Is Downsizing Right for You?

by Nov 10, 20215 comments

When I eventually moved to a smaller home, it felt cozy, like having a pair of jeans that fit me just right – no wasting living space and no baggy fabric.

Lisa J. Shultz, Lighter Living: Declutter. Organize, Simplify.

It might be time for a Smaller Home

Is Decluttering Enough?

Many of us reach a point when we realize that we have too much space and too much stuff. It can be time-consuming and expensive for a large home if you no longer need the room. And clutter always manages to expand to fit the space that is available. That can mean hidden costs while your house effectively becomes a storage space for stuff that you probably don’t want or need.

You can reduce the expenses and time of home maintenance by downsizing to a smaller place. Before you make that decision, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

Determine what downsizing means to you

What is your vision of downsizing? What does it look like for you, your family and your lifestyle? Do you need to reduce the work it takes for physical care and upkeep of a large home? Do you want to pare down to a very small home and spend most of your time travelling? What type of home best suits the lifestyle that you want to live? Is your goal to reduce your environmental footprint? Do you want a single home or do you prefer to be in a condo or apartment? Will you or any family members need any type of support to live safely in the home (ex. medical assistance, ramps, or custom-designed furniture)? Is it important to you to be near public transportation or other amenities? Are you looking for a rural setting where you can have a large food garden?

These are just examples of questions that you need to ask as you consider your own unique situation. Your answers to these questions will help you determine if it is time to move to a smaller home. Or you might even find that minimizing and getting rid of your clutter might be all you need to create the home want right where you are.

Deciding To Downsize

This reflection and analysis will help you decide if downsizing is the right move and get clarity on what that downsizing looks like for you. If you make the decision to downsize, there are steps you can take to help make a smoother transition.

Get in the Right Mindset

The first step is to move past any overwhelm or you won’t be able to make much progress.  Remember why you have made the decision to downsize.  Think of all the benefits that you have identified.  Writing these things down might help you stay motivated when you feel anxious about the decision.  With a smaller home, you’ll have less cleaning to do, lower maintenance costs and less physical work like yard work and home repair.  That will free up more time to do the things that you most enjoy.  And downsizing doesn’t mean that you have to give up everything you love, just that you will have to be selective to ensure you surround yourself only with things that you love.

Start Searching

Once you have determined your needs, identify the type of home, any preferred locations and a list of wants and needs.  Decide if you will build or buy. Look at suitable locations and refine your list.  Talk to people in the community.  Ask family and friends for recommendations.  Work with a trusted professional realtor familiar with the area. Ideally you will be able to take some time with your decision.

Determine Your Space

When you know where you will be moving, map out the new space.  Get the floor plan or sketch it out, mark doors, windows and any unusual features. Check measurements for large furniture.  Assess closet space.  If possible, get some photos.  The more you can plan the space, the better you will be prepared to set some limits about what and how much you want to take with you to your new home.

Set Goals

Make a plan for your downsizing and give yourself some time.  Be realistic and honest with yourself about what you can get done and how long it will take.  It can be helpful to work backwards from a target moving date.

Decide What You Can’t Live Without

This is the hardest part of downsizing.  You will have to let some things go.  Some of the choices will no doubt be tough. As mentioned in earlier challenge posts, understanding your why and setting priorities is essential to being able to make these choices.

It might help to make some ‘rules’ to guide your choices.  Rules might be things like how many of a particular item you will keep or how much time you will give yourself to defer a decision on any one object or how much each family member can keep. 

Compromises will be necessary but discussion and planning can make it easier for everyone when it comes time to make difficult decisions.

Focus on one step at a time

Moving onto a new stage of life can be exciting but it can be a major source of stress. As discussed in yesterday’s challenge post, you need to take care to avoid overwhelm. If you have some time to make your move,  begin by taking 30 minutes or so each day to make lists, sort, and pack. That strategy will let you gain momentum as you see steady progress. Sometimes that is not possible and you have to make a move more quickly. Even when you do have some time to prep, it often comes down to crunch time. Try to do one thing at a time.  Take breaks.  And continue to remind yourself why you are making this move.

Get help

Downsizing is a big job and difficult enough without trying to do it all yourself.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of options. Involve your family in setting priorities, making choices and organizing.  Have friends help you pack.  someone who you can trust to be objective, push you to make some decisions, and remind you of your why.  You might also consider hiring professions to help price, sell or remove. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to be specific about what you need.

Take Action

Downsizing can be broken down into steps that make the whole process less overwhelming. These steps can help you transition to a smaller home with less time on care and upkeep of the home and its contents, giving you more time to enjoy your new minimalist lifestyle.

Challenge Questions for Day 10

Does downsizing appeal to you?  Why or why not?

What is your vision for downsizing?


Declutter Challenge for Day 10

Nightstand and Dresser

Clear surfaces. and nightstand drawers.  

Banner photo by David Gonzales from Pexels

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


  1. Vidya

    Thank you.. I especially liked this – decide what you can’t live without.. Giving this point a serious thought will definitely help in downsizing..

  2. Dr.Amrita Basu

    I already have embraced a downsized home because of the reason you mentioned.Plus it gives me more freedom with many decisions.You need what you need and the frills are great even in a small-scale.

    • Mary Elizabeth

      Good point. We don’t always need a large space to have what we need – plus a few frills. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Debi

    Such good questions to consider. But they aren’t easy to answer. Thank you for such an exhaustive list to help one evaluate their needs.

    • Mary Elizabeth

      You are right about that – not easy questions to answer. It definitely takes some thought and planning to make an informed decision. Fortunately, I have found the decision get easier and it is making such a big difference to simplify. Thanks for commenting.

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