Real life learnings from a Houlihan Lawrence client on what to do - and what not to do when preparing for a move to a smaller space.
If you live in a home for more than 10 years you tend to accumulate many more things than you realize.
When my long-standing clients decided to downsize, they struggled with what to do with all of the furniture and “stuff” that had accumulated over their years with their two daughters and two dogs.
They’ve kindly shared their lessons learned for how best to plan before and after a downsize move:
1. Start purging items you know you will not take with you as soon as you decide to move. Start a year in advance and do weekly declutters.
2. Try to avoid relying on a remote storage unit as a crutch for the things you don’t take with you, sell or give away. The cost of storage for 3 years could easily pay for new furniture.
3. Memorabilia. Everyone collects memories—souvenirs, cards, awards, old theater tickets and more. Take photos or scan them and save these memories digitally. You don’t need the “physical objects” to remember places you have visited or special events.
4. Don’t save stuff for your grown kids, they don’t want it. It’s sad but true—that dining room set you couldn’t part with won’t be right for their lifestyle or yours. Give them first dibs but don’t expect takers.
5. Get professional help for sorting, organizing and selling your “stuff”. The cost is a small percentage of the house proceeds and will be well worth it in the long run.
6. Charity organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters or Vietnam Veterans of America will gladly pick up and cart away almost anything for free and they put it to good use.
7. Purge clothing you don’t use.
8. Map out the floorplans in your new home so that you can fit the furniture you want to take. There are free online programs to help layout furniture…search for “best apps for planning a room layout and design”.
9. Photo Memories. You may come across boxes of old photos from parents and grandparents; outdated formats such as 35mm negatives and 8mm movies; or digital photos scattered on PC’s, phones, flash drives, cloud services - total photo chaos. Make a project of scanning and organizing all of it digitally. Shot and catalog your belongings for memories and for insurance purposes. You can hire a professional photo organizer to guide you with this process!
10. Remember, no matter how much you get rid of, after the downsizing there will still be more – so don’t be conservative about how you do this. And make room for your new adventure and lifestyle. Let it go!
My client David Saias is a professional photo organizer. He is the owner of Sayess Photo Organizers www.sayessphotos.com which helps clients organize and preserve their photo archives so that they can easily reference and present their collection of photos from any media.
Susan Strawgate Code is an award winning Associate Real Estate Broker in the Briarcliff Manor office of Houlihan Lawrence. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 914-762-7200