31 Aug 2017

Our Downsizing Survival Strategy


There can be plenty of reasons behind the want or need to downsize where you live. These can range from the kids leaving home, to divorce, retirement or just the desire for a that alluring 'simple life'.

Having just gone through this process ourselves moving from a 320m2, 5 bedroom family home into our 180m2, 3 bedroom home, here is what I learned along the way that may be able to help you.


It’s emotional

We all form attachments to certain belongings and the memories they trigger, and parting with some of these items can feel like a grieving process. Especially if the memory is around a person who is no longer with us, or a stage of life that has ended.


It’s confronting

We can learn some pretty tough lessons about ourselves around how we use money, maybe acquiring things we didn’t really need or use, or feeling like we wasted valuable resources.


It’s exciting

Because it signals a new beginning - providing opportunities to change things up a little; whether that be switching up the décor or repurposing valued items. I


It’s cathartic

What does that mean? It can be quite healing. It's a time for cleansing, purging and releasing possessions, beliefs or attitudes and sometimes people who no are no longer present in our lives.


So here is my Survival Road Map and some hints to help you not only downsize now but continue to 'keep it simple sweetheart'. KISS!


  • If you haven’t used it, worn it or looked for it in the past 6-12 months, what is the likelihood that will change?


  • Hang all the clothes in your wardrobe on a back to front hanger, as you wear an item replace it on a hanger the right way round. If it’s still hanging back to front in the robe in 6 months, gift it to charity or sell it. Naturally, consider seasonal changes.


  • Do the same with your shoes. Put them away back to front, replace them the right way once you have worn them and then have a look in 6 months, you’ll be surprised how little you actually wear. Same with bags and belts, if you can’t remember the last time you used them – show them the door.


  • Put all of your kitchen utensils in a box on the kitchen bench, take them out as you use them and put them away in a drawer. If it’s still in the box in a month, you likely don’t need it. Dispose of duplications, how many slotted spaghetti spoons do you really need? (The answer is none, use tongs)


  • Do you have some items which serve multiple purposes? Do you really need a pressure cooker and a slow cooker? How about an electric wok and an electric frypan, can you use a saucepan instead of a rice cooker? Can your stick blender replace your food processor? How much space can you save by being more resourceful?


  • Plastics cupboards and drawers are the devil, try putting all the containers in a plastic tub and all the lids in another, put them away in the drawer to keep as you use them, give it a month and ditch the rest and the mismatches.


  • Underwear, socks, pyjamas. I'm going to assume we all wash at least weekly. So even allowing for wet weather and no clothes dryer we only need enough for 7 days.


  • Linen and towels. I counted 16 towels I gifted to charity, and 7 spare sets of bedlinen, pretty new colours won my dollars far too often. At the end of the day we only need 2 sets of bed linen and 2 towels per person, one in use and one for when the first set is in the wash, plus a spare for a house guest and another for the beach or camping.


  • Store each full set of linen inside the relevant pillow case; sheets, pillow slips, doona cover and matching towels for a week all fit neatly in the pillow case. You will always have the full matched set and if you only have one spare set per bedroom you’ll find you need less.


  • Photo albums, books and DVD’s. Old photos and favourite DVD’s can be scanned onto a hard drive, don’t worry it’s legal to keep a copy of that movie you paid for, you just can’t share them publicly. And how many books do you genuinely read twice? Moving forward, store or purchase digital versions of any future acquisitions.


  • Tax records, receipts and warranties etc. Its really only a handful of legal documents which need to be kept as originals, scan the rest onto a hard drive or better still a cloud or web  based storage solution such as dropbox. You’ll be able to access them from any computer.


  • Toiletries and makeup, I had far too much of this so I decided to only keep what would fit in my travel pack. If you can tour Europe for a month with one small bag of product then you can live that way permanently right? Right?


  • Food, especially condiments. So much of what we buy goes to waste or gets lost in the pantry so we buy another.   Rather than shopping weekly, try buying just a couple of days at a time based around your menu for the next 3 days. It will be fresher and you’ll waste less, and just because the supermarket says buy two doesn’t mean you need two.


  • Organising dry food items in see through containers ( I got mine from Ikea) makes them easier to find, you’ll be surprised how many duplicates you have. Don’t buy in bulk unless you use in bulk.


  • To survive with a smaller fridge, again do smaller shops more frequently, you’ll save heaps on wastage. Package meal size meat portions for freezing flat in a ziplock bag rather than supermarket packaging. Do the same for veggie portions, e.g. a whole cauliflower takes up a whole lot more space than 4 ziplock bags of cauliflower rice or chopped segments.


  • The garden and garden sheds can be a hidden source of clutter gathering. If you have far too many pot plants, tools etc. consider selling the surplus on community boards.


  • Cleaning products, so often we buy a product and we don’t like it but then rather than throw it out we store it. A cleaning cupboard can be very compact, a couple of microfiber cleaning cloths, carb soda, vinegar and some essential oils like orange or lavender, a bottle of all-purpose dish liquid an old singlet or t shirt for cleaning glass and some eucalyptus oil for stubborn marks and an old toothbrush will tackle pretty much every cleaning job and they all fit neatly into a storage caddy.


Sometimes the process can, or will need to happen in two stages. If you are moving house you will have one opportunity while you are packing to weed out the surplus in your life. But be open to doing it again as you unpack, you’ll be surprised how a little time and a new home will shift your perspective.


I love finding a positive in everything, before we moved we had a huge crystal and porcelain collection, mostly inherited from family and rarely or never used. We also and a lot of household items and furniture we just couldn’t fit into our new home. By selling surplus items on eBay, Community Boards on Facebook and at our garage sale we raised enough cash to cover the cost of a professional removalist, a professional clean as well as paying for our new lounge suite. What we couldn’t sell we gifted to a local domestic violence charity, to give someone else who was starting over a head start.


And remember – If you want to make an easy job seem hard – just keep putting it off!


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