packing home for downsizing

The Trials and Tribulations of Downsizing (Part 1)

At certain points in our lives, downsizing into a smaller home becomes the next best logical step. Perhaps your children have flown the nest and the excess space is only good for generating excess upkeep, or you’re in need of freeing up some cash from the sale of your home and through more affordable energy bills. It may even be that you’re wanting to enter a new chapter in your life and the location of your new home means it’ll have to be a 2-bedroom rather than a 3-bedroom.

After talking with a number of new home buyers, we noticed a recurring theme of individuals not adequately planning for these downsizing scenarios. Only upon packing up their belongings did it dawn on them that their current furniture, curtains, light fittings and garden furniture didn’t fit in the smaller place, or that without their previous ‘spare’ room (read storage room) they no longer had the space for years of piled-up clutter. At the same time, you don’t want to engage in a last-minute panic clear-out and accidentally end up with 10 spoons, 0 forks and having thrown out your daughter’s graduation certificate.

But with timely organisation, honest clear-outs and a willingness to put in some effort, this doesn’t have to be. We’ve compiled a list of tips and a corresponding timeline that will help avoid the aforementioned nightmarish scenarios and instead ensure the process of downsizing is as smooth-running as possible. 

Before you downsize

When looking at new homes, make sure you know the square footage of all potential buys. Ask your estate agent to provide measurements of all rooms and familiarise yourself with the storage spaces – compare this with the measurements of your existing furnishings to see what could realistically fit. If moving into an apartment with outdoor communal areas, enquire about whether you can put your garden furniture within this space or if it will fit on the private balcony or patio – this can be easily forgotten! If you’ve got more than one car stored in a large garage and you’d only be assigned 1 on-road parking spot or bay, research the process, cost and feasibility of acquiring multiple parking spaces.

It’s easy to quickly fall in love with a new property and wilfully ignore these practical considerations, but it’s better to plan for how you’ll need to be creative with storage solutions and furnishing options sooner rather than later!

Packing up!

So, you’ve picked the property, you know the measurements and how much storage space you have. In all cases, in the process of downsizing, it’s almost a certainty that not everything can make the move with you. Start this task as soon as you know you’re moving – Do not leave packing up to the week or days before you move.

Firstly, we recommend ignoring the commonly refrained phrase ‘start small’ and start big. If you haven’t already, take an inventory of all your furniture, measure it, and plan for what will nicely fit in your new home and what won’t. Be realistic with this. Don’t try and shoe-horn in a sofa that gets frequent complements but that won’t fit well into the living room space – the aesthetic won’t make up for banging your shins every time you go to watch TV, we promise! Maybe your dining table is still perfect, but you only need one coffee table now you’ve reduced your living space. If you’ve got a long-loved collection of ornate lamps, rugs or paintings, resist the urge to blindly hope they’ll all fit. You’ll waste money and effort after hauling them all in once you realise that 2 lamps per bedside aren’tisn’t as avant-garde as you told yourself. Write down what will fit, what won’t (but you love too much to let go of), and what you’re happy to part ways with.

Next, go small. Take an inventory of all your possessions room-by-room. From clothes in the bedroom (make sure you know how much drawer and cupboard space your new home has), board game collections and electrical appliances in the living room, kitchenware, and passed-down keep-sakes or your children’s baby clothes and swimming badges stored in the cupboard. Now, same as before – organise these possessions into different groups (keep, unsure, unwanted), but with the added focus on decluttering. Be mindful that you’re entering the next chapter in your life and the refreshing part about this is that you can ‘start fresh’. Think about pro-organiser Mari Kondo’s ethos: focus on having a house full of items that spark joy by imagining your ideal lifestyle. Of course, this is easier said than done, but if you allocate time each week to this task well in advance, I’m sure you do know what you need and what you don’t.


Next time… More tips on packing up and the final stage, moving in! Make sure to keep an eye on our website for Part 2. In the meantime, check out our other blogs on all things property related.