Downsizing is a major life transition and can be an emotional process for you and your family members. Whether you’re an empty nester moving out of your longtime family home, or just looking to minimize and simplify your life, a little preparation can help you with the downsizing process. Planning and organizing will help you fit everything you need into a more comfortable lifestyle.

There are many benefits of downsizing. Owning less means you won’t have as much stuff to clean, dust, care for or worry about. Your smaller, decluttered space will be more manageable to clean and maintain.

Choosing to downsize (which usually includes a move) requires goal setting, planning, scheduling, coordinating and much more. There are many things to take into consideration as you move through this process. As a Professional Organizer I have helped many people through this process. From this experience, I created a list of things you’ll want to consider to help you prepare for the process. You can take these questions and use them to create your own checklist to refer to as you move through the downsizing process.

Here are all of things you’ll need to consider when preparing to downsize:

Space and Belongings

Consider the space available in your new home – what is the layout? How many rooms will you lose and what type of space might you gain? For example, will you go from four bedrooms to two bedrooms, but gain a great room or multi-function space?

What type of entertaining will you do? If you’re not hosting the holidays anymore, will you still need formal dining pieces or as many holiday decorations?

What about outdoor space? Will you have personal outdoor space in your new home, or will it be shared. Do you need to get rid of your patio set and grill?

Take a good look at what you own and determine the need and use for these things in your new space.

Consider whether you might make use of something not previously used. Do you need to keep it?

Think about TRUE NEED – i.e. number of towels and sheets to expected guests and space available. Kitchen items – will you still be entertaining and hosting holidays? How much cooking will you be doing? Will you be ordering out, or traveling for months out of the year?

Realistic Planning

Who in the family wants certain items? Can/will they be able to take them when you need them to?

Will you need additional storage? If so, for how long? What size? Is there storage in your new residence?

Will you want to sell or consign certain items? Do you need an appraiser? Do you have collections or many related items such as antiques, books, ephemera? Will you keep some or all? What will you do with the items of significant value you no longer want to keep?

Hobbies and Activities

What types of hobbies do you have? Painting, woodworking, gardening, etc. Will you still be involved in these things and to what degree? Will your new space accommodate your interests?

What types of outdoor activities do you participate in? Do you need storage for equipment related to these activities (i.e.: golf clubs, bikes, etc.)?

Consider the clothing related to your activities. How many winter coats will you need? Will you need one at all? Perhaps you are moving to a warmer climate. But, will you be visiting a colder climate to see your grandkids?

Will your new residence provide activities or common space for your interests or will you continue to do these things independently?

Maintenance and Care

Think about snow removal, housekeeping, repairs and meals – will you still need to address these duties? Will your new residence provide certain services? Many people are moving from homes into apartments as they age, so they do not have to be responsible for all the maintenance and repairs a single-family home requires. I highly recommend it!

Will you have transportation provided? Will you keep multiple vehicles?

Will you have input on the layout and placement of fixtures throughout your new residence? What is the location and number of closets, shelves, drawers and cabinets? Do you know what the layout will be? If you know where you are moving, you can determine ahead of time what will fit.

Storage

If you are downsizing into a smaller space and renting a storage unit to store all the stuff that doesn’t fit – wait. The whole point of downsizing is to reduce the number or items you own and live a simpler, easier life. That’s hard to do when you know you have piles of stuff you don’t use that you’re paying to store.

Time and planning will help you be better prepared you are to downsize. It’s never too early to start the decluttering process. Walk through your house right now and pick three things you don’t need anymore. Put them in your car to donate. Now you’ve started the process. Keep going and you’ll be living a simple life in no time!