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October 27, 2015

How To Downsize with Minimal Trauma

Last Spring I received the heartbreaking news that my landlord was selling my house. Despite my insistence that possession is nine tenths of the law (It isn’t, actually), I had to move. What I hadn’t realized in my five or so years living there was that I wasn’t paying near the market value for my 3 bed/2.5 bath house.

What quickly became apparent was that I was going to have to downsize. And it wouldn’t be easy…emotionally, physically, or logistically. I eventually found a dodgy 2 bed/1 tiny bathroom duplex in a safe area with a fenced in backyard for my pup that I could afford. After scouring my new hovel with bleach, I was ready to reluctantly move in.

If you are also facing a similar reversal in fortune, allow me to share my best tips on how to cope.

1.  Lie to yourself.

My tiny house doesn't look like this, but I like to pretend it does.

My tiny house doesn’t look like this, but I like to pretend it does.

Moving to lesser dwelling is traumatic, and you need to keep a positive attitude, my friend. By describing your new pad as “bohemian”, “cute”, and telling yourself it “has character,” you’re helping to train your brain to actually believe these totally untrue things. I’m not kidding.

2.  Let the purging begin.

Anyone with a basic understanding of physics knows you can’t fit everything from a larger house into a smaller one.

Start with the big stuff. Will that dining room table fit in your eat-in kitchen? Do you really have a place for that guest bed now that you no longer have a guest bedroom? These will all be very obvious items. After you’ve dropped these massive space-occupiers off at the donation center, you’ll have more room to sort through everything else.

Farewell, Guest Bed.  I still think fondly of you.

Farewell, Guest Bed. I still think fondly of you.

Next, go to the opposite end of the spectrum with the smallest stuff. If you’re about to lose closet space, take this opportunity to bag up everything you don’t absolutely love and think you look great in. Any needless knicknacks with no sentimental value can be boxed up during this phase too, along with extra kitchen utensils, books you never plan to read, accessories, and cookware you don’t really use anymore.

3. Begin the move.

This is the part of your moving process wherein you realize you thought you had way more room in your new digs than you actually do. It’s the hardest part, because you thought the purging was over. Take a deep breath, and let it go. Don’t try to convince yourself that coffee table fits somewhere when you know the only way you can possibly get around it is to climb over it.

4.  Tackle the medium stuff.

By now you’ve dealt with the big stuff and the little stuff.  Now you’re stuck between two homes with a bunch of medium-sized stuff that has to go somewhere. You just spent a lot of time moving and are probably sick of it by now. This is the best time for you to take a good honest look at that floor lamp you only bought because it was on sale and decide if you really want to deal with finding a place for it.

5. Have a party.

I eventually found wall space for the giant squid.

I eventually found wall space for the giant squid.

After your belongings are in their proper place (in your home or donated), celebrate! You just survived one of the most stressful situations you will have to deal with in your lifetime…according to this random article I just found. You’ve also just donated a bunch of stuff you didn’t really need that can now go on to help others. That’s gotta feel good.

The best way to make your new place feel like home is to surround yourself with the people you love…you know…the people who helped you through all of this. At the end of the day, “stuff” and “space” don’t matter nearly as much as the people you share both of these things with.