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Downsizing to a Small Apartment

Five Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive

packed moving boxes
Moving from a full-size, single-family home into a small apartment can be a big change. You’ll likely have to get rid of a lot of things and put some items in storage in order to make the move possible. The reality of donating your extras and packing everything else into storage can be harder than it seems, so follow these tips to survive and thrive through your radical downsizing process.

Don't Rent Too Large of a Storage Unit

Unless you plan on moving back into a larger home in the near future, renting too large a storage unit will just tempt you to keep more items you don't really need and will probably never use again. If you rent a smaller 5' x 10' or 10' x 10' unit and challenge yourself to keep only what you can fit inside, you'll be forced to whittle your collection down to the essentials. Plus, renting a smaller storage unit typically costs less than renting a larger one. 

Organize Your Stored Items Carefully

You should really only be storing items you're pretty sure you will need again at some point in the future. For instance, a storage unit is a good place for holiday decorations and out-of-season clothing. To ensure you can access these items easily when you do need them again, pay close attention to organization as you pack your storage unit. Follow these basic organization tips:
  • Label every box clearly and on several surfaces so you can see the labels without moving a lot of boxes.
  • Place similar items in the same box and multiple boxes of similar items next to one another.
  • Choose boxes of the same size so you can stack them evenly without having to experiment with which boxes fit together the best.
Forcing yourself to organize everything you put in storage will also encourage you to get rid of non-essentials. The more you keep, the more you’ll have to keep organized.

Don't Keep Anything "Just In Case"

When you move from a big home into a small apartment, you just don't have the space to keep things "just in case." If you cannot immediately come up with a way you'll be using the specific item in the next six months to one year, then you do not need that item. You should sell it, donate it or throw it away.

Find a Charity You Can Get Behind

Getting rid of things can be tough, but it's easier when you know they will be put to good use by people who need them. Look for local charities whose work you can really identify with. Homeless shelters, women's shelters, local churches and thrift stores are all good places to consider. If you have items that your charity of choice cannot use directly, consider selling them. Even if you get only a few dollars, it's easier to part with an item in exchange for cash than it is to throw it in a trash can.

Consider Buying New Furniture

If you can afford to do so, it may be worth your while to buy new furniture for your smaller apartment rather than trying to make pieces from your older, larger home work. Smaller apartments usually call for furniture that is more compact; your overstuffed sofa and huge headboard may take up too much space to be practical. Look especially for furniture that serves multiple purposes. Here are a few examples:
  • Chairs that fold out into lounge beds
  • Tables that fold up against the wall and serve as mirrors
  • A console table with a leaf to turn it into a dining room table
Choosing furniture that's specifically suited to your small space will leave more room for other essentials, meaning that you won't have to get rid of as many things.
The first step to downsizing is renting a storage unit from a company like Blanco Self Storage. You can then decide what to keep, donate and throw away, following the tips above along the way. Call the company of your choice as soon as you’re ready.