Carol’s Downsizing Journey – Preparing to Move

Downsizing would challenge the best of us. Between juggling the emotions that arise with ‘letting go’ of certain items to the physical challenge of determining what to do with everything that’s left over, there’s a reason that moving is deemed one of the most stressful life events. Going from a 4 bedroom townhouse to a 2 bedroom apartment in a retirement village required a little planning and lots of effort.

“It’s been a very big step but I’ve enjoyed the process. Having said that, I found it very stressful trying to move and to do everything on my own. Trying to think about what I could take and what I couldn’t take” says Carol.

Carol now resides happily on the other side of the move and has kindly agreed to share with us the highs, the lows and the learnings she experienced throughout the process.  All the hard work has now paid off and she’s been able to adjust and transition into her new home fairly seamlessly. Carol also shares some sound advice for those contemplating a similar move.

Click HERE to see the video of Carol’s Downsizing Journey and makeover.

The Decluttering Process

When you’re moving from a 4-bedroom family home to a 2-bedroom retirement unit, it’s fair to say that you’re going to have to find other homes for a number of your items. “I was in my other house for 15 years. In that time, you accumulate a lot of stuff, too much really.” She continues, “So far as a decluttering process, I did what I could before the move, however, three weeks beforehand I had the flu which made it very difficult to work out what I was going to take. I vaguely knew what I could fit in but to take the immediate pressure off, I brought with me a lot of items that I could have actually discarded before the move.

Decluttering can be therapeutic but when items have a certain sentimental value, the process can also prove to be an emotional challenge. Carol says, “I actually held onto a lot of sentimental things; items from my mother and grandparents; and then items like furniture were easy to give away. There’s no sentimental value to this furniture. It was a case of when I got here I thought ‘I can’t fit that in’ and a lot of those things went to the kids.

As with every change in lifestyle there were particular pain points in the process. In terms of the decluttering stage, Carol cites that preparation is key. “Do as much as you can before you move,” she says,  “I was very stressed out, a bit depressed I think – I got stressed out with all my ‘stuff’ – questioning myself and wondering what I was doing.

Working Out What Will Fit

Working out what will fit is a often a confronting part of the process. Having acquired key pieces of furniture for the size of house you are in has cost you time and money to achieve. So the thought of selling larger items for much less than was paid can feel wasteful. In a smaller space, it’s important to avoid overcrowding the rooms. Sometimes the only solution is to sell the bulky furniture and start fresh with smaller items.

In Carol’s case, she had a great desire to retain her lounges, dining table and her sideboard. Carol says, “I’ve got heaps of storage in my sideboard. If I didn’t have that I don’t know what I would’ve done!”

To be sure this would actually be achievable, we arranged for Bettina Deda (who wrote the Downsizing With Style book) to consult with Carol for a couple of hours. She helped Carol obtain a floorplan of the new apartment and then set about working out which items of furniture would fit and helped pre-plan their placement.


Pressed for time before move date, Carol decided to use a packing/moving service. “In terms of moving the big things, this was great, but unfortunately when they were packing/boxing up certain items the boxes weren’t marked as clearly as I would have liked, so items that should be in the new place were left down in my garage for some time. If I’d had the time and thought about it I would’ve done the packing myself because unpacking at the other end has certainly been the hardest part of the process.”

Personalising the New Place

Prior to moving into the new place, Carol planned to have a whole host of renovations done to make the apartment more to her taste. From new window shutters to a brand new kitchen, it was all part of Carol’s desire to make the apartment her new home to be proud of.  Carol says: “The most important room in my new home is the kitchen. As long as I can find everything I need to cook, I’m happy.”

With her passion for cooking revealed, the Howards team leapt at the opportunity to customise the organisation in this area.

Would Carol recommend Living with Less?

“There’s a lightness and a freedom to it,” she says, “Living with less is an opportunity for a fresh start, to do everything new again and now that I’m here I don’t really miss anything.”

The Next Stage – Post Moving In

After Carol moved in, the Howards team did an organisation makeover on her kitchen.

“It’s absolutely fabulous! It looks out of this world. It’s going to be so much easier to cook – everything is grouped together and easy to find. I can’t stop looking at it.”

To read about the makeover click here.

To see the makeover video click here.

Many thanks to Carol for allowing the Howards team into her new home. It was a pleasure to help organise such a lovely space. If you are downsizing, we encourage you to talk with your local Howards store about ways to be better organised in a smaller space. There are many simple strategies you can put in place that can make a meaningful difference to the way you live.

© Copyright Howards Storage World, 2015.

Article accurate as at July 2015.