Should I declutter when I want to downsize?

Downsizing is a natural part of a homeowners’ life, looking to move into a smaller, more manageable home. With this, however, it means having less space and this can cause a problem if it isn’t considered. We Buy Any House look into some of the ways that homeowners can deal with this early on with some helpful decluttering tips. 

When should I downsize?

According to Freeman Retirement Living, the perfect age to downsize is 64 – at which point having too much space to maintain can start to take its toll. 

You will be able to decide for yourself what’s right for you, though; some homeowners decide not to downsize, whereas others choose to do so at an earlier age to avoid the physical and mental stress that comes with moving home. 

What are the pros to downsizing?

There are several advantages to downsizing, and one of the most favoured is the money that you can save through moving to a smaller home. You might be able to buy outright meaning you no longer have a mortgage to pay, as well as likely having lower utility bills as you’re not using as much energy to heat a larger house. 

A smaller property also reduces the stress of maintenance, allowing you to spend more time doing things that you enjoy and not having to worry about housework or gardening.

What are the cons to downsizing?

The main disadvantage that homeowners find when downsizing is that you’ve got less space for your belongings, which means you’ll probably need to do some decluttering before you move to make it easier.

Do I need to declutter? 

Most of us who have been living in our homes for a long time have collected all sorts of things over the years, and have got a lot of stuff to move – that may not fit in the new home. 

Spending time decluttering before you look to downsize lets you organise what you’ve got, makes sure that you’re not keeping hold of things that you don’t need anymore, and will also help you make a start on the packing process, getting you ready to go. 

Decluttering can also have some very positive results on our mental health, allowing us to take the skills used to organise the home and utilise them in other parts of our lives.

What other benefits does decluttering offer?

There are some interesting health benefits to decluttering too, including –

  • Reducing anxiety and depression:
    Research from Darby E Saxbe told us that the way our homes look affect our mood, with those living in cluttered conditions being more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression.
  •  A better sleep pattern:
    Bedrooms should be a peaceful place, and those that are full of stuff will have an adverse effect on your sleeping pattern. A study by Pamela Thatcher shows that those who are at risk of hoarding items have a worse nights’ sleep compared to those who don’t have many things in their bedrooms.
  • Makes for a happier home:
    Often, homeowners who struggle with clutter in the house are less inclined to have people visit, which can result in them becoming isolated. 

How can I get started?

Decluttering can be a stressful task, but if you go into it with a plan, you’ll find things much easier, letting you make good progress and see a big difference very quickly. Some of the best ways that we’ve found to tackle clutter are –

  1. Know what space you’ll have

When you’re decluttering before you move home, it’s important to know just how much space you’re going to have as this will determine how much you need to get rid of. If you’re moving from a 4-bedroom house into a 2-bedroom flat, you’ll likely need to get rid of furniture as well as any clutter that you’ve collected, whereas if you’re moving somewhere that’s only slightly smaller you might not need to get rid of as much.

By looking at the amount of space you’re going to have, you can outline what you absolutely need to get rid of in advance to make things easier for you; realising on moving day that you don’t have space for furniture will cause further stress and make it harder for you. 

  1. Give yourself plenty of time

There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed when you’re trying to do something, so make sure that when you want to declutter, you give yourself enough time to get the job done without putting pressure on yourself and making it more difficult than it needs to be. 

By starting to go through your things in the months leading up to your move, you’ll be able to spend as much time as you need to sort through and decide what’s staying and what isn’t. A lot of the time, the things that we’ve collected over the years have got sentimental values which makes it harder to let go of them, so having time to make these decisions is important. 

On average, it takes 2-3 weeks to get packed ready to move according to Moversville, but this can vary depending on how much time you’ve got each day and if you know that you tend to do things a little on the slow side, so make sure that you give yourself as much time as you need.

  1. Four boxes

When you start to declutter, label four boxes as keep, donate, sell, and throw away. This gives you four options for all of the things that you find and will make you think about where they really belong. A lot of the time, it’s difficult to let go of clutter, but knowing that it will be going to another home where it will be used regularly can make it easier to say goodbye. 

You can choose how you want to donate your items, whether you give them to family and friends or to a local charity that you like to support. After a week or so when all of the boxes are full, you can empty them as necessary and then start again in a different area of the house. 

Spacewise looked into the pros and cons of this method, and found that it works best when decluttering one room at a time, helping you stay organised and avoid feeling overwhelmed. 

  1. Take it one step at a time

Decluttering your home is a big task, so start small and work your way up. Pick certain, small areas that you want to declutter first and don’t move on until these are done. It’s all too easy to say you’re going to declutter the whole house, but because you’re doing spots all over the place you don’t see any real progress and get disheartened. 

Be strategic and finish one thing at a time, allowing you to see the work that you’ve put in which will keep you going. After dealing with these smaller sections, you can start to look at bigger spaces, and you’ll soon start to see entire rooms making great progress. 

When you look at downsizing, decluttering should be a part of your process to ensure that you’re not taking too much with you that will fill up your new home – just remember to give yourself plenty of time, and to approach it strategically.