10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT DOWNSIZING

There is a lot to know and do when it comes to downsizing. Let's talk about 10 important things to know when you are in the process of downsizing and after you move into a new home.
DOWNSIZED DINING ROOM

Today let’s talk about 10 things you need to know about downsizing. This is just an overview and a list of things to keep in mind. We will be chatting about them in-depth as the year goes on.

DINING ROOM IN A DOWNSIZING HOME

We are embarking in a year-long series about downsizing! There is just so much to chat about and so many savvy tips that will make the downsizing journey much easier!

You might like to read OUR DOWNSIZING STORY before you read today’s post.

And don’t miss all the amazing stories and advice so many of StoneGable’s wonderful readers shared too!

Here are 10 things to know about downsizing! If you have some advice please leave it for us in the comments!

DOWNSIZING DOES NOT MEAN JUST ONE THING

LIVING ROOM- THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT DOWNSIZING

When many of us think of downsizing we may think of leaving the home we raised our family in and moving to a smaller home.

But downsizing can mean so much more. You can downsize by just decluttering your home, or you can make a move to a home that suits your lifestyle better whether it is smaller or even bigger. There is really not a one size fits all definition of downsizing. Just like there is not one downsizing story!

Downsizing might mean moving to be nearer to your grown children or going to a place you have always wanted to live.

This series is about all these scenarios and more! So whatever your situation is or was we have lots and lots of tips and helpful advice for you. And we want you to share your tips and experiences too!

START EARLY IF YOU CAN

FOYER- THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT DOWNSIZING

I hope there are lots of readers who have just turned 50 or so that are reading this post!

It’s not too early to start thinking about the second half of your life. And think of it in a positive way.

And that includes living options.

You may be in the middle of your children’s high school or college years but you should also start to consider what your life may look like down the road.

It’s good to just think about life down the road because you never know what is around the corner!

Bobby and I could have never guessed that I would have a foot surgery that would leave me with a handicap and that circumstance would eventually pull us away from the home we loved so much!

Let me speak from experience here, we did not start early and our downsizing story started and ended in a matter of months. So all the things we needed to do and all the emotions got squeezed together! If we had had more time to think and plan the move from StoneGable to Tanglewood would have been so so much easier!

DOWNSIZING CAN BE VERY EMOTIONAL

LIVING ROOM CHAIR

I speak to so many people who are downsizers or who are somewhere in their downsizing journey and almost to a person (especially women) they say that downsizing is very emotional. I’m among that group!

Our homes tend to collect memories and so do our things! And often, it is the thought of letting them go that is often traumatic! There is so much to say about this aspect of downsizing and we will discuss this soon in another post.

Downsizing can be the close of a chapter of our lives. Or at least most of us think it is.

Here are other common reasons downsizing is so emotional…

  • loss of things
  • loss of home
  • close of a chapter of life
  • letting go of things that have memories
  • the daunting size of the task of downsizing
  • fear of the future
  • moving from friends and family
  • moving closer to family
  • living in a smaller home
  • finances
  • moving and setting up another home
  • making new friends in a new place

There are probably as many reasons for emotions as there are people in the downsizing process!

Moving from StoneGable to Tanglewood was very emotional for me. Partly because we were moving from a home I loved and partly because it all happened so fast and we had to go through the entire process so quickly.

Blogging was also a huge part of my emotional journey too! StoneGable was my blog and my job and my joy! I was not sure that my readers would like Tanglewood and follow me there.

It took me a while to realize that I can blog and still help readers at Tanglewood. And I should have know my readers were friends and they would cheer me on to a new home!

THE AMAZING BENEFITS OF DOWNSING

WHITE BUFFET WITH GREENS ON IT- DOWNSIZING

Let’s flip the coin from the emotional tole of downsizing and look at just how amazing downsizing can be.

If you have read My Downsizing Story you know just how emotional leaving our beloved StoneGable home was. And at the same time, there was a wonderful thrill of letting go of all the dross and clutter and starting fresh in a much more manageable home.

It is important to think about and even dwell on and dream about all the great and amazing benefits of downsizing. And there are more wonderful things about downsizing than I can count.

Bobby and I are so happy here at our Tanglewood House! We downsized our home upsized our life!

Here are a few great benefits of downsizing. If you have already downsized, are you experiencing any of these benefits?

  • less work
  • a home that suits your needs
  • more financial stability
  • lower home bills
  • more money to do other things
  • new friends
  • new furniture
  • more time
  • reduce clutter
  • be near family
  • new neighborhood or community
  • get to decorate a new-to-you home (for all my decorating friends)

Sometimes as we get older, change is much harder and we get stuck where we are. It’s hard to face the unknown so some of us settle to stay where we are, even though the change would be a better fit and lifestyle for us!

It’s all about mindset, my friend! Of course, downsizing is emotional but make sure to see and enjoy the benefits of the process too! Make a conscious effort to look for and find the wonderful benefits and joys that come with downsizing.

CHOOSING A HOME TO FIT YOUR NEEDS IS THE GOAL

CHAIR WITH A ZEBRA CHAIR ON IT

Let’s talk about downsizing to a new home.

When most of us think about downsizing we think about moving to a smaller home because for the majority of downsizers that is exactly what we do.

But we should really look at downsizing as finding the right home for our present lifestyle and beyond.

Again the options are many!

  • apartment living
  • retirement community
  • over 55 community
  • golf communities
  • lake communities
  • mountain communities
  • dessert communities
  • urban living
  • country living
  • single neighborhood homes
  • living with children or someone else

It’s not too early to look around the area you want to live in and check out your options for homes.

Bobby and I were not looking to downsize but we found a wonderful home on a country golf course and knew this opportunity would probably not come up again.

I don’t suggest you leave finding a home to serendipity!

Be proactive and enjoy seeing different homes and lifestyle choices in the area you want to live, if possible.

Remember no home is perfect! But be like Goldilocks, find the home that is “just right” for you!

TAKE TIME TO REMEMBER

What I really want to say is you may need time to mourn.

Moving from a home you have a strong attachment to and is filled decades of memories is hard. It’s important to take time to remember all the events that took place in your home. And sometimes in the process of remembering you might feel the loss!

This can be so bittersweet!

For me, leaving StoneGable, if I can be honest here, felt a little like a death. So I went through a mini mourning stage.

Listen, give yourself permission to feel sad or devastated or moody. All those feelings if not addressed will resurface in other and maybe not healthy ways.

I went through my “time of great mourning” as I call it and now I just remember the sweet memories of raising a family in such a wonderful home! And am so grateful.

YOU WILL PROBABLY NEED TO DO A LOT OF DECLUTTERING AND LETTING GO

dining area

Of all the things to know about downsizing this is the one most people want to know about!

Downsizing is often about decluttering and letting go of things. And that can be hard. But it is also SO FREEING!

Look for several posts about the best ways to declutter your home as you get ready to move and what to do with all the stuff you can’t take with you!

In a perfect world, you should start to declutter way before you move. However, that is not always the case, right?

This was the hardest part of our move! Getting rid of 24 years of things I had collected and loved. From my children’s school papers I collected to rooms of furniture that had no home in our new home.

Where to begin can almost be paralyzing for many of us. So start with the right mindset. This is really important!!!!!

I love the adage that asks, “How do you eat an elephant”? The answer is so obvious, “One bite at a time”.

And we should do the same when we let go of things in our homes.

Experts say to start the downsizing process by decluttering and to start small. I think this is very good advice. Start by choosing a room (not the basement, garage, or attic) first and go through closets and drawers and any place that has accumulated stuff!

Work all the living spaces first! Then tackle larger areas like a basement or attic or garage.

When I was getting rid of all the clutter and smaller things in our home I also took a little time to let all the memories soak into my heart. For me, this was important!

But I did not dwell on things for long. My mantra became BE RUTHLESS and kept nothing that I could not use or was not beautiful or did not bring me joy. And most of all I took no clutter to our new home! Or so I thought!

We will talk a lot about downsizing decluttering in future posts. And I’m sure many of you have such great advice and tips!

YOU WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO LET GO OF HOME FURNISHINGS TOO

WHITE BUFFET

This topic goes hand-in-hand with decluttering. Getting rid of home furnishings and whole rooms of furniture is really hard!

And speaking from experience don’t expect your kids to want your stuff! They probably won’t. Today’s young people have a different style and mindset about what they put in their homes.

I have a relative that collected hummels and Lladro figurines. She stuffed hundreds of pieces in china cabinets and many more were spread throughout her large home. When she downsized she took the Lladro with her and wanted her children to take her hummels. Really, none of her children wanted them but a tender-hearted daughter-in-law took her hummels even though she really did not want them.

I know it is hard to see things we think are worth something or so precious to us go but I think it is such a shame to put that burden on our kids!

We will concentrate on this topic later on in our series.

Here is the bottom line when it comes to furniture, lamps, mirrors, art, or any other large furnishings you want to take to a downsized home…

Only take things that will fit into your new living space. And don’t overcrowd your space.

We will have lots to say about this!

FAMILY AND FRIENDS NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU

Family and friends and church family and other people we come in contact with in our world and social lives will need to be told about your decision to downsize.

When to share and how much to share with each person is your decision.

And the people we share our downsizing news with will usually have one of two reactions!

They will be supportive and feel happy for you and may even offer to help or they will be confused and maybe even against your decision.

The first reaction is the one we all hope for and this will make the downsizer’s life a whole lot easier!

The reaction we don’t want to get to our downsizing news is another and much tougher story. It’s best if at all possible, to be sympathetic and listen the concerns of others. In these situations, if you want to preserve your relationships, it is important to muster up as much emotional maturity as you can!

PLANNING YOUR MOVE AND BEYOND IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS

BENCH IN DINING AREA- THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT DOWNSIZING

Know up front that there are going to be a thousand different decisions and tasks and even bumps in the downsizing road! But also know, you will get through all of them and can quickly look forward to enjoying a new home!

Planning is the key to downsizing!

Plan for as much as you can. And be flexible when things don’t go according to your plan!

There you have 10 things to know about downsizing. We will talk about all of them in-depth in upcoming posts.

Now, if you have any tips, advice, or something to say about downsizing we would love to hear from you in the comments.

dining area

31 Comments

  1. I love this downsizing series, and I look forward to future segments. We have been waiting for almost 4 years for the right property to come on the market in a village where our daughter and her family live. We have remained patient through the last several years and lack of housing on the market. My husband was transferred to where we live years ago, and we had only planned to be here about 10 years and then he would retire and we could move back home. Well, life changes, and our daughter became established here, so we stayed. We built a new home and although we enjoy the house we have no emotional attachment to it, nor do we know our neighbors. Everyone keeps to themselves. Moving from our former home in an area we both were raised was difficult. The hardest part was leaving friends and neighbors. I think something to add to the list about downsizing is moving to a walkable community. As we have gotten older we want to be able to walk out our door and go to dinner, get a cocktail, attend a concert, proximity to a walking, trail, shops, and other amenities is high on our list. The traffic in our area has increased tremendously, and as we get older we don’t want to be on the roads as much. We are looking forward to being closer to our young grandchildren, and yes, decorating a new home!!

  2. So very helpful! Thanks for sharing.
    Now please.help.us with an entrance that is only a step.
    I just about have room for a garden stool. What can we use on top or beside the stool?
    Have a lovely wreath on the door and of course the American flag hanging.
    Help with a few.suggestion. Thank you.

  3. Take PHOTOS of all the things you cherished. I once read, it is the MEMORY around the item that you treasure, not the actual thing. So true, so true. The photos are all on my phone and I can look back and relive with joy any time!

  4. After we downsized to our current home, I would often drive by our former home just to see how it looked. It didn’t look much different except for the lawn. My husband was very fussy when it came to his lawn and it always looked perfect. After about 3 years, it went on the market and we were able to see pictures of the inside on Realtor.com. Definitely not my taste and it slowly began not to feel like our old home anymore. One day we got a call from the new buyers. A package was delivered for us after almost 4 years. When we arrived to pick it up, he kindly invited us inside to see what he was doing to his new home. Oh my gosh, it was like a war zone. Every room in that house was under some kind of demolition. But not in a good way! He said he was actually going to put a vinyl floor over the existing hardwood! Then, he proceeded to tell us how he pulled every plant out of the back yard. It was heartbreaking because I had planted so many flowering shrubs and periennials. It looked like an English garden. When we moved, it was the dead of winter and I wasn’t able to take any of my plants. That house didn’t look anything like us anymore. It was the closure we needed to finally let it go. We love our new home, although I do miss not having a dining room. But it is so much easier for us to take care of and maintain. I don’t think I’ve driven by HIS new house again!

  5. We have just started this journey. We were in the military for 37 years. We built what we thought would be our forever home and love it. But we have gotten to the point where we don’t need to have such a large home anymore. We are now building what I hope will be our last move home. We’ve collected some wonderful moments over the years and now having to let go is a part of the process that is hard for me. Thanks for this blog that lets me know I’m not the only one with these feelings.

  6. We amalgamated two homes together when my parents died. Put my parents stuff into storage at the start of the pandemic. Then we totally renovated my parents home for over a year. Instead of downsizing, we added a floor, changed the main floor, made it an open concept and finally moved in. We are still working on the basement, making an apartment for our daughter, the. We will figure out what to get rid of. Downsizing if difficult,I kept some stuff of my parents, gave my kids their stuff, and still have more to do. As we move things around, into the right spot, finish renovating the basement, we will finish downsizing. Life is a process.

  7. This article is so needed! We r early 70’s and downsized after 30 years of life in an 8,000 square ft home on an acre of wooded land with creeks and beautiful gardens that I designed, planted and maintained. Our home sold within 6 hours of being on the market. It had been for sale at 3 other times in our lifetime without an offer. I was not prepared. It was extremely physically and emotionally exhausting for me. My husband had had a very serious 6 hour surgery with 3 surgeons several weeks after our home sold. He did not share my “loss” the move was causing me. I was totally on my own emotionally and physically. My friends and family really didn’t understand.

    One point you addressed which is so important, is the guilt I dealt with as a wife, mother and daughter getting rid of all the memories of my family including my childhood. I had all of my parent’s pictures I stored after their deaths. All those emotions came flooding in with tears. I made piles and let my kids look at the their memories. They took pictures they wanted and wanted nothing of the China, Waterford crystal, etc. We know these are just “things”. . Being Christians, we know so many passages from the Bible that address these “things”…what is really important in our Christian lives. However, it was good to hear you say it is ok to feel the loss.
    Thank you for this series. I have followed you from
    the days of your podcasts.

    1. Thank you ,Yvonne,for this series. We have just completed our downsize move over the course of this past year and it has been quite a bit of work and a lot of fun as well. Our downsize was more about less property and a better home configuration as well as a move to a slightly milder climate closer to family. We decided to look at it as an adventure, having lived in Southeastern PA our entire lives. The most difficult part was leaving our church family and the Pastor who faithfully preached God’s Word . We closed on our home last September, moved in in December and have had the fun of decorating a newer home more suited to aging in place. There may be a few things that I wish I hadn’t sold, but mostly it has been freeing to not have so much stuff. We have,through what I am sure was a “divine appointment”, found a church that is feeling like home and the preaching is wonderful. We are so thankful for God’s provision for us.
      All that to say that it can be done even when you’re heading into your 70’s! We left a 6+ acre property,2500 sq ft farmhouse,barn and outbuildings to move to 1/3 of an acre,3500 sq ft home in a gated community(not 55+ though). We had a lot of stuff! The new house is almost finished as far as renovations go and soon we will be out and about exploring the city,county,and state we now live in.(Williamsburg,VA).

    2. I did not want my children to feel that they had to keep anything of mine. However, they did love the furniture! At least all the new, neutral and from Pottery Barn furniture I gave them.

  8. Downsizing is certainly something I can speak on. It’s a jarring life experience. Letting go of things you’ve love for so long, new surrounds, people, less square footage, feelings of insecurity because of illness. So many emotions. It took me three and a half months to move. Trying to find the right place that fits your lifestyle and needs. I started packing early and going through my things one room at a time. I set up dates with agency’s that would pick large items up, made numerous trips to thrift stores. Had family over to go through things they may want. Make sure you’re departing with things you’re have no regrets over!

  9. Thank you, Yvonne, for bringing this subject to the forefront of people’s lives. You probably have a wide range of ages in your followers…. and I guess a large part are over 50. Let me tell a little of my story. My husband, Martin and I have been married since 1974. I fell for him hard, he was a dashing, charismatic professional golfer from Holland who was playing on the American PGA tour at the time. We were blessed with 2 boys- one who grew up to be a civil engineer and one who is a microbiologist who owns his own food safety testing lab. Life has been good- we have lived in our home since the boys were 8 & 6. It sits on 4.5 acres of woods at the top of a hill right in the middle of a small town in NE Ohio-it was a great place to raise a family. I will turn 69 in July and Martin will turn 83.
    About a year ago, my daughter in law pointed out to me that it was a great time to sell homes, as real estate prices were going crazy. We had been talking about the need to downsize for some time, but didn’t want to leave our beautiful home and the privacy it offered. But golf has taken it’s toll on my husband. He has had 4 back surgeries (2 at the world renown Cleveland Clinic) and still has back problems to this day. He has also had a foot surgery there to totally rebuild one foot arch, so he has been through his share of joint health problems. We knew a year ago that it was time. So I started room by room, then on to the basement and garage, just to get to the point where we could list our home. I had a corporate gift basket business that I ran from my home that I had for 10+ years. After 9/11, corporate gift giving went way down and companies who were my clients started giving to charities because they thought that looked better for them to be doing that, than spending money for lavish gifts. So I have hard goods inventory to liquidate from that venture, along with home decor galore. I am a home decor junkie. That has been the hardest part of my life that I have needed to change. To be willing to part with seasonal home decor. Much of my home decor and business hard goods is liquidated on ebay. So I not only had to clean out my house, I had to do it at the same time I was juggling ebay, and also juggling with caring for my mother who will be 99 in April. We have cared for her for 10+years. So now it is a year later. We listed our home a month ago (FINALLY) and it sold in 6 days for full price. Last November we broke ground for a beautiful ranch home on a nice city lot- about a mile from were we live. It will be ready for us in May.
    Let me tell you, downsizing is now for the faint of heart. It will take every inch of fortitude you can muster. There will be days when you think you simply cannot do this anymore. There will be days that leave you in a heap on the floor, crying your eyes out. I have Pernicious Anemia and thyroid disease, so I struggle with pretty severe fatigue. But get a good night’s sleep, wake up the next day, and start in again. It will never seem like you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but you will. I still have a ways to go- my basement has a lot of items packed up in huge storage bins that still have to be sold on ebay. I still have to find a way to liquidate much of my furniture that I cannot take to the new home. I hope, Yvonne, you can help us all with some ideas about how to accomplish furniture liquidation. And wall artwork- that will be the hard one, because artwork is so personal. That is my story. This journey of downsizing has been one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. This is an important, sanity saving subject that everyone can benefit from. Thank you, Yvonne.

    1. Thanks for telling us your story. You are right, although downsizing is not for the faint of heart it is wonderful when it is over and we live in a home or area we love.

  10. I had no problem moving as we were a military family that moved every 2/3 years. I had no problem getting rid of “stuff” because I’ve done it several times over the years. What took me by surprise was the day we were moving what I had picked to bring to our new, downsized home, I sat on the floor and cried. Like a baby. Going from big family homes to a great room rancher had me stumped. Where do I put everything and how do you decorate one big space? I had a good cry, put my big girl panties on, and got to work. It took time and trial and error to get it right. Now I would not have it any other way. It’s a more casual, relaxed way of styling and fits our current lifestyle.

  11. I am so happy to see you discussing downsizing. My husband and I are starting that process and it is overwhelming. I’m starting to go through things but that is overwhelming. I’m looking at different condos and trying to get a feel what might work for us. It’s very hard. I look forward to continuing to follow you! Not just for decorating now!

  12. Yvonne, I am really enjoying this series. So much of what you are saying tugs at my heart. I look forward to Mondays so I can learn more. I truly think you should put this important information into a book or workbook. The information you are sharing is so helpful. Thanks so much.

  13. Honestly, I was so tired of moving and good byes and losses I was exhausted. As the kids moved out tto college or homes, what did they want, what should we keep for the next one? Now it is time for another cleaning out. I am not looking forward t.o it. Before the attic, one room at a time. I don’tt know how you did it. But if it;s time and we muct, we will.

  14. Thank you sooooo much for this important series!! I had to go through my childhood home when my mother required assistive living. What I had thought was a neat house was actually the home of a secret hoarder:) My mother never threw out old pantry items, plastic bags, bills, greeting cards, you name it. She was in her house for 45 years! Needless to say, it was a huge undertaking for me, accompanied by a lot of tears. What it taught me is that I don’t want to leave a mess like that to my sons. I try to remember that daily, and am continually decluttering. It has become a lifestyle and I know it will help when we downsize.

  15. Thank you for continuing this topic on downsizing! I so looked forward to Thursdays with your initial 3-part downsizing story. Everytime I read it, I feel a gentle nudge to move into a decluttering mode. I am slowly going about it and I am pleased when I open a cabinet that has been decluttered. Please continue this important topic. Oh, and is your relative with those Hummels related to my family? I laughed as I read that story and thought of my dear late mother and her collection.

  16. Great article and series on down or right sizing. I have been on a quest to continue sorting & purging throughout our home of 30 years. Kids, all but one, are out on their own. I can clear out clutter, but my husband CANNOT PART WITH ANYTHING. I don’t know what it will be like when he has to start that process.
    My FIL is 84 and in the selling stage,no longer collecting….and has a trove of stuff, collectibles plus. He has enlisted the help of new grandson-in law to sell some of his collection on ebay 😄 as he knows the value, can describe it & know what it should bring. My husband has no interest in this collection,but would never sell if it were left up to him to dispose of.
    Looking forward to more on this subject & thanks for sharing your journey.

  17. Your downsizing series is so helpful. I’ve read all the comments from your followers who too have gone through this process.
    My husband and I have moved numerous times, cleaned out and sold our parents’ homes of 65 years of living in one house, built a home to better take care of an aging parent, moved to a beautiful lake lot home and community with an amazing view of the North GA mountains. Now, we are in our early 70’s. Our floor plan is perfect and gives us the ability to live on the main floor with two masters on the main never having to go upstairs or downstairs, but the cost of living here both maintaining this property at this stage of our life and the financial requirements are beginning to be worrisome. In addition, we like to travel as long as we are physically able. I realize we cannot predict the future, whether it is our health, or the economy, the real estate market, the cost of daily living, the decisions of those leading our government, all contribute to the decision to downsize in addition to sifting through all our belongings.

    We are Christians who love our church. We are thankful God has put us there for such a time as this. I have been praying about a move and have asked our Lord to guide this path as we anticipate this change. Letting go of this “control” to know exactly where to go is difficult, as we love our home, but at the same time freeing.

    Thanks for your and your readers input. I looking forward to gleaning the advice. It is so pertinent to us and appreciated. Thank you.

    Blessings,
    Vicki
    Ps. Have read your blog a long time and love it.

  18. I live in a small house, and in just living here I have to keep less stuff! I had held onto items I felt attached to, in that I had spent money on something that just didn’t work here or used to work in other places, but not here and not now. I collected 21 boxes in one year of stuff to donate. I only really remember and regret donating one item among all that stuff. I do not even remember what all was in those boxes! I ended up wishing I had done that donating years ago! It looks better here with less. Once I donated, my house had its true style left and it also even had its best color scheme! The “stuff” muffled it! I am still in process in some areas of the house. People sometimes buy a bigger house just to store having more stuff, and they still aren’t content. The clutter has moved with them.

    I had a moment of recognition when my neighbor told me he was envious of the spacious feeling of how my deck looks and that I have a garage. He moved to his house the same week I did mine. He has added clutter and stuff to his outdoor spaces where it looked nice until he had time to add clutter. He said to me he hates his house. Not enough room and he regrets not buying bigger so he had more room for his stuff. My feeling is he would only clutter a larger home, too. I am not judging him for it, just I know he made his pretty home less attractive, and I have never been inside it, but his home on the porches is very messy. My house is actually smaller than his is, but not messy outside on my deck or porch. Being less messy was free! I like spacious spots, too. I never wanted a certain size house as thinking of it to store “stuff.”. Certainly a home was an essential, but I did not want if I were cluttery for my clutter to determine the house for me. I wanted the home to be right because God picked it for us. It is possible to be more content with less stuff. Letting go of stuff we can end up more satisfied even though we may worry we will be LESS content. I am still letting things go. I also do not want shortcut temporary stuff. I want the higher quality but less items.

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