Downsizing - sorting and packing

kitchenwitchMay 5, 2014

I've sold my house and we close in a month. I've lived here for 17 years with my husband & two kids, and now they're all gone and I'm downsizing. I haven't found another place to buy or rent, so I'm moving in with a friend temporarily. I'd be a lot more excited if I had a new place to think about decorating, but I'm grateful that I have someone who will take me & my old cat in.

So now I'm sorting and packing to put most of my things in PODs for a few months. Any tips and ideas of what to put in deep storage and what to keep on hand? I can store some things at my son's house for easy access, and my friend has a dry basement too. Of course I'll take all my clothes, my bike, and my files, but what else would you recommend? Anything about POD storage that I should know?

And let me say that I am appalled at myself when I see all the bags of trash I'm throwing out (OMG, just my linen closet is ridiculous). I'm also giving a lot to charity and to people that can use things, but when I think of how I wanted it and shopped for it and paid for so much stuff, it makes me sad to see this waste. I have a big walk-up attic and a garage and a basement, and all these years they have become filled up. I'd get a new lamp, and put the old one in the attic, you know, maybe the kids would want it. Guess what - the kids don't want my old lamp! We kept so much - building materials from renovations, 1/2 empty cans of paint, furniture projects that never got done (anyone want some cute chairs?), what was I thinking all these years?

I'm very happy to be lightening my load, but organizing all this is so overwhelming.

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PODs are great for temporary storage, but they don't hold as much as you think they will. So if you think you are going to need it, don't put it at the back of the POD. We rented one once when we were refinishing floors so this was no problem for a couple of weeks, but it really filled up fast.

Congratulations on downsizing. I guess I would also caution against throwing/giving away too much if you are planning to buy another home in a few months and will need things like a set of tools, linens (even old ones for drop cloths if you paint), a couple of old towels for this and that. I think you probably know what I mean. A small set of tools would be on my 'keep them close' list if they are something you use regularly.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:53PM
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I love household goods like linens and tableware and have lots of both so I empathize with you as you try to sort through everything and make decisions about what to keep. The best advice I can give you is to think about how you plan to live and keep the possessions that support that lifestyle. Divest yourself of everything else. As for what to keep on hand, it sounds like you already have the right things in mind.

One word of warning...don't store batteries, liquid cleaning supplies or any aerosols in your POD as they can leak or explode and damage your other items.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 6:31PM
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I had my epiphany when I had my first garage sale. I've been to many as a browser or buyer -- and I always would marvel at the cheap prices I bought something for.

But when I was on the other end, as the seller -- I looked longingly at the stuff that I originally paid lots of money for -- going for pennies on the dollar.

I realized at that point that I was going to try to reduce my clutter and inventory, so that I don't have another regret of taking the first bite of buying costly stuff for other people.

Think of your packing like you are going on a trip. What are the vital items you must have upon arrival, as well as what you'll need within the first few weeks?

The rest could be put up in storage, with the potentially more useful things in the front of the storage bins.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 6:39PM
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I am sorry you are going through this. I don't have any recommendations, as I bought a new house when this happened to me. I only know how difficult this is . Best of wishes to you in your new life.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:02PM
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New lifestyle, new chapter, new priorities. Don't beat yourself up over what you did save over the years; sometimes we actually do congratulate ourselves that we saved something when we find a new use or place for it.

May I ask a question? Why the PODS instead of space in a climate-controlled, gated storage facility? Are the rates that much different?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:14AM
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I was thinking PODs as a solution to short-term moving storage as you load it once, store it, and then it's delivered to you next location. But after a bit more research, I think it may not work as I want to move to a townhouse situation & there might not be enough room to drop a POD there.

Thanks for all the replies - I've been working on this move for a while, but now that I'm down to the last month, I'm quite overwhelmed.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 6:13AM
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Kitchenwitch, I don't have any advice, but I wanted to wish you good luck with your move. Don't beat yourself up! I know I have saved a lot of items that I didn't need to. Just keep taking baby steps and you'll get there!


    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:05AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

It can be overwhelming, but it is a stage of life...certainly many of us have been there many times. It does change your perspective on acquisitions in the future. After all the cleaning up we've done of family houses as people have died or moved, not to mention our own, it does change how you feel about acquiring more "stuff". DH and I tease that we need to go to garage sales...not to buy, but to sneak some of our stuff onto their tables!

It can feel very overwhelming and it is very emotional as so much stuff triggers memories of past people and events. But it's important to just appreciate what was and let it go....if you can give it to a charity where it will be appreciated and used by someone else, more's the better.

No advice on pods...all I can say is hang tough, this too will pass.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 8:46AM
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Another point about the PODS -- some townhouse HOAs restrict how long you can have it even in your own assigned parking space. But some may not ...

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:14AM
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Kitchenwitch, IâÂÂll tell you my story to help you think this move out. Last June we sold our four bedroom two and a half bath home to downsize as our kids are grown and we didnâÂÂt need the huge yard and large home. The larger house had nine ft ceilings but most was 12 feet high. We sold a lot of stuff but still ended up with two large storage rooms, one of which had A/C for anything electrical and the nicer furniture. We moved in temporarily with our son in his townhome. By the time we found a small house and closed it was already January. We are still not in as previous renovations were so poorly done we have had to rip most of it out. We did know this going in though, however, as is the case with most remolding it ends up a bit more than first thought. We are now paying a mortgage and rent at sons and the cost of two large storage rooms. We cannot use most of the stored furniture. The scale is way off for a downsize home with eight foot ceilings. Also, I needed a whole different layout and style for seating in the new place.

What I wish I would have done differently is just keep a few things like art, maybe some area rugs I liked or a few small pieces that held sentimental value along with the electronics and kitchen things. Now I have to drag all the old stuff to new house to sell it on craigslist because the community I bought in does not allow garage sales. Or, after sorting through it all I will have to truck it all up to a consignment shop way up north as my local shopâÂÂs owner has a bad reputation. All of this on top of a remodel and (costs) and shopping for more suitable furniture.

How much do you love your stuff⦠thatâÂÂs what I would ask myself if I had to do it all over again. I was trying to save money byre- using much of my old stuff but in the end after storage feeâÂÂs I should have just waved goodbye long ago.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:27AM
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All this talk about moving and downsizing is making me want to de clutter. If there is space, it will get filled.

I just replaced my front loader (what horrible machines) with the old fashioned top loaders (Yay, actual water). But the top loaders each had a huge drawer which i used for storage. And, I stacked this on top of both of them. Things used daily or weekly like yoga towels, bath mats etc. Now, I have to figure out where to put this stuff so that it is convenient.

I think pulling apart the basement will be my new hobby. At least for a while.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:58AM
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I would sell whatever I can on CL=craigs list, I sell so much on there most went in a day or just an hr. or less, take pics. trhey speak volumes, and sell to local folks in your area..

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:14PM
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Thank you all for your replies! IâÂÂm ditching the POD idea and going with the conventional movers and storage unit, since I may not be able to use the POD at my next location. This actually can solve several problems of accessibility.

IâÂÂm going from an antique Victorian house and I hope to buy something more modern, so IâÂÂm not taking too much furniture -- itâÂÂs mostly all worn out anyway! IâÂÂm taking a leather sofa and loveseat and my bed. Side tables, a dresser, an antique armoire, carpets, dining chairs, my patio set. I gave my niece the dining room table and furniture from the bedrooms. I had built-in bookshelves and cabinets in the dining room, so no hutch or sideboard to move. IâÂÂm keeping my dining chairs and will get a table to fit the new space, and the same with a bed for the second bedroom. IâÂÂm selling all the appliances and garden stuff with the house. I have a lot of paintings and art, and books, electronics, sport equipment (skiing, camping, bike, etc.) and all that kitchen stuff. I understand the pain of paying for storage and then finding you canâÂÂt use it all, but IâÂÂm concerned about getting rid of everything and having to buy new. ItâÂÂs a dilemma!

I know where I want to move to, but just what I want has not come up for sale. IâÂÂm keeping an open mind for alternatives, but IâÂÂve targeted a townhouse community that has a layout I like and is in my price range -- I want to downsize my monthly expenses most of all. The units IâÂÂm interested in go up for sale periodically, and having sold my house and living in a temporary situation will allow me to jump on something when itâÂÂs available. IâÂÂm hopeful!

ItâÂÂs going to be an interesting summer!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:20PM
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Sounds like you have more of a plan than you think you do. Now you just need to put it all in motion. Taking the first steps is always the hardest and having it all in front of you probably seems like it is endless. Just climb that mountain (and pack those boxes) one step at a time and you WILL get there. Keep us updated.

Glad you decided to go for the storage unit. It probably will be better for your needs, even if it costs a little more, in the long run. At least you have decided what big pieces to keep and what to give away. I'm sure the rest will fall into place as you begin to pack.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 4:00PM
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Kitchen witch, congratulations on having made some huge decisions about your future. I applaud you for selecting a particular community and waiting for a townhouse in it to come up for sale. One thing that has ALWAYS bothered me about real estate sales is that your choices are restricted to what is available when you're ready to buy. I realize that sounds obvious, but when you consider that probably no more than 20% of a particular area is for sale at any one time, your housing is determined more by chance than by preference unless you build. And how wonderful that you have a friend you can stay with while waiting to choose your own home!

Best of luck with the move and storage--- it sounds as though you kept what you will probably need for the townhouse, another advantage of knowing where you will land instead of guessing. I am looking forward to your move in photos in the community of your choice!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 6:21AM
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Thanks for the encouragement! ! I didnâÂÂt expect to sell my house to the first person who saw it, but I feel pretty blessed that I did. I own a duplex -- half a house, and while they are fairly common in my town, itâÂÂs not a situation for everyone. I know I would feel awful if I found a house I wanted and had to miss out on it if wasnâÂÂt able to sell mine.

I'll really miss my kitchen

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 9:28AM
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Wow. We have a Ranch House in escrow. Initially we considered it a higher end rental but DH has suggested downsizing to it. It's a 4/2 on .28 acres. (1900 SF) Our house is 3,000 with two sets of stairs on two and a half (high maintenance) acres. We may put off renting it for a few months, while we decide if we like the area it's in. (Neighboring town about 40 minutes away.)

We also have too much stuff and plan to spend the next year downsizing and decluttering. It must be in the air. Yes, I'm overwhelmed already. Kitchen, I'd miss that kitchen too.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 5:16PM
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thanks, golddust!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 2:08PM
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