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How to Downsize Your Home Before a Move

Moving costs are based largely on weight and volume. Bigger households require bigger vans and larger crews, not to mention more time, fuel, and energy. Because it costs much less to relocate a small household than a large one, getting rid of unwanted or unused belongings is one of the easiest ways to save on relocation costs. Sorting through your belongings can be time-consuming, so follow these simple strategies to downsize your home before a move.

Couple packing kitchen items for a move

Start Early

Downsizing your home can't be done overnight. Cataloging your possessions is a complex process. You not only need to go through every room and storage cupboard, you also need to decide what to do with the items you find. Budgeting your time helps keep the process from becoming overwhelming. In some cases, people begin before they’ve even finalized their moving date.

Measure Your Furniture

Before you begin downsizing, compare the layout of your new home to your current one. You may have less floor space to work with, or the same space distributed differently. You may have a larger living room, but no attached garage. Perhaps your washer and dryer have to be stored in a closet instead of a basement. Windows and doors may not be configured the way they were in your old bedroom, which means it may be too crowded for a bookcase or dresser. Measuring your furniture tells you which of your big items will fit in your new house and which will have to be left behind.

Go Room By Room

Inventorying your home is a huge project. Instead of trying to do it all at once, break it down into smaller steps. Cataloging a room is a lot easier than an entire house. For large storage rooms, like attics or basements, consider breaking it down further. First the boxes on the right side, then the boxes on the left. Sometimes, it’s more efficient to go by category. Your children's clothes one day and your clothes the next. Alleviate stress by creating a schedule and working systematically through the contents of each room.

Stick to the 12-Month Rule

The 12-month rule is a simple guideline that helps you decide what’s worth keeping and what isn’t, namely anything you haven’t used in the last year. The rule's not absolute, of course. Some items, like heirlooms and souvenirs, have value even if you haven’t taken them out in a while. But when it comes to books, movies, games, gadgets, and clothing, the 12-month rule will help identify which items you truly can’t live without.

Digitize Photos and Documents

Photographs contain priceless memories, but photo albums take up a lot of space. Consider scanning old photos onto your computer. Storing them on a digital device makes them easier to access and less burdensome to store. The same is true for old documents. Instead of keeping them locked in a heavy filing cabinet, scan them into your computer.

Ditch Duplicate Items

Dishes, glasses, towels, blankets, forks, spoons, shoes, power cables ‒ there are a lot of duplicate items around your home. Of course, large families need multiples of certain items, dishes and towels, for instance. But consider how often do you cycle through your dishware and glassware? How many dry towels do you go through between laundry days?

How often do you plug in your power cords? Do you really need two pairs of boots, or can you get by with one? Keep in mind that “one,” doesn’t just apply to items, but also categories. You might only need one pair of dress shoes, one pair of sneakers, and one pair of sandals. The same goes for kitchen utensils: one spatula, one soup ladle spoon, one frying pan. Paring your belongings down to the bare essentials ensures everything you take is something you really need.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Moving to a new home often entails a new way of life. In the process of opening up new opportunities, some old activities might get left behind. People moving from a cold climate to a warm one don’t need scarves and snow boots. People moving from the forest to the desert can leave their rakes and leaf blowers behind. 

Homeowners moving to the country might not entertain as much as they did in the city. Going from the beach to the mountains might mean less time in sandals. When downsizing your home, take a moment to consider what life will be like in your new city to help figure out what you’ll need to take with you.

Create a Plan for Unwanted Items

Once you’ve decided which items are coming with you, you’ll need a plan for what to do with the ones you’re leaving behind. Not everything deserves to be thrown away. In fact, most of it can be given a new home. Consider:

  • Donating to Charity. Contact local organizations in your area and see if they have any use for your unwanted items. Even a small donation could make a world of difference.
  • Holding a Yard Sale. Selling off unneeded belongings is a great way to declutter your home and make a few bucks at the same time.
  • Giving Items to Family and Friends. There’s a good chance you already know someone who could use a few things in your home. Reach out to friends and family members to see if there’s anything they’d like to take off your hands.

North American Moving Services

No matter how big your household, North American Van Lines makes your move as smooth as possible. For over 90 years, we’ve been helping people relocate both locally and long-distance. Our agents tailor plans to each customer, letting you choose which services best suit your needs and your budget. From logistics to packing to shipping to final delivery and storage, there’s nothing we can’t help organize. Call today for a free quote!