Downsizing and Decluttering

02/13/23  |  Liz Lyster

Most people think of real estate as an investment; after all, homes are one of the few assets that appreciate over time. And unlike fine art or wine, you can actually live in the thing while it increases in value. Try that with a Picasso and you’ll be sorely disappointed (and very cramped). And because you think of your home as an investment—and because changing circumstances often warrant more space—it is common to “trade up” over time. But what about when your circumstances dictate that you need less space? Scroll down to learn more.

When is smaller better?

Simply put, smaller is better when you have space you don’t use. Perhaps your children have grown and moved away. Maybe you don’t want to clean so many bathrooms. Many people look to downsize after a spouse has died, and the home you shared with a loved one no longer brings you the same kind of joy. Moving into a smaller home also frees up that rambling single-family for a new set of inhabitants who may be at the beginning of their journey. 


But all those rooms are filled with stuff!

Everyone knows that if there’s an empty space, most people will fill it. Is your guest bedroom crammed with books from college? Is your dining room home to four separate sets of dishes? Are your basement, attic, and garage replete with boxes? Consider decluttering and divesting yourself of belongings you no longer need. This can be a huge undertaking with a lot of emotions tied into it, but it is entirely possible to do. We’ve worked with plenty of clients over the years who have decided to declutter as a first step, and the benefits are tremendous:


  • Makes managing your belonging easier
  • Creates a simpler system for maintaining your home
  • Decreases stressful feelings of disorganization
  • Opens up space for the things that really matter
  • Lessens the burden on family members assisting in a move


What steps do people take to downsize?

First of all, deciding to downsize is a big step; sometimes people put off this decision until they are disabled or when money has gotten tight, and we understand that this is normal. However, moving before you are forced to so gives you more agency and lowers stress for you and family members. Think: move when you want to, not when you have to. The general steps needed to downsize are:


  • Develop a plan to move: decide when, and start looking for your next (smaller) home
  • Declutter and clear out what you don’t need: ask for help from friends, family, or hire an organizer
  • Prepare your home for sale: we work with you to make your home look its best
  • Move out: choose a reputable moving company to move your remaining items to your new home
  • Unpack and settle into your new, smaller, and more manageable home


If you’re not ready to move to a smaller home, we still suggest decluttering your existing home. You’ll be living in a whole new environment! In addition, if you decide to downsize at a later date, you have already completed one of the toughest steps.


What tips and tricks are there for decluttering?

  • If you’re starting to think that your home is too cluttered, or too big for you, start with one room, one space, or even one drawer, and go from there
  • Get a friend, family member or professional organizer to help you (we have great relationships with a number of organizers, such as Heather Ahern from The Functional Home or Amy Roberts from Out of the Box Moves)
  • Sort items into Keep, Donate/Sell, and Trash groups 
  • If you want to keep an item, ask yourself when you’ll use it, where you’ll keep it, and what would life be like if you don’t keep it
  • Take before and after pictures. They are so inspiring!


What are the advantages of downsizing?

There are plenty of reasons to move into a smaller home, including financial, physical health, quality of life, and mental health:


  • Access the proceeds from the sale of your larger home
  • Spend some of that money on higher quality amenities 
  • Shell out less money to maintain, heat, and cool your home
  • Choose a home you can navigate more easily if you have limited mobility
  • Yard maintenance will be simpler; or if you downsize to a retirement community, condo, or apartment, yard maintenance will be handled by someone else 
  • Less storage space will force you to be discerning about what you bring into your home, which will lead to less clutter and better organization  


Are you ready to think about decluttering your home? Are you thinking about downsizing in the near future? Contact us. We’re here to help.

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With their complementary communication styles, responsiveness, competence, and ability to truly listen, Ellie and Liz enable their clients to feel at ease throughout any real estate transaction. They would welcome the opportunity to be your next real estate advisors.

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