Downsizing From a House to an Apartment

When moving into an apartment from a house, there are often many things you will no longer need or want. This guide is about downsizing from a house to an apartment.
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August 24, 2012 Flag
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I have to downsize from my house to an apartment. I have been in my house for years! And to be honest I am overwhelmed, does anyone have any tips?

By Lynda1972 from Kearny, NJ

August 25, 20120 found this helpful
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Nobody but you can really do it. You have to go through things and decide what you have to keep, what you haven't used for a year or more (these things can be gotten rid of). When it comes to furniture determine keep bedroom furniture for however many bedrooms you will have in your apartment. You also might have to get rid of some of your living room furniture. You have to pick and choose what you will take with you.

Back in the 80s I moved from a three bedroom house into a three bedroom townhouse which wasn't bad, because they both had basements. But then in the early 90s I moved into a two bedroom apartment and really had to downsize. I had several rummage sales before moving, donated a lot of what didn't sell, and threw a lot away. Every time I have ever moved I have downsized, drastically.

Even with downsizing my current apartment is crowded, because I have to have my computer in the living room, and I have a china cabinet that belonged to my parents, and there isn't anyplace else to have the china cabinet.

My kitchen is crowded because due to mobility problems I can't get to a lot of things in the bottom cabinets, and my balance isn't good enough to dare standing on a step stool to reach things on the high shelves in the upper cabinets, therefore, I have plastic shelving units to store things on. My bedroom also serves as a store room. Every now and then I go through things and get rid of stuff, trying to make more room. Good luck making your decisions and move.

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August 25, 20120 found this helpful
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Go through each room and pick 5 things you love. Box them up, next 5 things you really don't care about, box them up for donation or yard sale if you have time. Keep doing this over and over till you are done.

Or pretend you are going on a trip for a week and need say kitchen stuff, pick out what you would need for a week, pack it and get rid of everything else. Repeat in each room

We did this kind of move twice, once we moved from a 2400 square foot room to Saudi Arabia and could only take 6000 pounds. Then we did a move from a large house with a 27 foot Ryder trunk. At 2 am the truck was full and we had lots of stuff left. We woke a neighbor and gave him a dining table chairs, TVs and all kinds of stuff. Turns out his brother and family just came from Puerto Rico with nothing.

Both times I thought I would be devastated but I have never missed anything.

You can do this, it's a fresh start with just the stuff you love!

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August 25, 20120 found this helpful
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Oh, my; been there! 9 years ago, I downsized from my 3-bedroom condo to what would fit in my car. So, one step at a time, though do take at least a small step each day; if a room is too much to tackle, commit to filling one box, on a particular day. I sold items at a garage sale, gave things away (a lot of things), using it as a kind of meditation on attachment, since a lot of very personal things went to friends, relatives, neighbors.

Some items went into storage, though my daughter now has them, and I haven't seen them in years. Many things were donated to charity. Some tears fell, some fears were faced, and gratitude found its way in, since I knew the hard work I was doing meant that my children would be spared that tedious work, down the road. "How do you eat an elephant?"..."One bite at a time". Take the first step, and keep taking more little steps. Celebrate your coming lighter life!

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August 25, 20120 found this helpful
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Keep the best of what you have, it's time to use all of those things that you have saved for "one day". Treat your self! Do one room at a time. Tackle the hardest room first. Know where you're moving to? Sketch a layout of the apartment and "see" what fits where the best. Hope this helps, I have been doing the same thing. Wishing you the best with your move and new apartment.

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August 26, 20120 found this helpful
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Another suggestion: use craigslist.com to sell some items. I wouldn't do a garage sale as it is soooo much work. I donated a lot and gave lots away on freecyle.org. I downsized from a 4 bdrm house with garage and basement to a 2 bdrm apt. It was hard, but you won't miss what you give away. Enlist help if you can.

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August 26, 20120 found this helpful
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I just moved my mother into our small home. This summer I had a garage sale, what was left went to Goodwill. I used the money to build deeper shelves and add more shelves to the panty and closets. I also added small drawer units to each closet so I could eliminate dressers. We kept only clothes we currently wear and sorted all shoes, socks etc.

I got rid of nic-naks to make dusting easier and bought a lot of storage containers like photo boxes and plastic bins to organized drawers and shelves. It is sooooo freeing and now I can find anything I need. Should have done this years ago! FYI: I did not allow sentimental objects to rule over organizing my life.

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August 26, 20120 found this helpful
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I was fortunate to be able to downsize gradually through a series of moves and I learned a lot along the way.

For items that are sentimental but not of practical use, it's good to take a picture of it. You still have the reminder, but not the object taking up space.

I also recommend www.flylady.net for decluttering wisdom. 15 minutes at a time, and don't pull more out of a drawer or closet than you can finish and put back, otherwise it just adds to the overwhelming chaos.

You can go at it from perhaps three directions:

1. Stuff you know you don't want and don't care about. This can be bundled into the trash or a donation box or bag and taken out. You can go at that either one room at a time, or by making a superficial pass throughout the house until your bag or box is full. If you do this everyday the task will gradually start to feel more manageable.

2. Stuff you know you use and love. Basic things like the 3 most common size pots and pans, the 10 outfits you wear a lot, a couch a bed a table and chair. The functional things for bare living. Perhaps you can mark these with a colored sticky note or something, or list them.

3. Stuff that needs a decision to be made. You don't want it but it was Aunt Sallie's so maybe email a pic of it to the relatives and see who would like and use it. The next 10 outfits that you don't always wear but might want to.

If you work steadily every day at step one, removing the obvious, and give away things to people who will use them, gradually you'll find that things that were in category 3, needing a decision, become clear as either category 1 or category 2 and you find yourself deciding to let it go or realizing you will truly use it.

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August 30, 20120 found this helpful
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Decide which big furniture things you need to have. The basics, bed (with mattress & box springs), dresser, couch, 2 lamp stands, one by couch, other by bed. Empty the dresser. Return basic items you must have, like underwear and socks. Now fill the rest with things you wear all the time; (even if you usually hang them up) blouses/shirts, pants, skirts, dresses. Include shoes, slippers, nighties, bathrobe, etc.

When it's full, that's it! Drawers in lamp stands are for toiletries and office supplies respectively. Use a large suitcase for linens (including towels). When it's full, that's it! Medium size suitcase, kitchen stuff. What won't fit, buy again later from Goodwill. This is just essentials for when you move in. A small suitcase with legal/bank documents. Anything else is not needed for survival. Sell it.

Hobby equipment can go with you, but not supplies. For example, quilting. Keep sewing machine & equipment. Give away all cloth & threads. Hard? Yes. Fun to buy new later? Yes!

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August 26, 20120 found this helpful

May 7, 2010 Flag
1 found this helpful

I will be moving from my home to a apartment. I have over 60 years worth of stuff, both mine and my parents. Can anybody offer any ideas, I feel so overwhelmed.

By Lynda from Kearny, NJ

May 7, 20100 found this helpful
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Be ruthless in getting rid of accumulated stuff. Have a garage sale if you have the energy for it. If you want it done fast, call a clean-out company and pay them to hall away your junk. Yes, it is not frugal but the job gets done fast. Good luck.

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May 7, 20100 found this helpful
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Since 1983, I have had to move and downsize three times. You have to be ruthless in getting rid of stuff. I only have three large items of furniture from my parents and they are: a china cabinet that my Dad bought my Mother for their 50th anniversary in 1988 - I don't want it because it takes up too much space, but my developmentally disabled daughter that lives with me wants it, then I have a grandfather clock that my Dad made - he made one for each of us three girls, and themselves, and one to sell, my oldest daughter will want that, and then I have a small cabinet that my Dad made. I have two vases that belonged to my grandparents. I sold some items that I wish I had kept, but I wouldn't have had room for them. I threw a lot of stuff away and donated a lot of stuff. When I was going through things I didn't stop to think about getting rid of a lot of things, because I knew if I really thought about it I wouldn't get rid of enough stuff. I had lived in three bedroom with basement homes since 1964 and in 1983 when I moved into a three bedroom apt. with basement, I still had to get rid of a lot of things, it also makes moving easier.

Then in 1991 when I moved to another city into a really small two bedroom apt. I really had to downsize. Then in 1997 I moved to another city and into a larger two bedroom apartment but got rid of a lot of things, just to make moving easier, then in 2003 I moved to a two bedroom handicapped accessible apt. in the same complex and I had to get rid of more stuff because this apt. is a little smaller than the last one. I also go through things regularly and weed things out, trying to find more storage space. I kept all photos, some smaller collectibles that I have acquired. I kept most of the furniture that I had anything from the 1960s on. My bedroom set was bought in 1965, my upholstered furniture is relatively new. My dinette set is quite new. What I did was with the smaller items I sorted them into categories, and basically shut my eyes to toss some piles. Some of the furniture that you might not have room for, might could go to a consignment store.

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May 7, 20100 found this helpful
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# ! Yard Sale, #2 disperse various items to children and grand children. I asked each of my 'grands' to give me a list of things they would like to have and each time I visit them in other States, I take a load to them. AM Vets will pickup, Habitat for Humanity is nearby as are thrift shops which welcome most items.

You can do without 60% of what you are holding onto. Plus SHRED, SHRED, SHRED!

GOOD LUCK!

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May 8, 20100 found this helpful
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We recently moved from a huge 5 bedroom house that has been in our family since 1970 to a tiny singlewide 2 bedroom mobile home. Here is what we learned:

1) COLLECT & SAVE BOXES: We went to our local grocery store & asked them to hold their apple boxes for us. We knew the day of the week that the apples were delivered, so we went into the store that night & picked the empty boxes up. We started saving boxes a whole year in advance! Apple boxes work best because they are sturdy & the lid fits over the sides. so the sides are double-thick.

2) GIVE AWAY FREE STUFF: Going to the dump gets extremely expensive! (we must have gone at least 15 times wit a full pickup truck! So put as much free stuff on Craig's list as you can & give it away! ...And as you come across stuff you don't want, put it all in one room. Remember the Goodwill & Salvation Army give Tax Credit Receipts! So save the expensive stuff for the Goodwill. My mother got a receipt for her prized China & the Children's Hospital Thrift Shop got something they could sell to help others! I posted an ad on Craig's List (you can also use Freecycle.com) & we had people picking up all kinds of stuff you'd never think anyone would want! ...We made one mistake, when they took up the washing machine that worked, we should have made them take the dryer that needed an element as part of the deal... They are getting it for free *& likely re-selling it!) so don't let them take advantage of you!

3) GIVE A TIME LIMIT FOR PICKING FREE THINGS UP: I had a woman who kept saying she was going to come over & pick something up, but she never did & I was stuck with it! So tell them they have only 2 days to pick up a free item (or whatever you choose) or they forfeit! ...If they keep canceling, they aren't serious, so give the stuff to someone else!

* Also, as far as the free-stuff ads, be careful of who comes into your home & make appointments early in the day! Never let anyone into your home if you are alone!

4) E-BAY: You won't have time to do it yourself, but some towns have a place you can take your stuff into & for a percentage, they will take photos of your stuff & post it all on e-bay for you... You might think about doing this... OR, maybe you have a friend, or neighbor who is out of work (& needs $) & maybe you can make a deal to split the money if they take photos & post your stuff on e-bay & do all the shipping for you!

5) PAY NO STORAGE FEES: It's simply not worth it to pay $ 80 - $100 per month for storage fees! ... If you can't find a place for something, get rid of it! Those storage fees add up quickly & in no time, you've spend thousands of dollars!

6) SORT: Start at the door of the room you are packing/cleaning in & move around the perimeter in. Have 3 or 4 boxes or large heavy duty construction-size garbage bags (buy these large, thick construction bags at Walmart) ... Sort to "TRASH" - "GIVE AWAY" & "GOES SOME PLACE ELSE"... The reason for the "goes someplace else" bag or box is because you don't want to waste time running from room to room, so if you are cleaning & sorting a bedroom & you find a cup or plate, you don't want to have to take it to the kitchen right then (that's how we get distracted!)... So just chuck it in the "goes elsewhere" box or bag. I also sorted my-out-of-season clothes & stored them in large plastic totes & I raised up my bed & I keep my winter or summer clothes in plastic bins under my bed!

7) LABEL EVERYTHING: Need I say more!? Buy a roll of masking tape & a black marker pen (& label everything, even the large black garbage bags) I accidentally threw away a bag of my best fabrics, thinking it was something else! (It should have been labeled!)... Besides the black permanent marker, buy 3 rolls of tape, clear packing tape, duct tape & masking tape. Buy these at the dollar store. Also, keep a box of ziplocks near you. You'll need the regular size & also a box or two of the large, gallon zip-locks. Put your stuff into the zip-locks then press-down while your roll the bag to remove the air.

8) THE TWO YEAR RULE: Remember, if you haven't used something in the last 2 years, you may as well get rid of it! ... This doesn't apply to things like tools or sentimental family items. But get rid of as much as you can! You won't be sorry!

9) GARAGE SALES: Are a great big hassle & you make very little money! (we had 3 HUGE garage sales) but you may want to have one to get rid of some of your unwanted stuff, especially big stuff like furniture. Do five things, 1) Advertise in the paper &/or online, 10) post in the ad that you'll see NO ONE before the garage sale starts, 3) buy bright-neon colored poster board & make bright signs that all match with BIG lettering to direct people to your sale & remove the signs promptly. 4) Write "HUGE MOVING SALE" & draw big arrows. 5) Price things to move! & be sure to have a "FREE" pile or a "free" box. This is not a time to make huge sums of money, you just don't want to pay fees to take things to the dump. We had a huge treadmill that didn't work, so we put a "free" sign on it & someone hauled it away!

10) CALL GOOD WILL OR THE SALVATION ARMY FOR FREE PICK-UP: & set up a scheduled pick-up date... We placed all the stuff we didn't want in the room closest to the front door in boxes & garbage bags & the Salvation Army came by with their van & carried the stuff out for us. YOU MUST tell them they need to come with an empty van, first thing in the day! Also, don't wait till the last minute, because they kept making mistakes & coming with a full van. Finally with only 2 days before we had to be out of the house, they removed all the junk. Be sure to ask for the persons name when you schedule the pick-up in case something goes wrong with the scheduling!

11) RENT A HUGE TRUCK: When you finally move, rent a big moving truck... Because by the time you pay the price of gas to drive back & forth a dozen times, you could have rented a large truck for one day! Do yourself a favor, call around for truck rental prices, because in our area Budget & Ryder are MUCH cheaper than U-haul. Also it's usually cheaper to buy a dolly/hand truck than to rent one... I paid $20 for my dolly at Big Lots (a liquidation store) but for $30 Sears has a really nice one that changes from an upright dolly (like for fridges) to a flat dolly (for boxes)... You will need one of these!

PICKUP TRUCKS FOR RENT: Home depot has a small truck you can rent for an hour for only $20, so if you need to haul things or go to the dump & have no truck (or friends with a truck) you could rent one of these.

12) PROMISE THE WORLD: to get your family & friends to help you with the move, you may have to do some bartering with them! ...Have a big barbecue before you move or after you're settled to your new apartment to show your appreciation. Sometimes local high-schools have teens that need to earn their community service hours & you can try calling a local high schools for these teenagers to help carry boxes into the moving van.

13) ADDITIONAL STORAGE: Below are some ideas I've used to store things in a small place. You will need some Wire Storage Cube shelves (see link below)... I placed cube-shelves in my hallway, my craft area & in my bedroom. These wire-cubes are extra-nice because they are strong & configure to whatever shape & size you need. Also self-standing bookshelves are handy. And with a simple piece of wood & a fabric tablecloth you can turn your boxes or storage bins into a table or end-tables. Raise your bed up with bricks or sturdy plastic bed-risers (see link below). I took masking tape & taped a stack of 6 inch tiles together& used these tiles to raise my bed up another 8 inches for more storage. You can even have a custom bed frame made from 2 x 4's... My beds is made like this & I raised it up even higher so I have 2-1/2 feet under my bed for storage bins where I store my off-season clothes, yarn, fabrics & crafts.

* If you need even more space, you can buy a special bed. Have you seen the beds that are made to have a desk or couch under them (you may have seen one of these before they are made of black-metal-tube-frame, kinda like bunk beds, but without a second bunk underneath (instead they put a desk or a couch under the bed). These beds can be purchased for around $200. This type of bed would give you tons of additional storage, but remember you may hurt yourself trying to get down in the middle of the night!

WIRE STORAGE CUBES:

http://www.nextag.com/wire-storage-cube/stores-html

BED RISERS:

http://www.organize.com/bedrisers.h ... amp;gclid=CNThw_CDiKECFQP7agodjyZPaQ

14) RENT A FRIENDS GARAGE: These days it seems everyone is looking for ways to make a little extra money, so if you need temporary or permanent storage, you'd be far better off renting an area in a friends garage or an extra bedroom or closet (that's heated) Not only is it safer that a self-storage place, you won't get mold growing on your stuff from no heat & they won't auction-off your stuff if something happens & you fail to pay for 2 months!

15) FURNITURE: When you move, only use furniture that you can store things in. As Christopher Lowell (the decorator) says "If you can't go OUT, go UP!"... In other words, if you have no space to store things, you go up (build shelves along the wall)... Using grid shelves, cubes or cheap shelving.

16) COLOR: We all want color & when we have a choice to buy shelves or furniture in colors, white or wood color, most of us will choose the wood look, colors or black. But to make a place look larger, you want the furniture to match the wall's paint color. This means that white shelves will blend in better by matching the wall... So to make a place look larger, choose white shelves if you have a choice....

17) STORAGE IDEAS: On TV, Christopher Lowell once built a craft, sewing & computer area in a small area, using only 2 tall shelves & a hollow-core door.($30 each) He placed the 2 shelves facing towards each other & laid the door horizontally leaning on a shelf from each of the shelving units at the exact same height... (If you need additional storage or stability, use a filling cabinet (or 2) under the door/table) This little setup had storage for stuff on the shelves & a big table-area to do crafts or office work!

*For additional storage, use tall shelves instead of a headboard & place low shelves at the footboard of your bed. Walmart usually has the cheapest storage bins. I like the ones with the handles that lock over the top.

18) HAZARDOUS WASTE: Most city dumps have a place to bring your old paint, cleaning products & yard chemicals for free... So the first time you go to the dump ask them about this. You can also call your city or the county health department & ask them. I know that because our family lived in that house for 35 years, we found quite a lot of hazardous waste when we moved & you want to handle it responsibly! ...In our area, a person can simply go to the place (at the dump) where you bring these things & pick-up whatever they need at no cost. This is a great way to get free paint, fertilizers & cleaning products!

19) CAMOUFLAGE A CLOSET: Here's a great way to store extra things:

Hang a curtain (made from sheets) along a back wall in your apartment about 18 inches away from a wall. The curtains or sheets should be the same color as the wall (usually white in an apartment). In your own house you'd use "Hospital Track" but in an apartment, you can hang these sheets using tiny cup hooks (screwed into the ceiling) or thumb tacks & wire or clear fish-line to hold the sheets up. I have seen this "camouflaged-closet" before on TV & you can hardly tell it's there! ...You will only loose 18 inches of space, but you will gain a whole LOT of much needed storage!

---> Thankfully there were 3 of us doing all the sorting & packing when we moved! To help you not to feel "overwhelmed".. Just do only 1 room at a time & start at the door to that room & work your way around the room in a clockwise fashion... Always keep your 3 or 4 boxes or large bags near you & just start sorting! ...If you can sort (& pack) one room in 3 days, you're doing a super-FAST job!

---> Always keep a pad with you & make lists! Be sure to label every bag & box. This may sound like a hassle, but in the long run it will save you time & hassle!

BELOW IS A PHOTO OF THE WIRE STORAGE CUBES:

* I find these super-handy living in a small space!

Use a rubber mallet to put them together & take them apart.

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May 9, 20100 found this helpful
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When I got ready to downsize I went room to room and videoed each room before I changed anything. Oh, and don't forget the yard! When I got to each room I talked about different memories that each room held. I spotlighted a particular mirror that I would not have room. I talked about where i got it and why it was special to me. That was 2 years ago. I've watched my video a couple of times and I get enjoyment not sadness out of revisiting my things that I gave away & sold. My grown kids have even watched it and they want a copy of mamas house.

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May 7, 20100 found this helpful

It is true; you have to be ruthless. I downsized to appt living several years ago and got tired of dragging around mementos of my kids. I had saved so many drawings etc from them. Some things my kids don't want me getting rid of but then they don't want them in their house. I was also dragging around school yearbooks. I tore out pages with me in the pictures and other things I wanted to remember and then I threw out the rest. I'm still holding on to things that belonged to my Mother like an old blanket that's seen it's last days but I still have not been able to part with it. Still holding on to old dishes of hers that I don't even use. Don't think they are considered antiques but I still can't part with them and she died nearly 10 years ago.

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May 7, 20100 found this helpful

I went through that when my parents died. A huge house stuffed with everything. They replaced the screen door 29 years before and still had the old one in the garage which you could not walk through. I am of the "push it all out" school. I started in the back of the house and cleared one room at a time. If it was a family heirloom I set it aside. The rest I gave away to any charity that would come and get it. What no charity wanted I had to pay a junk man and he took five loads. I dispersed the heirlooms through out the family down to neices and nephews. Everybody got something. My father was a military man and had lots of war memorabilia. There was china, silver etc for all the girls. I did not sell any of my parent's things. I could not keep it but it is still in the family. If you are collecting things to pass on, my advise is to keep it small, like jewelry.

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May 7, 20100 found this helpful

Why PAY someone to haul it away? Put it on www.freecycle.org & people will haul it way for free!

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July 10, 2012 Flag
3 found this helpful

Don't forget to keep in mind one very important thing. How far will I have to carry my groceries and everything else before getting to my apartment?

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