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Tips for Downsizing to an Apartment

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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

Recent Answers

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By Tracy_Marie [1]08/30/2012

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!

By Marie Brack08/26/2012

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.

By susan [33]08/26/2012

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.

By VeniseW1 [1]08/26/2012

flylady.com has some great advice on this as well.

By Gloria Cormier [2]08/26/2012

We just moved also and I wanted to check all the boxes I hadn't check in years what was in them, then decided to just donate them. It was hard at first but then thought, heck I don't even know what's in here so give it away, it can't be too important. Hope this will help you.

By Patricia Mills08/26/2012

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.

By Joyce Lambert [27]08/25/2012

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.

By VBartlett [12]08/25/2012

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!

By Lee Anne Guryn [2]08/25/2012

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!

By Joan [13]08/25/2012

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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