the buyer. This will give you time to do the rest of the items on this checklist and finalize the details of your move.
Another option is to look into an Instant Offer home sale program. These tools will allow you to get an offer on your home in as little as 24-48 hours, with no risk of the buyer backing out at the last second. This means that you can focus your attention and energy on downsizing your home, rather than fretting about the sale itself.
2. Consider your next living situation
Hopefully, if you have already worked out the details of selling your home, you have a new home lined up. However, the next steps on this downsizing checklist rely on you having a good handle on the details of your new home. There are a lot of reasons why people choose to downsize, and just as many different types of homes that they move on to.
If you are going to be moving from a house in the suburbs to an apartment in the city, you will have different needs than if you were moving into a smaller home or a senior care facility. It’s important to understand the differences between these downsizing homes, so you can properly plan what you will be bringing with you and what you will be leaving behind.
If possible, find out the exact dimensions of your new home. Then, mask out those dimensions in your current house using string or painter’s tape. This will help you visualize how much space you will have, and how your belongings will (or won’t) fit into the new home.
As part of this step, make sure you do some research about your destination city, as well. If you will be staying in the same area, then you can skip this. But if you are moving from the West Coast to Northern Virginia, for instance, then it’s a good idea to figure out the top things to do in Arlington VA before you arrive.
3. Figure out your must-haves
It’s always hard to let go of things when downsizing your home. However, it is almost always necessary to give away, throw away, or sell some belongings when you are moving to a smaller home.
If you used the trick from step #2 (recreating your new home with tape or string), then you will be able to more clearly see things that simply won’t fit in your new home. If you have a massive vanity that doesn’t fit anywhere in the string layout, then you probably shouldn’t bring it with you.
Here’s another helpful tip: if you find a piece of clothing, furniture, or houseware that you forgot that you had, then it’s probably safe to get rid of during the move.
So what are the categories for determining what is a “must-have?” They’re different for everyone and rely heavily on feelings — so you will have to figure it out for yourself. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to throw away sentimental items that are taking up space. If you have a collection of handwritten letters that mean a lot to you, for instance, consider scanning them onto your computer so you have the words and sentiment without the clutter.
4. Decide whether or not you are taking appliances
Your appliances are likely some of the largest items that you own — and usually the hardest to transport. Depending on your new home, however, you might be able to get away with leaving the appliances behind. If you are moving into an apartment or care facility, check to see whether the unit has a washing machine and dryer hookups; if so, do they come with the machines as well?
What if it’s a long-distance relocation
If you are moving long-distance, you might want to consider selling your appliances locally and then buying new ones in your new city. This will cut down on the hassle — and cost — of your move.
5. Create a 4-pile system to declutter your home
Once you’ve figured out what you’re taking with you to your new home, you need to decide what to do with the things that you are leaving behind.
Our suggestion is to make a “4-pile” system. This means that you will sort your belongings into 4 different stacks, depending on what you are planning to do with them.
The first pile will be for items that you can give away to your friends and family. This includes sentimental items that you cannot take with you but don’t want to throw away or donate. Have your friends come by to look through this pile after you’ve made it — and then recruit their help with organizing and packing!
The second pile is for things that you want to donate. People often choose to donate furniture and clothes that are in good condition to local charities or shelters, to help give back to their community. Some charities will allow you to request a truck to come pick up your larger donations, but others might require you to bring the items to their location.
The third pile is for items that you want to sell. Selling furniture, clothes, and housewares can give you a nice financial cushion when downsizing; it probably won’t cover a security deposit, but selling your belongings can cover some costs of moving.
The fourth and final pile is for trash. These are items that are in too bad of shape to sell or donate, or that you don’t want to go through the hassle of passing along to someone else.
By the time that you’ve sorted your belongings into these 4 piles, your home should start to seem far less cluttered. Now you are ready to get rid of the items in those piles and start packing up what you are bringing with you!
6. Moving day!
Once you have taken care of your clutter and packed up the things that you are bringing with you, all that’s left is to actually move! The best advice that we can give you for moving is to make sure that you are working with a high-quality mover. A good moving company will make the process much easier and less stressful, while making sure that all of your belongings arrive safely at your destination. Your real estate agent will likely have a mover with whom they frequently work — ask them if they have any recommendations or partnerships with local movers!
Downsizing your house and moving to a new home can be a stressful process. That’s why it’s so important to work with the right real estate team! No matter whether you are living in Arlington VA, one of the hottest neighborhoods in Washington DC, or anywhere else in the DMV, we want to help you — so contact the Keri Shull Team today! Just click here to schedule a time to speak with one of our expert agents!