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A guide to downsizing

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Downsizing is something that many of us will consider when the time comes, when we’d like to free up some cash, or reduce the burden of caring for a larger property. And, of course, downsizing is vital in the housing market to free up larger properties for families wanting to move up the property chain, perhaps needing extra bedrooms and extra outdoor space for a growing brood.

In fact, according to one estate agent, people reducing the size of their property accounted for 41% of all moves in 2023. That’s up quite noticeably from 32% in 2022.

Downsizing to a smaller property can be a very liberating experience. A smaller space to keep clean and tidy. A chance to de-clutter possessions. And, an opportunity to find a home that is perhaps in a better location and closer to more facilities. Many people of retirement age want to move closer to family.

But, whatever the reason driving the downsizing, in practice they all share one thing in common – the move to a smaller property and the need to therefore reduce the amount of stuff in the home. Which is where self-storage comes into play! 

Here we have put together some helpful tips to aid you with your downsize:

  1. Declutter

There’s no getting away from the fact that when you downsize you will need to get rid of some stuff. But rather than see that as a negative thing, enjoy sifting through all of your things and throwing away the bits that are meaningless to you. It can be very cathartic. Rather than chucking stuff in the bin set yourself a challenge to rehome or recycle as much of it as possible. eBay, Gumtree, Freecycle, and Facebook Marketplace are all great for finding new homes for your belongings – and you may even make some money in the process. 

  1. Be sure to start early 

If it’s even on the horizon that you may be thinking of moving to a smaller property, then start downsizing your belongings right away, as this is going to be a long process. The longer you give yourself, the easier it will be!

Spending small amounts of time clearing out different areas of your home each day will save you from a big panic as your move date draws nearer. You may have things belonging to other family members that you might want to give back. Also, be mindful when shopping and acquiring more items from here on in. Remember that space is going to be more of a premium in your new home so less is more in this scenario.

  1. Be prepared for emotions

Scaling back a lifetime’s worth of stuff isn’t easy. From precious memories to family heirlooms and everything in between, it can be a difficult task. Particularly when it’s taking place at the same time as planning and organising a house move. So accept that this might come with some emotions – good and bad. Certainly it can be fun getting nostalgic with things which have long been buried deep in the loft! Rope in family members to help, especially if you’re likely to be asking if they want to keep anything too. 

  1. Re-assess your furniture 

In order to downsize efficiently, you will need to know the size of the space you’re going to be moving into. Is there somewhere for that antique sideboard to fit in your new house? Will the artwork suit the walls? How big is the loft? What is the storage like? If you know you have the benefit of time on your side to figure out all the answers, you won’t find yourself regretting getting rid of things you really wanted to keep and it helps keep stress levels to a minimum.

Ideally, you’ll know the square footage and shape of each room as this will help you figure out which furniture items are not going to be suitable to take along with you.

Rather than trying to squeeze large pieces of furniture into a smaller space, see what actually fits and take the opportunity to simplify and redesign your interior.  It may seem counterproductive to buy more, but it may be you need to select new furniture, which is better suited to your new home. After all, you need to be happy there, so you don’t want to overfill it and feel like the walls are closing in.

  1. Take only your favourites 

According to the KonMari method, if an item no longer sparks joy for you when you look at it, or has no practical use in your life, then it’s time to get rid of it!

Downsizing is a great opportunity to say goodbye to those things that you have been holding onto for years but no longer need. Unwanted gifts, old clothes that don’t fit anymore, out-dated paperwork and chipped crockery – these are some of the things that you might not want to take along to your next place. Duplicates too – sometimes it’s easy to end up with 50 different mugs, when in reality you only need six. Or three different tin openers when you really only need one!

Damaged goods can be recycled (where possible) and items in good condition can either be sold online or re-gifted to friends, family or charity. 

  1. As well as losing bedrooms, will you also be losing storage in garages, lofts and sheds?

Sometimes, relocating to a smaller home might mean that you lose the storage or garage space that you have become accustomed to. If you’re moving into a bungalow, you may no longer have a loft. Therefore you might be worrying about where you can store bulky items like camping equipment, bikes, sports equipment or out-of-season clothing. Decide what you need to keep – and then make a plan from there. Perhaps there’s space for a shed in your new garden, or self-storage could be the solution.

  1. Invest in some savvy storage

Spend some time researching clever storage solutions for small properties. With a bit of planning, you can make use of even the tiniest bit of space. Beds are probably the best way to add hidden storage in your home. Whether you have big drawers underneath or an Ottoman that lifts up, you can squirrel away plenty under there. Built in cupboards and furniture also work well. Add a window bench, for example, and turn the space underneath into storage.

  1. One in, one out

This is a good habit to get into, even before you move into your new home, as once you have it organised and looking lovely, you don’t want to start overfilling it. Setting yourself shopping targets like the ‘one in, one out’ rule can help to keep it under control (even if you break it occasionally).

  1. Think about self-storage options 

A reputable self-storage facility, such as McCarthy’s, can offer a safe place for you to store some of your things while you decide what to do with them. It takes the urgency out of everything and enables you to get settled in your new home before you have to figure out what you want to take with you. Or even what fits in your new rooms.

Here at McCarthy’s Storage World we offers units ranging from just 16 sq ft to 5,000 sq ft, so there is something for everyone. We can help you figure out the right size storage unit for your needs. You are not locked into any long-term contracts and you can access your items whenever you need them. It could be a great idea to solve all your storage worries as you move home.

McCarthy’s has self-storage facilities in Leeds, Sheffield and Lincoln, all of which are conveniently located with plenty of free parking. We’ll keep everything safe and sound with state-of-the-art security. There’s lifts and equipment to help you get your items from your vehicle to your unit. We even have drive-up units at some of our facilities. 

So, if you’re looking for self-storage to help make your downsizing dreams a reality then get in touch and we’d be happy to help answer any questions.

  1. Pack things properly

Whether it’s for self-storage or for removal, you want the items you do decide to keep to be kept as safe and protected as possible. High quality boxes and packaging materials are vital. We have McCarthy Boxes available from our box shop, along with lots of other packaging materials, such as bubble wrap and dust sheets, to help you get your items packed up and kept safe and sound. 

For quotes, information, and advice about all things storage related, have a browse of our website.

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