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Downsizing Tips to Help You Downsize Your Home

These ten downsizing tips will show you how to downsize your home by decluttering and simplifying the process.


What is Downsizing?

Downsizing is to make something smaller, so people who downsize their home usually go from a bigger house to a smaller one, or they may go from a more expensive house to a less expensive home.

Why Do People Downsize Their Homes?

People downsize for various reasons. Most often, we hear clients want to downsize to:

  • save money
  • get rid of stairs
  • have less to maintain
  • get rid of unused space

Downsizing often happens when people become “empty-nesters,” near retirement, or experience a significant loss or life change.

People also choose to downsize to free up cash to do things like travel or pay off debt.

Downsizing Tips & Quotes

The process of downsizing your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming or put off for another day. You can start decluttering and simplifying your home today! It takes most people around three months, so it’s best to start using the downsizing tips below earlier than later.

The main thing to keep in mind throughout the downsizing process is in order to fit in a smaller space, you’ll probably need to have much less stuff.

“Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor – it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.”


1. Visualize Your End Goal

Yes, the second of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will help you downsize your home! If you consider your end goal and work backward, you’ll be able to begin each day or task with a vision of your desired path.

For example, you may want to have your house decluttered and ready to sell by spring, so you can downsize into a smaller home this summer.

Having your end destination in mind will help you start and stick with your downsizing endeavor.

“Picture your dream home. I bet it’s not filled with clutter.”


2. Start Small

It helps to get the ball rolling by decluttering one small space.

Small spots in the home that tend to accumulate unnecessary stuff include:

  • Closets
  • Spare rooms
  • Junk drawers
  • Laundry rooms
  • Bathroom cabinets or closets
  • Smaller sections in the basement
  • Outdoor sheds
  • Garages

Working on smaller parts of your home can prevent burnout from trying to downsize your entire home at once.

“Your home is a living space, not a storage space.”


3. Break It Down

Based on your ideal timeline, break down the goal of downsizing your home into smaller, more manageable chunks, such as:

  • One room per day
  • One closet in the morning and another closet in the afternoon
  • One drawer or cabinet each evening after work

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you try to tackle too much at once.

By mapping out your downsizing project with your ideal timeline, you can see what you need to do each day (and you can rest knowing tomorrow’s project can wait until tomorrow.)

Read how to stage a house while living in it if you need to sell your current home.

4. Stay Focused

You’re going to be tempted to jump from one area to another as you downsize. It really helps to exercise your self-discipline muscle and focus on one area of your home until it’s complete.

Consider writing down your “Big Win” or “Top 3” goals for the day on a calendar, planner, whiteboard, or sticky note. Stick to your most important project(s) for the day, so you get things done. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bunch of half-started projects.

Yep, this sounds a lot like Covey’s 3rd habit: Put First Things First!

“When you’re surrounded by clutter, it is impossible to have clarity about what you are doing in life.”


5. Use 4-Categories: Keep, Give, Sell, Toss

Many people who downsize find success with the 4-categories system.

  1. Keep the things you regularly use and have space for in your downsized space.
  2. Give Away or Donate everything in good condition that you don’t want to sell.
  3. Sell things in great condition that are worth the time & energy to sell (optional)
  4. Toss or Recycle everything else (broken, stained, missing parts, etc.)

It helps to designate different areas of your home for each of these categories.

Toss or recycle items in this category immediately, so you start to see the downsizing progress! If you have a lot of stuff to get rid of, consider renting a dumpster.

“Owning less is better than organizing more.



“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”


6. Keep Only Useful or Beautiful Things

Keep items that have proven to be useful or beautiful. Ask yourself:

  1. Have I used this in the last 12 months?
  2. Do I know I’ll need this in the next 12 months?
  3. Is this beautiful?

Keeping things “just in case I need them someday” is how our homes get full of stuff in the first place. So for the items you’ve kept because you just might need them someday, ask yourself:

  • Could I easily replace it for less than $20 (or $50)?
  • Could I borrow one from a neighbor, family, or friend?

Let go of things you don’t use, especially if you can easily replace or borrow them if you need them someday.

“A home that is filled only with things you love and use will be a home that you love to use.”


7. Sell or Give: Win-Win!

Too often we get attached to things and only consider the loss. But what about the gain? Selling or giving items can be a win-win (another effective habit from Covey)!

When you sell an item, you open up space in your home. Plus, you’ll have cash rather than another thing you don’t need or love.

Consider selling items on Facebook marketplace, local buy & sell groups, Craigslist, or holding an estate sale.

If you decide to give items to someone or donate them, you can relish in the endorphins from giving to others–while getting closer to your downsizing goal.

“Some things cost way more when we keep them.”


8. Measure Your New Space

If you know the space you’re downsizing into, measure your furniture to see what will physically fit in your next home.

Common questions to consider are:

  • Will your couch & all the living room furniture fit in your next living room?
  • Do you have space for all your tables, dressers, chairs, & bookshelves?
  • Will all your bedroom furniture fit?
  • Do you have room for all those totes?
  • Will your furniture fit through the doors and stairwells?

Furniture is one of the easier things to sell. You could also donate or give quality items to family or friends. People buying their first home or living on a tight budget typically appreciate good hand-me-down furniture.

“It’s better to have extra time on your hands and extra money in your pocket than extra stuff in your closet.”

9. The Downsizing Jingle

Ever heard the jingle from Daniel Tiger to help children end something fun?

🎶 That was fun, but now it’s done! 🎶

This is a great downsizing tip too!

You may need to pause and appreciate items before parting with them. They served their time, but there’s no room in the next chapter of your life.

“You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.”


10. Allow Someone to Help

We know it can be stressful to downsize, especially if you’re trying to buy and sell at the same time.

Bring in a friend or professional to help if you find downsizing your home or any particular area is too much to handle.

Professional organizers, like the one used in this success story, can be well worth the money if:

  • You’re having a hard time getting rid of things
  • You can’t get organized
  • You have a tight deadline

Decluttering is one of the most important parts of selling a house because people desire a clean, organized, and calm space to live.

Thinking About Downsizing Your Home?

Downsizing your home can:

  • increases your cash flow
  • lowers your utility bills
  • reduces the time and money required for maintenance

If you have too little left over after your house payments each month or you’re stressed about home maintenance, it might be the right time to downsize your home.

Tips for Selling Your House

Work With RE/MAX Shine

At RE/MAX Shine, we understand downsizing is exciting and overwhelming at the same time. If you need to sell your current home, we will provide patient guidance and work with your timeline. We’re real estate professionals who treat our clients like family.

Shine agents are licensed to help people buy or sell real estate anywhere in Wisconsin, but we also have a network of trusted real estate professionals across the United States!

Reach out and let us know what questions you have about downsizing. We’d be honored to help you get into the right home for your next chapter!

Tips for Buying Your Next House

Current Homes For Sale in South-Central Wisconsin

Here are some of the houses for sale in Jefferson County, Wisconsin.

Save These Downsizing Tips For Later

No matter what your reason for downsizing, we hope these are helpful tips for downsizing your home! Save this post to Pinterest or bookmark it, so you can come back to it later.


More Tips from Wisconsin Realtors

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