Moving to a smaller place? Over time, we tend to accumulate stuff. We have drawers full of stuff and furniture we don’t really need but keep “just in case” and items that we’ve had for years may be difficult to part with due to nothing more than familiarity while serving no functional purpose.

1. Assess your actual needs: Deciding what you really need requires a good long look at how you live your life daily and prioritizing the activities and items that are already a part of your actual lifestyle--not those activities or items that you want to be part of your lifestyle, but haven't gotten around to yet.

  • Take a walk through your house or apartment and evaluate everything you come across (furniture, books, food, etc.). Ask yourself if you've used it in the past year and, if so, how often? Be honest with yourself. If you think you could live well without it, out the door it should go.
  • We keep things around "just in case", make room for the things you'll actually use.
  • For stuff that you really have a hard time getting rid of, make this agreement with yourself: Put the items in storage. If you don't need or use them within 6 months, give, sell or throw them away.

2. Go through your home, every cabinet, shelf and closet should be cleared: Only put back the things you couldn't live well without. Put the items you don’t use in boxes or bags in a garage or other storage area

3. Measure your furniture: You will need to know how your furniture will (or won’t) fit into your new space - particularly large items such as your sofa and your bed - so measure everything.

You will also need to get the room measurements of your new space. Ask if you can take measurements or if there is a floor plan available to you. Don’t forget about the location of doors and windows as this will be a factor in furniture placement. Once you have these measurements, make a floor plan using your furniture’s measurements. This will give you a much better idea on what you can keep and what will have to go.

4. Assess your new storage areas: Do not overestimated the amount of storage space. While you’re getting room measurements, make sure to properly assess the storage situation you’ll be inheriting. Will you have fewer kitchen cupboards? How many closets will you have? If you are moving into an apartment, does it have a storage locker and, if so, what are its dimensions?

Assessing exactly how much of the new space is dedicated to storage will give you and idea of the volume of items you need to dispose of before moving in. If you place a lot of items above the kitchen cabinets in your current home, for example, find out if the cupboards in the new place have storage in that area as well.

5. Ransack your old storage areas: Go through your storage areas first (attics, basements, closets, etc). You will be surprised to find out what you’ve put away instead of gotten rid of. If you’re like most of us, you will find boxes of items that haven’t seen the light of day for years and there’s a reason for this: you don’t need them. Get rid of them at once. Hesitation will only melt your resolve.

  • Bathroom cabinets, kitchen and “junk” drawers have a tendency to accumulate unnecessary items in these places. Get rid of empty bottles, balls of twine, expired medicines and beauty products.
  • How you dispose of these unnecessary items will depend on how much energy and/or time you have. The easiest thing to do is to load them up and drop them off at the nearest thrift shop.
  • Join a Freecycle group to give stuff away
  • If you live in an apartment building or townhouse complex, notice boards and drop off areas for giving unwanted items to neighbours is sometimes provided.
  • Call up your friends and relatives and see what they need. You may be able to enlist their help in the move for a promised dresser/bed/armchair!

6. Sell your stuff:

  • For a large number of items, have a yard sale (or a series of yard sales).
  • Utilize sites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook groups and eBay to sell off the best stuff. Make sure to take good quality photos of the items and offer good descriptions.
  • Used designer clothing can be resold in consignment shops. Be sure to shop around. Some stores offer better rates than others.

7. Get organized: Before you move into your new place, it’s a good time to work out some storage solutions for your stored items. You can do this as you pack. Place your storage items in decorative storage boxes that can be moved and placed in the new storage areas without much effort. Plastic bins are great for moving and storing, come in many sizes, are stackable, and the see-through ones make finding what you need easier. The measurements taken of the new storage areas will ensure a good fit. Come moving day, these boxes will be much easier to deal with. Label everything by room.

8. Move large items first: Move your furniture into your new home first. You will have the most energy for this task at the beginning of the move and it will also give you a better indication of where the smaller things will go. Do not merely fill a room with furniture with the idea of sorting it all out later. Place furniture in the rooms as you go, according to the plan you made earlier.

9. Put away storage items: Contained items that are meant for storage can be placed directly in their allotted spaces where they will be out of the way. By putting these things away as you move in, you’ll be saving yourself the stress of trying to maneuver through tiny, packed rooms during the next few days.

10. Organize boxed items: Your labeled boxes can now be put into their respective rooms and the unpacking can begin. Begin with the bathroom, as that is the room most likely to be needed immediately. If you have only kept the basics, unpacking this room will be a breeze.

11. Organize your space as you unpack: Utilize closet and cupboard storage solutions as you unpack. This way, more can be stored in these tight spaces and you will be setting a precedent for how your new, smaller space will be used. 

12. Relax and enjoy! You have now entered the realm of living small. You no longer have to worry about the financial burden or time draining tasks of maintaining a home too big for your needs and you have simplified your life by surrounding yourself with only those things that are most important to you. 

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