Downsizing can bring the conundrum of trying to fit a lifetime of possessions into a more compact home. But does size really matter? We explain how to solve the dilemma.
“Things” have a way of sneaking up on us, and downsizing your home can mean working out what matters – and what doesn’t, among your collection of belongings.
By the time we’re in our 50s or 60s – and definitely by our 70s, most of us own a lot of possessions. All this “stuff” can be a stumbling block when it comes to downsizing.
That’s why making the move from a high maintenance family home to a more manageable downsizer property calls for a strategy on what to do with all those belongings accumulated over a lifetime.
For many downsizers, the decision to part with possessions can be a wrench. One way to approach this is by thinking about what you’d replace if you lost everything? Of course, hopefully, you’ll never have to make this call, but it can be a good perspective to realise that we actually use only a small percentage of our belongings on a day-to-day basis. The rest just sits idly filling cupboards and drawers.
That’s why downsizing is such a good opportunity to take stock of what really matters – and what you really need in your home.
Sort items into three categories
It can help to categorise items into one of three groupings: the must-haves (these are essential); the nice-to-haves; and the items you can live without.
Clearly, the essentials go with you, but the rest can often be farewelled without too much residual impact. If you can giveaway some things to friends or family, so much the better. You’ll at least be able to see someone who matters getting enjoyment from your surplus possessions.
But plenty of items can be sold via garage sales, online selling sites or through auction houses. That’s more money in your pocket for your new downsizer lifestyle.
I suspect we’re all guilty of owning more than one of most things. But ask yourself how often you really use that second (or third) set of red wine glasses.
The last thing you need to do is fill your new home with clutter. And the reality is that you can probably pare back quite a few items when it comes to things like linen, crockery, small appliances, gardening tools…frankly, the list goes on.
Explore different storage options
Developers have been quick to recognise that storage space is a must in downsizer properties. It’s certainly something worth looking for, however there are other ways to maximise storage space without minimising living space.
Shelving, under-bed-storage, ottomans with a lid, chests that double as coffee tables – they can all provide additional storage space without taking up unnecessary floor space.
Relish a new start
Part of the excitement of downsizing is experiencing a fresh start.
Sure, some of your items will have sentimental value. But plenty won’t. Don’t spoil the thrill of starting afresh by carting along baggage you don’t really need – and perhaps have never even used, in your old home.
Downsizing is a new beginning, and one worth exploring with a fresh canvas. And half the fun is shopping for new pieces of furniture and home accessories when you kit out your new home!
Amanda Graham is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of SeniorsHousingOnline.com.au and Downsizing.com.au