Decluttering to Downsize: by Martha Tobin

It’s never more obvious how much stuff we have until it’s time to move. As Donna Smallin writes in her book, Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness, “Clutter is what you end up with when you have more stuff than you need”.
Although daunting, decluttering to sell is a priority for several reasons:
-It creates space and buyers pay a premium for space.
-Too many personal effects become a distraction for the buyer.
-A decluttered home is easier to sell than a home that is packed to the gills.
-With home sales you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
-Buyers these days are looking for ‘move in ready’ conditions

Below are steps to keep in mind for decluttering to downsize:
Start early; by starting early you reduce the stress of being rushed at the time of your move
See yourself in your space: Consider what your lifestyle will be like in your new home/residence. Think about what you’ll need there (i.e lawn mower, full dining room set)
Plan your new space: create a floor plan of your new space so you can visualize the rooms and what you hope to put in them
Declutter one room at a time: start first with your least used room and then move on to the other least used rooms.
Sort all items in each room into these categories: Keep-Use Now, Keep-For New Place, and Items to Purge.
For items you want to purge you have a number of options:
-Yard sales
-Online Community marketplaces
-Consignment and second hand stores
-Estate sale/auction companies.
-GIVE SHOP app: online marketplace with proceeds directed to local charities of your choice (i.e. CHEO, Humane society, The Mission etc.)
-Donations: allows you to donate items that ‘no longer owe you anything’ so that they can have a second life with someone who needs them (i.e. old electronics to Compucorps, linens, appliances to Refugee groups, toys to Boys and Girls club, etc.)
-Green disposal of items: stores like Best Buy, Lowes, Staples etc. accept back batteries, paint, lightbulbs, electronics, print cartridges, Pharmacies accept back old medication.
-Trash: last resort for purging your items.

Remember to clear out closets: Buyers will look inside cupboards and closets to ensure there is adequate space for their ‘stuff’ so the less clutter, the better.
Declutter and organize the garage: Buyers want to know they can park their car(s) in this space so purge what you can and move items to the side so that they can visualize this.
Declutter and organize the basement: even if your basement is unfinished, ensure items are neatly stored along the sides so that the buyer can envision what they can do with the space.
Create a moving binder: A moving binder is a great strategy for staying organized during a move and keeps all moving related items and tasks in one easy-to-find place (i.e checklists, receipts, utility company paperwork, etc)
Number each box: as you pack your boxes, make a list of what each box contains. Assign a number to each box. This will help you keep track of your belongings and will help with locating your items upon arriving at your new home.

Decluttering is physically and emotionally exhausting and can be very overwhelming. Depending on the amount of time you have before you move, the time and energy you want to devote to the task or even your age and level of physical ability, you may want to enlist some help. Family and friends can pitch in but as well you may want to look into hiring outside professional help so that they can set up a plan and keep the entire process moving towards your move deadline. As well they often have a team of experts available for any maintenance you require (ie. repairs, painting, landscaping etc.).

Whether you are moving soon or you just realize that you don’t want to leave this daunting task to your loved ones, it’s always a good idea to start the process of decluttering early. As Ruth Soukup talks about in her book, Unstuffed – Declutter Your Home, Mind and Soul, “thinking about our own possessions in the context of our own demise may help to serve as the ultimate decluttering motivator.”



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