gollygwhizMarch 16, 2007

Hi there! I need suggestions for downsizing to a home that is roughly 1/3 of the size of my current home. My dream cottage came on the market, and I am going to jump for it. Any suggestions or ideas would be perfect. Also, for any of you who have already downsized, what was the hardest adjustment? What was one thing that you wished you had known before you did it? Thanks in advance!

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Letting go of things I "thought" I would never be without. Once the decision was made it actually didn't feel as bad as my mind had garnered. It is really important not to move things with you which are not going to be used. Downsizing beforehand would have made my move much easier....I whined a lot on this forum.

Furniture was and still is a bit of a factor. Many things really don't fit small. I think we have all had to figure this out dependant upon the small house each has though.

What do I wish I had known...that this forum existed. Many great ideas and suggestions for going through what you are.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 7:48PM
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I agree with emagineer - it's the letting go that's the hardest. And once you've made that decision, the next hardest thing is to get started. My situation was retiring (at age 55; no regrets there!) and getting organized to move back to the family home to look after aging parents. And the major consideration was incorporating my things into an already fully furnished (@1700 sq. ft. excluding finished but largely empty basement) house. The house I was in was full of the stuff one acquires over time. And I liked my stuff; it never dawned on me that some day it might become burdensome.

My first project was going through papers, eliminating and shredding everything possible. I got down to one box of "important" papers. Same elimination for recipes ripped from magazines or articles on potential projects... I was never going to do any of that.

Then it was the junk that somehow accumulates in every drawer - the last two feet of picture hanging wire, string, twist ties, pencils, mismatched stationary and envelopes, buttons from clothing I no longer had.

At our homes corporation yard sale, I got rid of a lot of items, and a lot went to the curb on trash and recycling days. A friend wanted the upholstered furniture and her cleaning lady took the second bedroom suite plus some low end office furniture. My neighbors were glad to get snow shovels, garden tools, etc. and the local animal shelter got bags of old blankets and towels. Toward the end, the cleaning supplies were used up keeping the house clean, usable canned goods went to a food shelf - and I ate out to keep the kitchen tidy.

The house sold in 48 hours. And as I had been packing and boxing right along, I was ready as things fell into place. Despite the circumstances of my move, I was not going to divest myself of all my possessions. Was not going to give up the solid cherry Queen Anne livingroom, diningroom and bedroom furniture I'd gotten from the Carolinas in the early 70's. It's beautiful and would be far too costly to try and replace. And I have some of my favorite books, antique American Majolica collection, paintings and antique frames. Needless to say, my furniture, etc. is living happily in the basement until such time as I get into some redecorating. And it will probably be soon as Dad passed away several years ago and Mom has been in a nursing home for a few months now. And this house is a dream come true for me.

Guess this was a little too long and a little too short on ideas for you. But I'd like to think I'm proof positive that downsizing can be done without agony. The older I get the more I can look at something and think... it's just stuff.

I hope your dream cottage becomes your reality!!! Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 7:10PM
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I was living in Denver in a 1800 sq. ft. 2-story "Denver square" plus an 800 sf basement. I decided to go to graduate school, rented my house at first (mistake, should have sold it right off), took with me what I thought were essentials and then proceeded to move 13 times in the next 10 years. Each time I moved, I jettisoned more stuff, mostly clothing, but other things as well. In the beginning, I farmed out some furniture and household items to family and friends for "storage". Things I thought I couldn't bear to part with. The one major error I made at the start of my many moves was not getting rid of most of my closets-full of clothing. I think I can safely say I now own about 25% of the amount of clothing I had back then when I started my journey (1987). Clothes are very heavy to move and then you have to figure out where to store the excess (and still have nothing to wear). What a pain! Thirteen years later, I finally got the last of my furniture from a long-suffering and patient friend and you know what, I just kept a few pieces and got rid of the rest. After all, if I hadn't needed it in 13 years, than why keep it? I'll tell you a secret; getting rid of stuff really enlightens you spiritually. Each time I brought a pile of stuff to the thrift store, I felt lighter, more free, like one more load of "stuff" had been taken off my back. It teaches you to let go of material possessions, something we will all have to do someday. I owned a lot of antique-type furniture (and still own and enjoy a few special pieces), and now I like to think that I was a loving steward of a fine antique for a time, but then passed it on to a new steward, who will also love it and appreciate its history. It's the ultimate in recycling, no?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 10:09PM
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I'm sympathizing, since we're going to be downsizing rather drastically. We currently have 1900 sf and pretty much everything in our price range is half that size, so "jettison" is the big word in our vocabulary too! In the last week I have made $850 selling off furniture and stuff via Craigslist, and there's a lot more to go. Thankfully I own little clothing, DH has three times as much clothing as I do what with his business wear (which I do not need as I do not work due to disability) and gym gear (tons of it). Books are our downfall, I think I can get rid of about 10% of them but we reread all the rest, they don't just take up shelf space. I'm kind of hoping the next house has a hallway so I can do the trick a friend of mine used, lining a hallway with 5" deep shelves from floor to ceiling, 8" apart, for all the paperbacks so we only need a few regular bookcases. (I have a hard time holding hardbacks so getting all my books from the library doesn't work as well for me as it would for most.)

I expect we'll probably end up with some pretty decent tax deductions from all the stuff that'll be going to the local women's shelter. (Remember to get receipts!) DH and I were talking about the downsize today and he said he was really looking forward to having less stuff (as long as it's not his woodworking tools that have to go, let's note LOL)... he is not going to be as thrilled when he's the one who has to schlep all the stuff down to the car and then into the shelter's warehouse! *eeevil grin* I've been feeling suffocated by all our stuff too though, and getting rid of the "okay" in favor of the "awesome" will be pretty cool. I know that some family and friends are going to have fits when they see me selling things they've given me on eBay, but such is life. You have to not be sentimental about things for the sake of things, or keeping things you don't need so you don't hurt someone's feelings... your Aunt Mildred loves you just as much even if you don't keep that sweater she gave you, and Grandma's china is best in the hands of someone who will use it and love it.

Make sure you read the back posts on this forum. There are a lot of great ideas for storage and multiuse furniture and so on. I hope you get your dream cottage and that it's just as wonderful as you dreamed it would be.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 11:12PM
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What I regret was not really planning where everything would go BEFORE we moved. I had a toddler at the time, so there is some excuse. We just kind of shoved everything in, and three years later I am still trying do undo the damage.

I would carefully look at the space - MEASURE - decide the function of each room (and each area of each room) and decide what goes where. You may need to get a smaller sofa or tv armoire or whatever - better to find out before hand. Compare how much cabinet space you have, how large the closets are. Like Mari, get rid of the stuff before you move - save yourself a lot of agony.

I also wish I had painted the interior before moving in - but that was the last thing on my mind...

The one thing I'm really glad I did was to tear up the carpets and refinish the wood floors before moving in. What a mess!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 6:38PM
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Thanks for all of the suggestions and encouragement. Unfortunately, my husband isn't as keen on the idea as I am. I know that it would be an adjustment, however, I'm tired of living our house. Literally, he called me on the phone when I was in the master bedroom and he was in the basement. What family of 3 needs 5 bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths plus a finished basement??? ARG!!!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 12:40PM
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When my husband and I last moved, we went through our belongings fairly ruthlessly, which neither of us minded.

However, books were a big issue. I got rid of most of mine, with the exception of favorite childhood books and anything by Virginia Woolf or Joan Didion. DH, on the other hand, could barely part with any of his collection. So, we now have IKEA bookshelves lining one wall of the basement.

Gollygwhiz--Could you perhaps "run some numbers," comparing the average energy costs of a smaller house to those of your current house? Or, start selling a few things on eBay or Craigslist and then let him know how much you've earned? That might whet his appetite for downsizing and culling his possessions.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 2:51PM
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I don't want to be a nay-sayer here, but when my husband and I downsized, we downsized too far. He particularly had a hard time with it and would come home from work and watch TV, and that was it.

We found that we needed a little more space for comfort, and for each of us to have a place of our own to retreat to, for hobbies, woodworking or whatever. So we upsized last year. Two moves in 5 years was NOT fun, but we're happy now.

I'd advise you to analyze your interests and hobbies, and your actual way of living, both together and separately. That turned out to be more important for us than what 'stuff' we were going to keep or toss.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 11:07PM
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We're still trying to "let go",....4 years after we sold 2 big houses. We gave a few things to the kids (grown, and on their own for many years), we had 2 garage sales, and gave away/threw away some stuff. We put a lot of things in storage, bought a big diesel-pusher motorhome, and started RV fulltiming and traveling. We saw a lot, and talked to many "golden years" people. We designed our version of the "perfect" 2-person "last" house (small, but with big-house features) . Our emphasis was on efficiency, utility, custom features, comfort, taxes, maintenance-freedom, wheelchair-friendly, location, and "looks". We made sure that the floorplan would accomodate our favorite pieces of furniture. The heated/cooled living area is only 1,720 sq ft, but the rear-attached garage is BIG and my little storage barn is 12' x 12'. The garage is big enough for a small shop area, our large bassboat, and 2 cars (plus storage above, in the attic). As you can see, I really didn't "give up" too much. The master suite is BIG, with BIG bathroom and BIG closet, AND the 2nd bedroom is my wife's quilting room. She also has plenty of space outside for her flower garden, and the backyard accomodates our motorhome. My wife misses the library, formal dining room, sun room, extra bedrooms and closets, etc of our ole 3,200 sq ft house. We're still working on our "downsizing" transformation, but I can see a lot more positives than negatives.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 1:38PM
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That's a good point, artemiss; while folks are "small house proud" on this forum it's very possible to go TOO small to be comfortable, and that's totally personality-dependent. Some people are content in closet-sized digs, others need a little more elbow room. Thankfully DH and I had slowly upsized through a bunch of apartments (beginning with 330sf!) to learn what size is good for us - I sometimes feel the teensiest trace of guilt for wanting about 1200sf for just the two of us (we're downsizing from 1900), but we do "need our space" for our books, hobbies, etc. We had an 800sf condo and it was too small, we drove each other just plain crazy, and we couldn't have more than two people over without feeling crowded and stifled. Maybe if it had had a full-sized, functional basement for DH's hobbies it would have worked better but woodcarving in the living room stinks!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 3:40AM
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I am in the process of "simplfying". A trick I discovered was to pack stuff in boxes, put the boxes in a spare room. After a few months, if I have forgotten what was in the boxes, I just send the boxes to Goodwill. Works great with clothes!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 4:39PM
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McGillicuddy -
I ran all sorts of numbers. It didn't matter to him that the mortgage itself would save about a grand a month. He pulled a not so fair ploy by hinting that he might move us all back to our home town if I'd just wait. My daughter has one more year of high school left and wants to go to college there.

I see your point. I think that there is an in-between house that will fit both of our needs better, somewhere. I'll just start slowly weeding out the fluff and when it's available, I'll be ready.

Love your house from previous posts. You did some very careful planning and it shows. By the way, I LOVE your wife's quilt on one of the other threads. She's very talented.

One day you will all find me in a small house of my dreams... Have a great day!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 9:00AM
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