Each move we have managed for our clients is as unique as the beautiful people we have had the privilege of serving, yet we have found the secret to a smoother downsize move has one thing in common: planning the ideal Order of Operations!

Order of Operations – isn’t that a math term? Yes, and I confess I can hardly remember the sequence for solving mathematical equations. But the concept of approaching a problem or task in a certain order works especially well in the downsizing process.

There are always exceptions to the rule, but when our clients allow us to guide them using this step by step method, the results are almost always a less stressful, smoother move.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Define Priorities – what type of living space fits now? What type of amenities and support are needed or desired? What are your reasons for making this type of significant lifestyle change?
  2. Set a Time Frame – the ideal time frame from beginning the downsizing process to being fully moved in to the next home is 2-4 months. This gives people time to sort and purge, gift items to family & friends, sell or donate items not wanted, and arrange all the details involved in moving. TIP: Shorter time frames sometimes cause more stress; longer time frames can keep people stuck.
  3. Sort Completely First – tag items you know you want to move to your new home first. Then go room by room and tag things you want to gift, sell or donate. TIP: Have lots of trash and recycle bags on hand, as you will find items neither you nor a donation center will want. ANOTHER TIP: Keep an inventory of the main items you are moving. This will help you get more accurate estimates from moving companies.
  4. Create a Floor Plan – if you haven’t made a decision on the specific place you will move to, get a floor plan from one of the communities you visited that is similar in style and size. Measure your furniture and sketch it onto the floor plan or use a free floor planning software like Smartdraw. You’ll have a better idea of what will actually fit in your new space. TIP: allow enough room between furniture and around doors for trip-free walking.
  5. Take Photos of Everything – there are 3 reasons why you want to take photos of everything. 1) It captures memories of belongings that have sentimental value but no longer serve you; 2) Makes selling items easier; 3) Enables you replicate the surroundings of your new home so it looks and feels more like your current home.
  6. If possible, Move Before You Put Your Home for Sale. This allows you the luxury of returning to finish sorting and decluttering if needed. If that’s not possible, use the garage or off-site storage units to place belongings temporarily so the home can be fully decluttered, cleaned, staged and prepped for sale.
  7. Make a plan for liquidating items you are not keeping. Estate sales are often the fastest and most financially beneficial way to sell stuff, but they need to be booked in advance. If there are not enough items of value for an estate sale, then other options like auction galleries, consignment stores, online sales or liquidators can be used. Choosing ahead of time where to donate your belongings is very helpful in letting go.

Using this format can help reduce the overwhelm that a complex, emotionally challenging lifestyle change a little easier. For a comprehensive guide that has tons of ideas and resources, order our workbook “How to Make a Downsize Move – Your Guide to a Rightsized Lifestyle.”