Over the years of helping clients to downsize to a smaller living space, one constant challenge occurs for just about everyone. What to do with ALL THAT STUFF?
According to the article 21 Surprising Statistics that Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own from Becoming Minimalist, the average American family owns 30,000 items. Many people report feeling overwhelmed and shocked when it comes to truly assessing how much they own as they pack for a move. Some transition to a more minimalist lifestyle when they realize how freeing it is to let go of things.
As a realtor specializing in downsizing, I enjoy helping my clients to find solutions for eliminating clutter, which can be defined as items that do not perform a function or contribute to your happiness. Once they perform the task of reviewing, eliminating and donating their unwanted items, they experience a kind of freedom, punctuated by the pleasure of moving into a brand new home.
But the path from hiring a realtor to downsize and the final destination of living in your dream house with less material stuff can be long and winding. Many people are comfortable letting go of things that don’t “spark joy”, as bestselling professional organizer Marie Kondo likes so say. The place where they struggle is how to make sure that those items are passed along to their next life in a way that is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and supports their community. This is especially true here in Portland, where living conscientiously is very important to many people. But those lofty prerequisites for eliminating unwanted household items is enough to paralyze many homeowners into inaction.
How to Truly Downsize
Downsizing is first and foremost about letting go of excess stuff, then about moving into a smaller home. Here are some great resources to get you started.
If you are in Portland, check out my referral directory for some great, local resources for hauling, recycling and donation services, along with other professionals to help you make decisions about your stuff. Many real estate agents have directories like these, so if you are in a different state, check with your realtor to see if they have a similar referral directory for your area.
This article from the New York Times features a number of handy decluttering apps, guaranteed to help you get started.
Go Trashy is a great tool for removal of items once you have decided to part with them. Simply install the app on your phone, snap a picture of the pile you want removed, and a hauler will come and pick it up immediately, providing a tax deductible receipt. You don’t even need to be home. If you only have household items to donate, you can also schedule a pickup with the Veterans of America. They take clothing and small household items.
If you are feeling really stuck, consider hiring a professional organizer. These professional decluttering experts can help you make decisions on the hard stuff, give consignment and donation recommendations and tips, and often will even help you pack and unpack. If you hire a professional organizer, refer to your local NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing) directory to find the right person.
Buying a new home and downsizing can be challenging, but there are many rewards that come with the process! Giving things away to those who can truly use them feels GREAT, and you will be left with a cleaner, simpler, more joyful life.