Downsizing the home, lessons learned to help you move on

Downsizing the home

Practicalities and emotions don't always go happily hand in hand. You know you have to downsize and move to a smaller space and take less possessions with you, but where do you start with what to keep, what to sell and what to throw or give away?

Often it is not your possessions your are downsizing but those of a loved one - an ageing parent or dealing with a deceased estate.

Two women in the US, Janet Hulstrand and Linda Hetzer have gone so far as to write one of the most comprehensive and practical guides,on this after helping their fathers move out of the houses they had lived in for several decades to apartments. The blog has been so successful and the task was so overwhelming they have gone on to write a book, Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.


  • Do we need this space anymore?
  • Are we really using all of these things?
  • Has the joy gone from having such a large space?
  • Are we ready to let go?



Throwing things away (other than obvious trash, such as spoiled food in the refrigerator and burned-out light bulbs) should not be your first step. The first step is to sort, and as you’re sorting, consult with each other about what to do with it all.
If you will be holding an estate sale or auction at your house, ask a couple of professionals to come in and evaluate the estate before you start throwing items out or hauling them away. Part of their professional expertise is in knowing what kinds of “worthless” items can actually be worth a little, or a lot. It is surprising, to say the least, to learn what kinds of items can actually be big sellers at estate sales.
Money, important papers, and other treasures are often found hidden within stacks of papers, inside seemingly “empty” envelopes, in the pages of books, in the pockets of clothing, and in other unlikely spots.
Many things tossed willy-nilly into the Dumpster—from old Christmas cards and maps to sewing machine manuals and sales receipts—could be of interest to your local historical society.

If you are really not sure if you are ready to let go, a good option can be to rent a storage unit while you make decisions, remove yourself emotionally and don't have regrets.