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Declutter before you downsize

Date Posted: April 6, 2022

Declutter before you downsize

Moving into a more compact home can feel freeing. Even the decluttering can be freeing, with the right approach.


Begin decluttering at least three months ahead and avoid a last-minute rush.

Start by considering your new home:

  • How many rooms will you have?
  • What furniture will fit into them?
  • Does it have storage space?

Then see what you already have:

  • Make an inventory of your belongings
  • What furniture fits the space available?
  • Where will your ‘essentials’ go?

And think of your future:

  • What hobbies/activities/work will continue?
  • What activities will no longer be part of your lifestyle?

The Declutter

Once you know these basics, you can assess your belongings one room at a time (that’s why you start three months ahead). Using boxes will keep everything neat!

Box 1: Get in the Bin

Chuck broken appliances and other damaged items. Be stern with old papers. Generally, keep personal tax records for five years. Take a shredder to the rest and to old bills. Expired medication and foodstuffs can go, too.  Hire a skip and feel the joy of lobbing the bread maker that broke in 2002 alongside the collapsed chairs and all those ancient magazines.

Box 2: Out It Goes

In good nick but you just don’t use it? Box it up for the op-shop, garage sale, eBay, Gumtree or donation. Some of those things are more work than others, so decide how much effort you want to go to and organise things as soon as you can. It’ll feel good to, as the song says, “let it goooooooooo.”

Box 3: Keep

Keep things you use regularly or that have strong sentimental value. If you still have more things than will fit your new home, revisit the box. Maybe other family members would treasure heirlooms for which you no longer have the room.

BOX 4: Store

Store the rarely used items like seasonal clothing or festive decorations. Decide whether as-needed hiring is better.

Digital Declutter

Some items you can keep in a different format!

  • Documents and photos can be scanned. Get a digital photo frame for your favourites!
  • Save CDs as digital files or subscribe to a music streaming service.
  • Sign up for a video streaming services to get rid of all but your rarest DVDs.

Plan your declutter, give yourself time, and soon you’ll have a new, downsized home full of things that only bring joy!

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Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash