Recently our teams in the greater Vancouver area have been doing quite a few projects for empty-nesters who are downsizing. It got us thinking about how one goes about paring down and scaling back to go from an average family home to a small condo or similar compact urban living space. We know there are many people out there who are either in this process or are looking at downsizing in the next five years, so we thought we’d share some of our own tips and insights in a two-part blog series, starting with five tips for downsizing your home.
Before & After- One of Terry’s downsizing projects: renovating a small bedroom and turning it into a multi-purpose room with a Murphy Bed for guests
1) Do a thorough audit of all of your stuff. You may not even realize just how much stuff you have, especially if it has been packed away in an attic or garage for decades. As soon as you begin making plans to downsize, even if you’re home isn’t on the market yet, start going through all of those forgotten things. Get rid of stuff you no longer use or need or can live without in your new home.
Invariably, you’ll come upon items that you’re not sure if you should keep or get rid of. Put these things aside in their own category or box for going through again later on, once your initial “audit” is complete. By then you’ll have a better idea how much more stuff you’ll need to part with in order to fit into a smaller space.
2) Give things to your children. Your grown children may actually have use for some of the things you can’t take with you to your new, smaller home, like furniture items. Other things, like heirloom pieces, can also be given to your children as a way to keep them in the family without keeping them in your home.
3) Take pictures. One of the great things about living in the digital age is that it’s so easy to take and keep pictures. That’s why we love the idea of keeping pictures of stuff rather than keeping stuff. You know you can’t take your children’s pre-school drawings and art projects with you when you move, but it’s hard to part with such precious memories. Taking digital photos of those sentimental things gives you a way to “keep” them without taking up any additional space.
4) Sell your excess stuff. If you have stuff that you don’t need any more or can’t take with you, sell it. Hold a garage sale, or list it on Craigslist or your local classifieds. Earmark whatever money comes in from the sale of your stuff for helping make the space in your new home more efficient. (We’ll be exploring this idea more in depth in part two of this series.)
5) Give away or recycle any excess. Donate or recycle whatever you can’t sell and your kids don’t want. Take usable stuff to a local thrift store. Anything that isn’t in good enough condition to be donated should be recycled. There are options here in the Lower Mainland for recycling almost anything and everything, from electronics and appliances to broken furniture and clothing.