With the average costs of maintaining a home in the UK at about £9000 per year, many people are considering moving to a smaller house. Some may want to save on housing maintenance costs in order to add to their retirement fund, some might be looking for a retirement home whose costs they can keep up with, while others yet might be looking to move home following a divorce.
Whatever category you find yourself in at the moment, this guide will provide a few key pieces of advice aimed at helping you navigate through the downsizing maze.
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The first step you should take when relocating to a smaller house is to take an inventory of your belongings.
Over the years, you’ve probably accumulated piles of stuff which won’t all fit in your new smaller home. If you live in a large house, it’s best to split it into smaller areas so as to make the task at hand more manageable.
Perhaps sorting the items in one room each day would work well for you, or maybe putting a weekend or two aside and taking care of one level of your house each day would fit your schedule better. Either way, make sure you set enough time to compile a full list of what you own as this will make the next step much easier and quicker.
Sorting items by the room they were in, by family member who owns/uses them most, or sorting related products together are all acceptable options. Just ensure that your inventory is comprehensive and that you’ve made it easy to find everything once you’re ready to start making tough decisions.
Once you’ve compiled your list, the often-difficult process of deciding what to keep and what to get rid of commences.
During this step it’s important to stay strong and approach the process with an open mind. We all get attached to objects. It is, however, vital that you look past your fondness for these and think of them in utilitarian terms. Of course, it often happens that a certain item will remind us of a time in our lives which we hold dear, or of a friend or family member which we’re no longer in contact with. Keeping one or two of these objects won’t make too much of a difference, but you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to hoard everything.
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Before deciding what to hold on to and what to get rid of, you should analyse the housing market and figure out approximately how much space a property within your price range will provide. This will place you in a great position to decide what to keep and what to give up. If you’re finding it difficult to come across something within your price range, check out our guide on how to afford a house with low income.
As a rule of thumb, anything that isn’t absolutely essential can and should go. Ruthlessness is a trait you must aim to emulate during this time; letting go of objects that you’ve become attached to is an inescapable reality of moving to a smaller house.
You need to decide what you absolutely cannot live without, what you like and could easily fit in the new home, and leave everything else behind. The kitchen is a room you should pay special attention to as most people find they have more than one appliance or utensil for a particular purpose. If you have more than one mortar and pestle, for example, choose the one you like best and donate or sell the other.
For those having a difficult time deciding what to bin, try:
· Getting rid of anything you haven’t used in a year or more;
· Parting ways with any object which will not fit in or cramp your new house (this is especially true of large pieces of furniture);
· Chucking any duplicate items;
· Weighing the amount you could sell a certain item for against how much you care about said non-essential item (parting ways with something will most certainly be made easier if you receive a sum of money in exchange).
If you find that some of the things you’ve been storing in various places around your home aren’t yours, get in touch with the friends or family members who they belong to. It is often a good idea to send pictures of the state these items are currently in so that their owner can let you know if they’d like to pick them up or if they’re no longer needed.
Remember to provide a date after which these won’t be available for pick-up anymore. This might seem like a step too far, especially because you’re probably dealing with close friends and family members. However, sticking to your moving schedule is essential and any delays can end up costing you. With the costs of moving house so high nowadays, you would do well to avoid incurring any extra expenses.
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Look to your current storage set-up and decide how you could optimise the space in your future home.
You’ll need to make the most of your new and limited space. This can be done in a few ways:
· Adding shelves to a tall cupboard, closet, or other kind of storage space make it more efficient.
· Separating your new house’s rooms into different areas, each with its own purpose, could be a useful tactic. Once you decide how much space a particular activity should take up in your new home, determining which objects to keep and which to bin will come much easier.
· An obvious way of maximising space is getting objects off the floor and using as much vertical space as possible. Of course, some furniture items such as rugs will need to be placed on the floor, but in this context, we’re talking about trying to avoid using the floor as storage space. Instead, try installing one or more shelves in order to declutter the area.
· Get creative! The best thing you can do is get the creative juices flowing and come up with innovative and fun storage solutions. This will not only optimise your new home’s space, it will also make the new place your own. If you’re moving to a smaller house which features unused space under the stairs, for example, transform this idle room into storage for your clothing or other essentials.
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Moving to a new house is a difficult and stressful enough process even for those who don’t find themselves in need of downsizing. Getting rid of much of your stuff only adds to the pressure and emotional strain. However, keep in mind that moving to a smaller house can actually be a blessing in disguise as you’ll be forced to decide what you actually need and what you’ve just been hoarding. Most people don’t ever get the chance to properly declutter, so make the most of it!
The next step would be to sell your house. We’re here to help if you need general advice on how to sell your house or, for those working on a tighter schedule, guidance on how to sell your house fast.