Teresa McRae

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10 Tips for Downsizing


Are you stressed out by the idea of downsizing? If you're an empty nester moving from a house into a condo, a large house to a smaller one or a renter going from a two-bedroom for a studio, saying goodbye to some of your stuff doesn’t have to be a pain if you have a plan.


1.      Make a list of all the items you love and can't part with. You can’t keep it all but a list will help you feel like each decision is a smart one and can help you remove the emotion from the process.

2.      Start thinning out your belongings 3-6 months before the move.  The earlier the better as this may take longer than you expect. The basement or storage areas are great places to start as some stuff may not have been seen or used in years. If you haven’t used it in the past year do you still need it?

3.      Measure your new rooms and compare them to rooms of similar dimensions in your present home. Doing a floorplan with proper dimensions will help you decide what can go with you and will fit. Prearrange your furniture before the move.  Then be realistic; if you've crammed in side tables, armoires and chairs, you need to edit more. Don't wait until after you move, you'll just end up tripping over things in the way or have a bookshelf in the bathroom.
4.      Heavily purge areas with more functional items. The kitchen, garage and shed are areas with less sentiment and more utility.  Consider that you may not need so many kitchen tools, or garden, handyman and painting tools. If you are moving to a condo or hire out most of the extra work these days you probably need very little of these.
5.      Be green. Recycle, reuse, sell and donate instead. Be environmentally responsible and find a home for things. Clean up things you no longer use and past them on. Even cleaning supplies and unused paint may help someone else; consider giving to a shelter, neighbour, local handyman or cleaning lady.

 6.      Sort one category at a time.  Categories may be sports equipment, clothing, tools, etc.


  • Sort the entire category at one time. This saves duplication, rethinking, is more efficient and takes less time in the long run than one closet at a time.
  • Gather it all in one place.  From every closet, nook or drawer; put it all together. If you are like me, you forget what you have stored around the house in different places. Getting it in one place is essential to sorting it out. Mementos and old photos require a lot of attention and energy.  Take a chunk of time or part of a day each week, to go through paper, old files, old photos, and mementos. Tackle one category at a time.
  • Sort one item at a time into pre labeled bins. Once an item is rejected from one of these groups, go down the list till you find where it goes. Sorting once like this is much less stressful and will give you a big sense of accomplishment.  Label your bins:
      • Keep - if you love it, need it or use it. (pack it now if not needed before moving)
      • Give now to family or friends - only if it will enhance their lives, not add to their junk
      • Sell - garage sale, kijiji, consignment, auction, second hand store (advertise it free online)
      • Donate  - Some charities will pick up if you have furniture to donate
      • Chuck – The last resort


7.      Get an objective opinion. Bring a friend or someone less emotionally attached that you to help you to get through the difficult decisions. Just having them nudge you is good. “When was the last time you ever used that or even looked at it?”
8.      When selling your large or valuable goods.  If you have furniture and high end items look for reputable antique and second hand dealers. Often, they can buy all of your wares or put you in touch with booksellers and other specialty dealers. What they don’t sell they will take to a charity.  When selling on line, be sure the buyer picks up the items so you won’t have to go all over the place when you are too busy moving. If you can't sell an item, offer it for free if they pick up and give a deadline. Or donate it to a shelter.
9.      Once you get to the packing stage, use a colour-coded system to organize all of your boxes.  One method is to choose a colour for each room and mark the boxes destined for that room with a coordinating colour sticker. You can also do the same thing numerically; for example, if room Number 1 is the kitchen, then all boxes marked “1” will go there. A simple and efficient organizing idea to make the move that much easier!

10.   If it still seems like too much to handle then consider a service to help you with the entire process. They are fast, efficient and because they are experienced, they take the guess work out of where to start and go next.  Getting the help here may be the best answer for you.


Once done you will feel so much lighter in many ways! And ready to move forward with your life. And isn’t that what it’s all about. 

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