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How Do You Start Downsizing & Decluttering?

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A senior couple boxing up their belongings to move out and downsize to a senior living community

You’ve decided now is the time to downsize and clear out your home. Perhaps you’ve chosen to take advantage of the carefree senior living lifestyle. You’ve picked the perfect community and have a gorgeous suite with your name on it—there’s just no way all the stuff in your current house could possibly fit!

Before you give up hope of ever cleaning up and cleaning out your home, read our tips to start building a downsizing and decluttering plan. Knowing how to tackle your home and belongings can take some stress out of this big job.

Assess Your Space

Take stock of your current home, and compare it to the place you’re moving to. Look at your new home’s floor plan, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there fewer rooms in my new home?
  • How much storage can I access?
  • Do I have duplicates of things?
  • How much am I holding onto that I neither want nor need?

You may be able to eliminate entire rooms and areas of the house at a glance. For example, if you’re moving to a community where groundskeeping is an included service, landscaping and gardening tools that you’ve collected may not be of any use in your new home!

Give Yourself Time

Downsizing and decluttering can be an overwhelming process, especially if you’ve been living in the same home for many years or even decades. A surprising amount of stuff may have piled up. Some things are priceless and sentimental, but others may now seem like little more than junk.

A task like this shouldn’t be left until the last minute. If you have a plan in place to move into a senior living community, make sure you begin the downsizing process well before you’re set to move. Leaving plenty of time to tackle each room and each type of item (more on that later) can ease stress and allow the process to become an enjoyable walk down memory lane.

Bear in mind that this can also be a physically demanding job. Make sure you leave lots of time to take care of your body and rest when you need to.

A senior couple reflecting on their house as they pack up to move out

Embrace Your Emotions

This process can be surprisingly emotional. It may bring on intense feelings of nostalgia or even loss. Allow yourself time to feel whatever may arise, and share your feelings with someone if you need.

Scaling down your belongings can be an opportunity to share memories and build new bonds with loved ones. Reminisce with a friend or partner or pass on stories to younger family members.

Decluttering also offers a chance to build the excitement of opening up a new chapter in your life! Whatever feelings come up are likely the things you need to feel in that moment, so allow them to happen—even if the emotional bag seems mixed.

Get Rid of Trash, Gift Memories, Make Money, Make a Donation

Without a plan, this process may leave you with piles of stuff scattered around your house. Narrow down what will go where. Some simple categories to use are:

  • Heirlooms
  • Donations
  • To sell
  • Garbage


Not everything you’re going to find is going to be a keepsake, worth money, or even functional. For anything you find that’s broken, obsolete, or otherwise unusable, take it to the trash.  Clearing out things that have outlived their usefulness will leave you with more space to sort through the things you still want. 

If you’re sorting through a large home packed full of things you won’t want or need, it can be helpful to rent a dumpster or hire a service to remove the garbage.

To Sell

Decluttering and downsizing may present an opportunity to earn some small returns on your things. Have realistic expectations about your pricing; scour local buy-and-sell websites to check prices, or contact an appraiser for anything you think could be high-value.

You can do-it-yourself your sales by going online, taking things to local consignment retailers, or holding a garage sale. The choice is yours! 


Find a local charity you’d like to support and donate anything that’s still usable. Check the hours of larger donation centers, and speak with smaller charities to find out what they need. 

If you’re feeling especially philanthropic, you can move this step quite early in your downsizing plan. Learning what’s most needed at charities close to your heart may make decluttering easier. You may find yourself more willing to part with things knowing they’re going to a good cause.


If you’re holding onto keepsakes or family heirlooms, consider sharing them now! Your loved ones will get to enjoy the gift right away, and it frees up space for you.

Manage Paperwork Properly

If you come across old paperwork that is no longer necessary, you can shred anything with personal information. Check to see how long paperwork should be kept before you do this—tax information, for example, should be kept for 7 years. Important documents like birth and marriage certificates, wills, or powers of attorney you should always keep and have a safe place for them. 

Speak to a professional, like an accountant or lawyer, to check specific laws in your state. And don’t discount transitioning to digital records! Digital files can remove clutter and keep your space neat.

Prepare for an Exciting New Life Chapter

The task of downsizing and decluttering may feel overwhelming. But remember—at the end of the process you’ll get to take your most treasured possessions and the things you need to go experience a new lifestyle. With convenient services and amenities and a host of new friends waiting to meet you, you’ll be able to transition to a smaller home with ease.If you’re ready to downsize and experience the fun of a senior living community, contact us for a tour. Find motivation to start your decluttering process and look forward to a bright tomorrow.

Written by The Lodge at Truitt Homestead

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