Most would agree that planning to downsize or facing a major downsizing move can leave you a little stressed out! Plenty of people are overwhelmed by the thought. After all, making a move is stressful enough, plus you may have to reduce your belongings by 80% or more. However, our experience tells us that a good jumping off point can make it easy to get going.
What makes it easier to jump off and get going? Planning to Downsize, with an emphasis on the plan!
We see lots of people jump right in and start hauling stuff to the donation center when they are planning to downsize. While that’s fine, and can make you feel productive, we actually recommend a strategic plan that is based on both your goals and your abilities.
We encourage downsizers to determine what will likely be the best order in which to tackle your move, and then also consider your personal work style when you’re planning to downsize. Once you’ve thought through these variables, you’ll be on your way to having a solid plan and approach that works for you.
Planning to Downsize
Planning the Order of Operations
The first step to any plan is to determine your order of operations, as this becomes your springboard for everything else that happens. There are several scenarios that we commonly see with our downsizing clients, and there’s no one way to do it! Choosing a manageable plan to fit your specific needs is key to a smooth transition.
The “Stay to the Bitter End” Scenario
Here’s the traditional scenario: you begin by paring down possessions to bare minimum, put your house on the market, and move before closing. While this is fairly common and may work for some, it can create undue stress to be present throughout the entire ordeal, especially while you dispose of unwanted property and wait for your house to sell. On the flip side, it makes the overlap smaller when you stay in your house until the very end, which can be easier on your wallet.
Some people really enjoy living through the process, and see it as cathartic. However, if that doesn’t sound like you, there are other options!
The “Move and Edit” Scenario
Another common option is to start by sorting through belongings, change residence, rid yourself of unwanted items, then sell. Essentially, you take only what you want in your new home, and leave the rest to dispose of later. We really like this model because you can edit your decisions as you go. Since you’re not living in the home you’re leaving during the later steps, it can be easier on you since you don’t have to hang around for the messiness.
However, this is only an attractive option if you have the means to move out before you sell.
The “Strategic Delay” Scenario
This last alternative is for those who aren’t ready to buy a new home quite yet. The strategy here is to separate only your bare essentials, move all other effects to storage, and find temporary housing while you wait for your current home to sell. With a longer lead time and the current climate, this option can be great, especially if you’re itching to get on with it, want to take advantage of the real estate market, or just want a change in scenery.
While there are more steps involved, this option has the greatest flexibility, and gives you an opportunity to visit family, take an extended trip, or hole up in a cozy short-term rental while you search for the perfect new home. This definitely isn’t for everyone, but for those with an intrepid sense of adventure, this can be an exciting option.
More than likely, one of these scenarios will sound better, or more like “you” than the others. Feel free to mix and match ideas, but try to commit to an order of operations and start making decisions based on the plan.
Having an effective plan from the beginning is important because the path you choose will inform your overall approach. However, another important thing to keep in mind while determining your move strategy is your personal work style.
How Do You Approach Projects?
Do you savor a big project and want to take your time, breaking the work into manageable tasks as you go? Or, maybe you’d rather go about your usual routine, saving all the hard work for the end? Either approach is fine; we even appreciate a hybrid of the two! Whether your preference is now or later, knowing your personal work style is important because it can help you get the pieces in place to make the most of your move.
The Tortoise Approach
The “get ‘er done” option is appealing because it means you could arrive at your new home with nothing more to do than unpacking. In order to effectively work this way, you’ve got to dedicate blocks of time to the project beyond your normal routine in order to accomplish everything. You may want to go so far as to make a master to-do list, and schedule time on your calendar to work on specific tasks to ensure you get things done in a timely manner. As attractive as this may sound, for people with busy schedules, this option may not be on the table.
The Hare Approach
A “play now, work later” approach may be more alluring if taking a few days to knock everything out at once sounds more manageable than dedicating daily time to your project. However, this work style can come with problems if you don’t accurately estimate the amount of time the project will take. Having to rush to get things done can lead to loose ends, slapdash work, and even accidents. To avoid this, you may want to factor in added time for hiccups, arrange for plenty of help, and maybe even outsource some of the work.
The Hybrid Approach
If you don’t lean heavily one way or another, perhaps a hybrid work style is better for you. An approach where you take care of the most important tasks in the early stages and leave the dirty work for later may be the best of both worlds. This can look like taking time to properly organize photos, artifacts, and other items of great monetary or sentimental value throughout the initial steps in your plan, then worrying about tasks like donating unwanted items at the end.
Whatever combination of planning and work style you bring to the table, Remember these key things: take your time, do it right, and most importantly: try to have a little fun with it!