By: Nanette Fairley
March 23, 2021


I am almost at the end of a month of downsizing, having made the decision to move from a large house I don’t need any more, to something more cosy.  It has actually been harder, and more stressful, than I thought it would be to downsize all the things I have bought, collected, been gifted and made over the years.

We feel emotional stress when downsizing because we may be sad to leave memories behind, or because we are worried about the change.  It could be because there is guilt from family about leaving the place that holds their childhood memories, or it could be embarrassment as the need to downsize is financial.  For me it was parting with beautiful things that I just don’t need anymore!  Whatever the reason, as I found out, don’t underestimate the impact or the time it takes to do well!

So what did I learn on this journey…………..

  • I needed to remind myself a few times why I was doing this. My reasons were strong for me – I want less of my assets tied up in a big home, less headaches with maintenance and upkeep, and the ability to turn the key and go travelling without having to worry.  Keeping my eye on those reasons was needed at times!
  • Starting early is important. I started about six weeks before my move out date and it wasn’t enough. You need the time to advertise and sell things and reflect on things you aren’t sure will come with you but are hard to part with.  Also you dig through many memories – old travel journals, love letters, kids paintings etc.  I found that very enjoyable but also hugely time consuming.  Give yourself the time to take these little side journeys into various parts of your life.
  • Make a plan – if you are moving to a smaller home or apartment your plan will be different than if you are moving to a tiny home or into your motorhome. I decided what order I would work around the house and also measurements from my new place helped make decisions.
  • Think about what your lifestyle will look and feel like in your new place and take action accordingly. For example, I need a desk as I will sometimes work from home, but not the massive desk I have had for the past 10 years. I also need to store my bikes and the place I am moving to has no garage or place for a shed – the solution I arrived at – they will hang on the wall as a piece of art!!!
  • Stay positive when the going gets tough and remind yourself why you are doing this! Shedding my oversized furniture, all of which I adore, was tough and watching each piece go out the door with its new owner didn’t feel great.  But they don’t belong in the future I have planned for myself.
  • Create several boxes – keep, sell, trash, gift and charity – and sort your belongings accordingly. If you find it hard to decide on some, put those items in a pending box and go back a month later to see if you have changed how you feel about them. Also be careful how much you gift to the younger generation, they probably won’t want it! 🙂
  • Surf Pinterest and visit places like IKEA for neat ideas for tiny spaces and creative storage. But just because you have some cool storage, doesn’t mean you have to stuff it full!
  • Preserve your memories – I am a proud aunt to five and have plenty of memories, photos, paintings, hand made gifts that were hard to part with. I have carefully photographed them for the future prior to exiting the item via the bin.  Digitize the paperwork that you don’t need in hard copy.  One idea from a friend was to turn her 1970’s clothes collection into a quilt that was useful, reminded her of the time and took up a LOT less space!

The downsizing journey is just that…….a journey. Give yourself time, space and a positive outlook and hopefully it will be less traumatic than it could be.  Oh and have plenty of chocolate on hand!!!!