Mark Roemer image of a person sitting in the middle of a big room of boxes

Downsizing 101: How to Do It the Right Way

I, Mark Roemer Oakland, believe that downsizing your home can offer you a lot of financial and practical benefits, especially if there is a lot of unused space in your current house. Generally, downsizing makes sense for seniors who don’t live with their children anymore but have a large house. However, it also makes sense for small families, especially during hard financial situations.

The Discussion

Now, downsizing a home involves a lot of work including decluttering, organizing, packing, and moving all your belongings to a new home. It can indeed seem like a challenging task if you don’t have a plan in place. Here is a guide to downsizing your home the right way:

1. Set a schedule for yourself – It is recommended that you start downsizing your home as soon as possible to focus on other important tasks when necessary. Generally, it is a good idea to start downsizing your home at least 3 months before you plan to move out of the house.

Now, there are different organizational methods you can follow to maintain a balanced workflow and avoid overworking or stressing yourself. Here are a few popular methods you can follow:

  • KonMari method – In this method, you prioritize the decluttering process according to the category of your belongings. Going from the highest priority to the lowest priority, you have to declutter your clothes, papers/books, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items.
  • One-a-day method – Just like it sounds, you have to get rid of at least one item a day when you follow this method. However, if you have too many things that you need to get rid of in your home, it is recommended you set a fixed number of items to remove every day.

2. Take inventory of all your belongings – People accumulate a ton of items over the years and many of them remain stored in boxes or storage shelves never to be used again. Without proper knowledge of all your belongings, it can be difficult to plan for downsizing. That’s why it is important to sort all your items and organize them by their respective category, condition, and priority.

Once you have taken inventory of your belongings, the next step is to separate the aspirational items from the items that you really require. That means you should probably get rid of things that you have not used since last year or longer.

3. Measure the dimensions of the new space – Now, before you actually decide which items and furniture to keep, it is essential to measure your new space if possible including the square footage and the shape of each room. Once you have the exact measurements of each room in the new apartment or home, you would be able to decide whether you could keep a few large pieces of furniture or have to replace them with smaller alternatives.

4. Focus on one room at a time – The best way to declutter your home is to sort through the items room by room and minimize duplicates. If you focus on randomly clearing items from different rooms, it will make your job harder.

We recommend you follow the ‘Three-Box Method’ to make decisions item by item. It’s a simple approach where you have to get three types of boxes or bins and label them ‘get rid of’, ‘keep’, and ‘put in storage’. Your ‘keep’ boxes should include all the items that you use on a daily basis.

Seasonal or sentimental items should be put in storage boxes. And anything that you don’t use or have no use for anymore should go to the last box. This means this box will include duplicate items as well.

5. Plan how you want to get rid of unwanted items – Now, once you have determined which items have no space in your new home, it is time to decide how you want to get rid of them.

Here are a few approaches you can follow:

  • Donate – You can donate non-sentimental items that you don’t need but are in good condition to local charities or nonprofits for a good cause. You can donate anything from common household items to clothing, shoes, and more.
  • Consider a yard sale – If you have high-value items that you cannot take with you to your new house, it makes sense to sell them for some extra money. So, it is a good idea to host a yard sale and sell books, toys, tools, equipment, and other such items.

    Alternatively, you can browse online marketplaces such as Craigslist, eBay, OfferUp, and more to sell your belongings online. Just ensure you follow the proper fraud prevention precautions before doing any transaction.
  • Pass down to loved ones – You may have uncovered a lot of sentimental items that you cannot take to your new home but cannot sell or donate either. Now, you can memorialize sentimental items by taking pictures of them and writing descriptions of them that help to evoke a strong nostalgic memory.

    However, you can also pass such items to your loved ones and family members who will preserve them with the same integrity.
  • Throw away – Many old items won’t be in a good enough condition for you to sell or donate them. In such cases, your only option is to throw them away safely by renting a dumpster.

6. Digitize old documents – It is not uncommon to gather a lot of paper clutter over the years such as important documents, old bills, receipts, or more. You never know when you might need them but it can be unsettling to simply throw away the old papers.

A quick solution is to digitize the records by clicking a high-quality picture of them. The same principle can be applied to converting old VHS tapes, CDs, and DVDs. You can convert them into digital files to preserve them and save space.


I, Mark Roemer Oakland, suggest you consider your lifestyle when you have to decide which belongings to keep and which ones to discard. For instance, you can consider your top hobbies or activities that you like to explore, any opportunities that downsizing will create, your top reasons for downsizing, and more to make a suitable decision that you will not regret in the future.