Tips for Downsizing Before the Big Move

By: Jamie Kreps

One of the best ways to cut costs before a big move is to downsize your assets. In the simplest of terms, the less you bring with you, the less it will cost you to move.

Downsizing before a move also helps cut down on the chaos and stress of moving by getting rid of extras you really don’t need. And, as an added bonus, it also means less you’ll have to unpack once you’re all moved!

You may think downsizing is a daunting task, but it truly doesn’t need to be that difficult. And we’re also pretty certain you’ll thank yourself later on for purging unnecessary items before the move. Trust us when we say, you’re not going to want all the extras when it comes time to finding places for them in your new home.

There are many reasons to take stock of your items and do a thorough purge. Whether you’re moving in with a partner or roommate and have acquired duplicate items, or you are the type of person who likes to hang on to items (a little too long, perhaps?), chances are, you’ve got possessions you could do without. Here are some tips to help you thin out your collection and cut some costs along the way:

Make a Plan for Downsizing

The first step is to have a plan. If you approach your belongings without a plan, you’re going to run into issues.

“Start planning your downsizing early and set goals. For couples and families, make sure everyone is on the same page to eliminate conflicts and hurt feelings down the road.” –

You can plan for your purge by setting realistic goals:

  • Decide how much you want to bring with you (number of boxes or total square footage)
  • Be sure to consider the areas in your new home (available closets, cupboards, etc.)
  • Set rules for how to choose what goes and what stays (if it hasn’t been used in a year, etc.)
  • Create three separate piles for sorting your belongings: a “Keep” pile, a “Sell” pile, and a “Donate” pile. You could also add a “Trash” pile if you’re really bad at holding on to things too long.

Take Stock of Your Inventory and Organize

After you’ve determined your limits on what to keep, you need to take stock of exactly how much you have. From there, begin your downsizing efforts by moving items into the three separate piles mentioned above (Keep, Sell, Donate). If you’re having trouble figuring out what should stay and what should go, a hypothetical replacement exercise could help.

What do we mean? Well, imagine that you were starting from scratch. If you had no belongings to your name whatsoever, what items would you go out and purchase to fill your new home? Those are the items you’ll want to add to your “keep” pile. Anything else should probably fit into one of the other categories.

Buy, Sell and Donate!

Some of your items may be needed functionally but could be replaced with more efficient items. If you locate items you could upgrade, sell them! Selling the old and then buying new pieces in your new location will save you the cost of paying to move items you’re replacing soon anyway.

Perhaps you could upgrade some of your tech pieces to include an all-in-one feature or a smaller item. Upgrading to a smart television or a digital subscription could help your downsizing efforts by eliminating add-on devices for satellite or cable, while universal remotes can help cut down on remote clutter. Another tip: wifi connection devices can cut down on cords.

Once you’ve created your piles, you can begin selling and donating items you don’t need. Most would agree that selling is the most appealing – I mean, who couldn’t use some extra cash, especially right before a big move?

Sites like Craigslist, Letgo, and Facebook Marketplace are a good place to list items for sale and reach a large local audience. Other options include traditional yard sales or garage sales – you can advertise these sales in advance through newspapers and social media to try and make sure you get a decent turn out for your sale.

If you end up with pieces that don’t sell (or you don’t want to fuss with selling items in the first place), donate what’s left. Local charities and organizations are a great place to start: The Salvation Army, Goodwill, or homeless shelters are happy to receive donations of household items. And bonus – you get a tax break for the donation!

“Try to think of your downsizing as an opportunity to do something new and live a lighter life with a lighter load instead of spending more money shoehorning the things you have into a smaller space.” –

All-in-all, the most important part of downsizing is to make sure you stick to your plan. Don’t keep items you haven’t found a use for in the past year or that you have more than one of. Don’t hold on to items you could upgrade to more efficient models. And above all, don’t bring things along that you wouldn’t replace if you were to lose them tomorrow.


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