Downsizing, A Journey
The downsizing process will be different for everyone. It depends on what you have now and how small you are going. I can convey the lessons learned from my families journey then point you to tips from other people who have taken the journey so you can learn from all of us.
Determine how small you can go:
Today we visited a small house. 960 sq./ft. It seems very small compared to the 2734 sq./ft. house I live in. Each bedroom had a tiny closet but that was it. There were two sheds in the yard. We decided it was too small for us.
We have watched untold tiny house and house buying shows on TV. This helped us understand each others preferences: We absolutely love Hawaii but our finances won’t allow that and it would be too difficult to see our kids. Town after town was ruled out. We like the mountains. That right there rules out an outdoor shower. On and on it goes. Then you begin searching. Here is a link to a map showing where current tiny houses are for sale.
We made a list of wants and needs.
We’ve determined our minimum size dwelling, compromised on how rural it can be, and agreed that it must be in beautiful Colorado.
Our house must be stick built with normal utilities, like water and sewer. I would rather not have a town home, condo, or apartment and I would like to have a work shop. She was fine with that as long as we have hi-speed Internet, good cell phone reception and no stairs. We need a grocery store, a few restaurants, and medical care nearby, and all within our budget. So, without having actually defined the actual structure or swinging a hammer, our new home was taking shape within our minds.
Downsizing is easy to say but much harder to do. In anticipation of retirement I’ve been attempting to downsize for a long time. Sorting thru the crawl space I have found several things that sold on E-Bay. We have bi-annual garage sales that help us get rid of even more. Still, every closet is stuffed with stuff. Then there is the garage, not to mention the tool shed. The crawl space for all of my efforts is still packed.
My wife and I are retiring and moving to a house less than half the size of our current house with a garage. This is as small as we felt we could possibly go at this time. Our new house is 300 miles away so moving possessions is quite expensive. The first thing the realtor says to do when selling your house is to declutter. This means renting a storage unit and moving as many things as you can out of the house. I thought my wife had made a mistake when she rented the biggest storage unit they had but we’ve nearly filled it up. It has been interesting to see what we have had to retrieve as the weeks have gone by.
One of the things I missed the most (as silly as this may seem) was my back scratcher. I found out that I use it almost every day. I hadn’t even noticed that I did. So, the lesson, don’t give up the things you use everyday.
We retrieved the Crock Pot slow cooker. It is an essential kitchen appliance like the coffee maker and toaster. But we have not retrieved several cutting boards (two seem to be enough) and several large boxes of other things. I will let my wife make the decisions about the kitchen as she is the primary chef in the family.
I went thru my closet and drawers and made the easy decisions first. All of the jeans with holes that I was saving as Saturday clothing, all the pants that no long fit, shoes I haven’t worn in years, gone. Clothing fell into four categories:
- Keeping: Hawaiian shirts are my new uniform.
- Selling: My wife sold a lot of cloths at our yard sales. Most of my cloths gets worn out before I stop wearing it.
- Donating: We were able to donate ski suits and sports cloth we are unable to use anymore.
- Dumping: “Just let it go dear,” my wife said rolling her eyes. “No one is going to buy your old crap.”
I will need to go thru the clothing again and par down even more.
Knickknacks & Keepsakes:
Chotchkies. These baubles have value (only to you). They are what gives your home it’s unique character. I have a really nice collection of shells, corals, and other island trinkets in a six foot tall, lighted display case. It’s been in a corner of my home for years. Will there be a place for it in my new home? Rethinking what you want your habitat to reflect is a very personal issue that needs careful consideration.
My wife has taken a picture of each piece of furniture and art we have. She measured them and made a scale drawing of the house we are moving to. Then she fit each piece into the floor plan to see what we could keep and what we would need to get rid of. She has listed many items on Craig’s list and in the local classifieds. The yard sale is next weekend. She says I can keep my shells but I am much more interested in ensuring that there is room for the 65″ TV and surround sound system.
Most of the things I have retrieved from the storage unit have been garage items. As a “tool user” it is essential for me to have on hand the tools and hardware items necessary to make quick repairs, or projects without a trip to the hardware store. I also need a place to store the lawnmower, snowblower, shovels, rakes, sprinklers, hoses, etc. Our new house has a garage but it would be nice to actually get a car inside it. A shed might be needed for storage as well.
Most of us own toys. Whether it be a kayak, bike, ATV, or just a fishing pole. We will need someplace to keep our toys. I have seen shipping containers re-purposed into storage sheds. Because of their metal construction they are very secure but very heavy.
So, this is the journey we have taken thus far to determine the comfort level of downsizing for us. Ooo, the dog. Gotta have room for the dog.
Update on our downsizing experience:
We sold most of the furniture and BBQ grill with the house. Habitat for Humanity picked up a few things but they are really picky. We had to pay the trash guys to haul away some of the furnishing.
We had four yard sales and took twelve truck loads to the dump before packing everything else into the biggest truck U-Haul has and then had to rent a cargo van for the overflow! The U-Haul blew a gasket trying to haul all of our stuff over the mountains to our new home.
After unpacking we had two more yard sales, two trips to the second-hand store, and a load of towels to the animal shelter. Sadly, my shell collection sits in a box in the crawl space and I sold my surround system thru a local online yard sale site and replaced it with a
Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar /Music Speaker
Other peoples journey:
Here is a link to a blog called Simply Learning about one families journey to minimalism.
People retiring, who have already taken some of the steps in downsizing, might be ready for a Tiny House.
Tiny Home Builders builds several model of tiny homes If you are able to build your own they also sell just the plans.
Imagine pulling your tiny house into your sons or daughters back yard. Many cities and counties allow this. A contractor connects your tiny home to the main house utilities and you roll out the welcome mat.