Easy downsizing tips that give you a head start

Is downsizing in your future? It might sound easy but deciding what stays and what goes into your next stage of life can get overwhelming pretty quick. Life events that require downsizing like empty nesting or retirement can be planned for, but others like relocations or military moves cannot. That’s why it’s a good idea to channel your inner Marie Kondo and figure out what sparks joy and what does not.

Here are a few tips I like to share with clients and friends here in Arlington, Virginia, that are perfect for organizing and downsizing at any time of life:

#1 Tackle those mystery boxes

Random boxes seem to follow homeowners throughout their lives. Dusty, shoved to the back of closets and storage rooms, filled with mystery and who-knows-what. Everybody has them, I’m sure you do too. Tackling these boxes, one at a time, is a great way to get a jump start on downsizing.

If you haven’t opened a box in years, now is the time. Take it out of storage, dust it off, and carefully open it up. You might find childhood keepsakes, hand-me-down clothing, housewares from your college apartment days, or treasured family albums and journals. Some of these items should be sorted and set aside for keeping. But items that you never knew existed until now, and probably won’t miss, should be donated or disposed of.

#2 Let go of nostalgia but keep the memories

A lot of the “stuff” that accumulates in homes is kept for nostalgia’s sake. Downsizing means that space is limited, so it’s important to differentiate between things you need and love versus things that are just memories in the form of dusty junk. Memories are meant to be treasured, though, so here’s what to do:

Take photos, write down your memories, and create an album (digital or physical) of beloved belongings that you can always have with you without taking up all the room. Now it will be much easier to donate or discard these items without feeling like you’re turning your back on important and memorable moments of your life.

#3 Edit and put an expiration date on the extras

Downsizing is about learning to live more simply, which means getting rid of the extras that can accumulate during years of homeownership. Go room by room and clean out closets, shelves, cabinets and dressers of belongings you don’t need, never use, or maybe even forgot about.

That part is easy, but what often happens next is that many people put the items they’ve cleaned out but want to donate or recycle to others into bags or boxes that get moved into storage rooms or garages and then forgotten again. You can avoid this issue by giving each box an expiration date. Write the recipient’s name and expiration date on it. Let them know that if they want these items, they have to pick up by the date. After that, all items are donated.

#4 Work with a Realtor who understands your needs

If you are thinking of downsizing in the Arlington, Virginia area, be sure to work with an experienced Realtor who will take the time to understand your vision and help you with everything from finding the right home to navigating the timing of your transition. If you have questions about downsizing or moving to Arlington or nearby please give me a call at 703-593-6320, I’m here to help!