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How To - Before Moving

Guide to Downsizing to a Smaller Apartment


Rent checks — in most cases, this is the largest check (or Venmo payment) for many of us each month. So when the rent in your larger Cincinnati apartment becomes too much, you’ll need to think about downsizing to a less expensive apartment. And the prospect of downsizing and moving can be daunting. But before you get too stressed, look at the following hacks to make your smaller space livable.

1. Take Emotion Out of the Move

Taking emotion out of downsizing your home to a smaller apartment can be especially difficult as you go through the closets and storage spaces. All of a sudden you’re met with a rush of emotions and memories. This can be the case particularly if you’ve been in your current home for more than a few years. The thought of getting rid of certain items can cause anxiety, but ultimately decluttering is a cathartic experience. It will also make packing and moving that much easier (and cheaper).

Everyone has different strategies for deciding what will move to the new apartment and what will be left behind. First off, make sure to take plenty of time in advance to go through your items. The last thing you need is the stress of throwing things away coupled with the stress of packing and moving.

One of the most well-known and effective methods to decluttering your home is the KonMarie Method created by Marie Kondo. While this is touted as a way to organize your home, it definitely applies to moving as well. It focuses primarily on asking yourself if individual items in your home “bring you joy”. If they don’t, time to get rid of them!

Smaller Apartment

2. Moving, Selling/Donating, or Throwing Away

When organizing your items in preparation for a move, divide them into three categories: items you’re moving, selling/donating, and throwing away. We recommend taking pictures of the items you’re taking with you and keeping a list. This will be especially helpful when receiving quotes from moving companies.

To sell:

For items that you’d ideally like to sell, there are multiple options to help your things find a new home. Check out our top three choices below (along with an honorable mention for NYC residents):

  • Chairish: Another popular app for selling almost anything with millions of users. It’s great for reaching a wide audience and even has a “Free Stuff” section for donating items.
  • OfferUp: Another popular app for selling almost anything with millions of users. It’s great for reaching a wide audience and even has a “Free Stuff” section for donating items.
  • Facebook Marketplace: With over two billion users, it’s no wonder Facebook is a great option to find a local buyer for your used items. Of late, it has taken the place of Craigslist for many. The new Marketplace feature makes it easy to list an item with a picture and description, and puts it in front of other users in your area on the marketplace.
  • AptDeco: If you’re located in the Metro NYC area, AptDeco is a great option to sell your furniture (and maybe furnish your new place in the city). AptDeco handles pickup, delivery and payment processing for your items.

If you have large appliances that simply have no place in an apartment, take a look at our article on what to do if this situation arises.

To donate:

The Salvation Army and local Goodwill stores are great options to donate furniture and various other items around your home. Both organizations will even schedule pick-up and delivery of your items back to their location. Take a look at our blog post on this exact topic. Some moving companies will also offer specific boxes for items to be donated. Pro tip: Be sure to keep those receipts if you donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army come April for tax write-offs!

To throw away:

If you’re ready to simply throw away certain items, certain moving companies will offer a disposal service but this comes at an additional cost. If you’re moving from a condo or another apartment building, it’s best to ask the management on how to get rid of certain large items. Different cities also have different rules for when large trash items can be left on the street. Avoid a potential fine and do some research on your local laws when looking to get rid of large furniture items.

3. Take out the Tape Measure

The biggest challenge when downsizing is figuring out what will fit in the new space and what won’t. It’s helpful to begin by measuring all of your furniture items and keeping their dimensions in an Excel sheet. When looking at the new space use the dimensions you took down to come up with a solid floor plan.

This will also help you make some last-minute decisions on what you’re able to keep for the new place. That king size bed, however comfortable, probably just won’t fit in that Manhattan apartment without taking up the whole room.

4.Optimize Space

When coming from a large apartment or a house there is simply less space to store your things. At the risk of cramming your closets to the brim or leaving your new home feeling crowded, optimizing space is an important aspect of downsizing.

Getting furniture that doubles as storage space is a great apartment hack. Drawers under your bed, closet organization systems and anything else that serves a purpose but doubles as a place to put things is valuable.

Of course, the other option when downsizing is to rent a storage unit. Many moving companies offer storage services along with relocation. They’ll pick up your items and store them for as long as needed (and often give you a better rate for long-term storage).

Be sure to research your storage options in your new area. A closer facility may be more accessible but isn’t a reason to sacrifice quality. Checking for things like clean, climate-controlled units and an overall secure facility should be of top priority.

5. Do It Now

Finally, don’t waste any pre-move time. Rash decisions caused by procrastination can leave you with lots of extra stuff, or worse, cause you to lose things like that set of Beatle cards your uncle gave you that just were estimated at $3500 on Antiques Roadshow. Downsizing is never fun, and anyone that says they like it is lying. And the reasons for doing so vary in every instance. Perhaps you’re recently divorced and need to find a way to save money for your next house, so you’re downsizing. For whatever reason, you can make downsizing work for you.

By planning ahead and being organized, you can quickly sort your stuff, furnish your new but smaller place, and start binge-watching House of Cards sooner than you ever thought possible!

Thanks for reading and check out our other blog posts to learn more today!

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Unpakt Team