Decluttering/Downsizing for a Move

Moving soon?

Quick tip

Declutter before booking your moving company.

Go ahead and get a free moving quote but most moving companies charge by weight so the more you’re moving, the more you’ll pay.

With some big moves costing a few thousand dollars, you’ll want to do what you can to save some money.

So, ready to downsize?

We’ve gathered all the tips you’ll need.

Let’s jump right in.

How to Downsize for a Move

Don’t let the list’s length intimidate you. Whether you need to declutter or downsize to a smaller home, you can make the most of limited items. (I’ve done it time and time again, and it’s actually kind of fun!) These tips will help you downsize and declutter like a pro.

1. Plan ahead

It’s hard to part with possessions if you don’t have a plan. One of the easiest ways to declutter is to plan out each item’s purpose and location. If you don’t have room for it, get rid of it to minimize clutter and maximize space.

2. Measure for furniture

Furniture is heavy and takes up a lot of room. If you’re downsizing, it’s time to decide which furniture to keep.

Take measurements of your new house and your furniture to see what fits and what doesn’t.

Is it cheaper to move your furniture or buy new?

3. Fill the space

Decluttering and downsizing for a move doesn’t mean you have to part with every potentially unnecessary item. If you have space to hang all your clothes, don’t feel obligated to get rid of your favorite sweaters! Fill the space you have with the items you need so it doesn’t look bare (unless you’re going for the minimalist look, of course).

4. Set time limits

This tip has two parts. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, set a 15-minute timer to go through the dreaded junk drawer or box in the attic. It makes the decluttering process manageable. Also, set a time limit to determine which items you can afford to get rid of. If you haven’t used it in a year and don’t plan to use it in the next year, you don’t need it.

5. Keep cherished items

Of course, not every belonging has to have a use. Some hold sentimental value.

If it’s too painful to lose, keep it! Place your favorite pieces from your grandmother’s china on a decorative shelf and use it as a conversation starter with dinner guests.

6. Find dual uses

Downsizing is easy if most of your belongings serve multiple purposes. For example, keep furniture that you can wheel around or fold. This makes them easy to store out of the way and pull out when necessary.

7. Digitize documents

Papers are the worst offenders in cluttered homes, so it’s necessary to purge your paperwork, bills, and documents. Hello, shredder.

Many items you can throw away and others can become a digital document stored on a flash drive or external hard drive. Unless you’re truly hipster, it’s time to say goodbye to those VHS tapes.

8. Give to others

Downsizing and decluttering provide great opportunities to give to others. Someone else may have a better use for your extra set of measuring cups or the doll from your childhood. You can give to family members and friends or a local charity.

9. Don’t overdo it

On the other extreme, some have the tendency to part with more belongings than they should. This leads to repurchasing those items later because they were still necessary. Make sure you take inventory of your belongings so you know what you have and need.

Also, moving companies set a minimum weight. This means, sometimes it may not make sense to get rid of your mattress.

Ask your moving company about minimum weights and be sure to use up all of the space and weight you’re granted for a particular price.

10. Decide What to Sell, Donate, and Toss

When you decide to get rid of items, you can do three things with them: sell, donate, or toss. Some items are so worn or broken that you have no choice but to throw them in the trash. Others can make you a few extra dollars or go to someone in need.

When to sell

It already costs money to move, so why not make a few bucks back in the process? Not every unwanted item is worth selling though. List items for sale if:

  • It’s in good condition.
  • It’s worth more than the price to organize the sale (this is especially true for garage sales).
  • You have the time and energy to organize the sale. There are multiple ways to sell items today, so choose the method that works best for you!

When to donate

You can also donate to local organizations instead of selling your extra possessions. Your standards may be a tad higher or lower, but you should typically only donate an item if:

  • It’s in good condition and doesn’t need repairs.
  • It’s sell-worthy, but you don’t care to organize a sale for it. Some organizations will also offer documentation for a tax deduction, so there’s still a monetary benefit for you!

Resources for Downsizing

Once you’ve decided what to keep and what to part with, how do you get rid of the excess items? There are several tried-and-true methods available to you. Whether online or in-person, you’ll find others that want your clutter!
Throw an old-fashioned yard sale

If you’ve got the time, organize a yard sale. This is a great way to get rid of multiple items over the course of a weekend or even an afternoon! If you go this route, make sure you advertise it beforehand. Set up signs in your neighborhood and put an ad on Craigslist. Additionally, advertise the sale for free on websites like,, and, which help others find yard sales near them.

Use websites and apps

If a physical sale isn’t your thing, post listings online and sell at your convenience. There are so many websites and apps available, with some sites narrowly focused and others as broad as your imagination. Popular ones include:

Simply post a picture and description with a sale price, and wait for others to contact you!

Many people cross-post the same item on multiple sites in an effort to sell the item faster.

Score tax deductions

Like selling, there are multiple avenues for donating unwanted possessions. If you give to select non-profit organizations, they’ll provide a receipt to present when you file taxes for the year.

It pays to donate to worthwhile causes!

Some thrift stores will even pick up your donations from your home for free. Box up and label the items, schedule your pickup donation time, and they take care of the rest! This leaves you more time packing and less time worrying about the items that aren’t coming with you.

Host a house “unwarming” party

Want to try something fun and different? Try a house “unwarming” party before you move! Unlike a housewarming event where you receive gifts from the guests, your guests can choose an item to rehome.

Be sure to set out snacks and have a good time socializing with family, friends, and neighbors. They’ll enjoy taking a new treasure home with them, and your move will become drastically lighter.

Feel Confident When Decluttering and Downsizing for Moving

Decluttering and downsizing for a move takes time, but the effort is worth it! When you realize all the items you don’t use or need, you can live simply and maximize the space in your new home. Good luck!

What’s the hardest part of decluttering and downsizing for you? Share it in the comments and you may find that you’re not alone!

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