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Take a Minimalist Approach to Decluttering Your Home as you Downsize

While there’s a plethora of decluttering advice, much of it focuses on the practicalities of packing. When you’re in the early stages of downsizing your family home — a place you’ve lived for decades — this information is extremely useful. 

But it misses one important part: the emotional connection to your belongings. These aren’t just throw-away items, they’re tangible markers of life’s greatest memories and milestones. 

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If you feel overwhelmed by the process of decluttering (especially if you know it’s prevented you from moving), be kind to yourself. This isn’t an easy task. 

We have more ‘stuff’ than ever 

You’ll probably be surprised at the sheer amount of items you own. Open a box and you’ll be transported to the 80s, 90s, or early 2000s. Decluttering can be a fun journey down memory lane if you let it. Take your time, pour a glass of wine, and do it slowly. You’ll only downsize the family home once in your life. There’s joy in every part of it. It’s all about your perspective. 

The big question is, when is a good time to start decluttering your home?

Making the decision to downsize is the perfect motivator. It’s not something that can be completed in a weekend, nor do you want that emotional pressure. Start as soon as possible and give yourself a runway of time — maybe three months, before you move onto the cosmetic fixups, repairs, deep cleaning, and presentation. 

Decluttering, like most big projects, always takes longer than expected. Plan for this and allow yourself the time and space to reminisce, reflect, and emotionally process the transition. 

Tips from decluttering experts

The philosophy of minimalism can help empower you through decluttering. It asks you to live with intention and purpose, surrounding yourself with fewer, but more meaningful belongings. 

Focus on what really matters. Minimalist homes are simple, orderly, calming, and liberating. Rooms become sanctuaries, rather than busy and unconnected. As you move through your belongings, ask yourself honestly: “does this bring meaning to my life?” 

When every item feels like a memory, try to pace yourself, starting in a non-emotional area (like the bathroom). Spend time defining some limits on what you can bring with you and bask in the excitement of a new chapter. 

For items that are ‘too good’ to throw out, give to the kids, family members, and friends. Expect there to be emotional ties (and an associated guilt at the thought of not taking them). 

This is a hard, yet normal part of the process. Every item goes into one of the four categories: Keep, Donate/Sell, Give Away, Throw Away. 

Where possible, digitise physical photographs, school paintings, and special memorabilia. There are interesting companies dedicated to turning old items into gorgeous digital keepsakes. This way, you can ‘bring’ them with you in a new form and revive their use in your daily life. 

Move the belongings that are coming with you into a dedicated space. While some downsizers enjoy the comfort of renting a storage unit, it’s best to avoid it if you can. 

Storage can cost hundreds per month and is more suitable for people who plan to use those items again. Unless they fit into your new property, focus on liberating yourself from the attachment to these belongings. 

This mindset will serve you well as you settle into your new place. Hone the philosophy of ‘less is more’, and you won’t suffocate a space, no matter how small it is. It’s an ethos that’ll serve you well as you enjoy your enriching years of retirement. 

If it’s all becoming too much, it may be worth hiring a professional to help. Homesuite can connect you with a trusted decluttering service provider who understands the physical and emotional toll of this task.

Your extended downsizing support team, Homesuite, is right by your side. 

Homesuite is a full-service downsizing company, guiding you through this exciting life stage, for a flat fee of $299 - or free, if you engage one of the three top-performing a real estate agents in your area that we connect you to.