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  • Writer's pictureCathy Borg

How to Make Downsizing Decisions you won't Regret!

Updated: Oct 24, 2022


You're selling your home and moving.

You might be retired, an empty-nester, a remote worker, or a grandparent.

You may be moving because: you want to be near your children or friends; you desire the security of a condominium, you seek the excitement of moving to another country or you need senior-specific housing.

The reasons are many and so are the decisions you must make as you downsize from one residence to another.

Moving to a new home is an exciting time but it does require some planning and decisions in particular those concerning what to do with your belongings.

Before you start packing and filling up boxes, use this guide to figure out what you want to stay with you and what should go.

Don't pack things that you don't need, want or love.

With advance planning, you can certainly avoid the major pitfall of trying to pack absolutely everything and then finding out that it doesn’t work in your new home. This strategy will drive you crazy and add to the stress and confusion of a major move.

The single most effective packing tip that we've found is to purge before you pack. It will save you time, money, and possibly your sanity.


By purge we mean

to sell, give to friends and family, donate, recycle, or trash anything that you no longer need, want, or love. In this article:


*Find out how to choose what to keep and what to let go of by learning how to Evaluate Your Belongings.

*Discover the choices you have for getting rid the stuff that you don’t want or that no longer serves you.

So, You know you have a lot of extra stuff that you don’t want to move, and the question that may be nagging you is -

How do I get started?

How can I determine what to purge and what to keep?

Well, the first step is to evaluate your belongings.

In this first step, you’re not going to do any purging yet.

You're going to take pen and paper and tour your space.

Take a walk through your house, room by room, and conduct a survey of which of your belongings stays and which goes. by asking yourself the following:

Six Simple Questions to Decide what Stays and what Goes:

  1. Will this actually fit in my second home? (if you’re downsizing, it may be too large, so now might be a good time to get rid of it.)

  2. Will it match the décor in my second home? (A heavy ornate dark wood armoire for example may not look good in the sunroom of your beach house.)

  3. Is this something that I really want to keep? Or am I holding onto it out of a sense of guilt because it was a gift, or because I paid a lot of money for it?

  4. Is this something that I can sell at a garage sale or easily dispose of it in another way such as Kijiji or Craig’s list?

  5. Is this an old item that should have been replaced years ago? If so why not put it out on the curb or take it to the dump.

  6. Is this something that I haven’t touched in five years, and that I probably won’t touch or use for another five?

Yes I'm keeping it, No I'm purging it or Maybe I'll keep it List

As you Evaluate your Belongings, put each item on a “yes”, “no” or “maybe” list.

Items on the “yes” list will remain with you. Those on the “no” list will be purged and those on the “maybe” list may or may not remain with you.

When you create your “yes” list, organize items by room. Have one page for the kitchen, another for the living room, and so on. Then whoever is packing up each room can use the appropriate list as a reference.

When it comes to the “maybe” list try these questions and suggestions to help you decide when to let go:

  1. Why do I have this?

  2. Is this something that is beautiful, useful, or well-loved?

  3. Does this item fit my vision of how I want to live my life?

  4. Do the toss step when you are fresh because it takes a lot of energy and you want to give yourself the best chance of success.

  5. A simple exercise is to hold the object, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask, "Should I keep this?" If your answer is yes, you will feel your body lift and expand. If not, your body will sink or get tired. It is time to let go.

  6. Am I holding on to the item for the memories? Will the memories still exist without the item? Could I photograph the item or keep only a part of the collection for the memory?

*Some of these items may now go to the yes or to the no list.

This brings you to the “no” list and you are ready to purge.

By the way - Purging doesn’t mean your possessions are automatically allocated to the garbage heap. Indeed that is often the last option.

If you give yourself some time and space to make informed decisions, your unwanted stuff may find a second life with someone else. As we know one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

What to do with the things you don't want.

Purging or sorting through Unwanted Items

Steps you should take to begin purging or sorting the unwanted items.


Label 4 boxes: recycle, donate, sell, distribute

Labelling these boxes keeps you on track and prevents them accidentally being packed when you move.


  • Take your “no” list; start with the rooms in the house that are least used. This is also where the least used items will be. It will make it easier to get rid of many items, giving you quick results and improving your motivation.

  • Choose one room and collect the items to be purged. It is important to finish one room, closet, or cabinet before moving on to another one.

  • You don’t have to do this all at once and you can also enlist help.

  • Set aside a block of time anywhere from 15 min. to 3 hours depending on your schedule and energy level.


Sort these items into the appropriate boxes.

*A good tip is to get everything that you aren’t keeping out of the room you are decluttering immediately and out of the home as soon as possible. (Put it directly in the trunk of your car so that you're not tempted to take something back.)

If you have a lot of stuff to be disposed of, you may want to hire a company to take it away. They will recycle, donate and trash items as you have sorted them.

If you have a lot of things to sell, consider an on-line auction sale such as MaxSold. Check out our article "How MaxSold Works: Sell the Things You Don't Want to Move!"

Another TIP: Always do the PURGE when you are fresh because it takes a lot of energy and you want to give yourself the best chance of success. Also do it in manageable chunks – don’t try to do it all in one day. It always takes 50% longer than you think it will. Beware of decluttering fatigue. It is real and can lead to poor decisions.

Decluttering and purging will save you time, money and aggravation.

When you start moving boxes, you’ll be glad that you decided not to save everything and that you took the time to figure out early precisely what you wanted to do with your stuff.

You’re moving into a new home. You deserve to give yourself a fresh start, and move into a cleaner, less cluttered space. Think of how it will feel to unpack and organize your new home with only the things you really want, really need, and really love.

Finally, we're here to help if you need it. Click here to connect and find out how we can support and help you.

83 views2 comments


Jul 19, 2022

Great questions to ponder whether to keep something or not. I've been doing a lot of decluttering knowing in the back of my mind that we may be downsizing within the next little while. But even if we don't, just having around what actually serves us would be awesome!

Cathy Borg
Cathy Borg
Jul 19, 2022
Replying to

Yes, asking thr right qestions really helps you gain perspective. Thanks for your kind comments. I'm sure you've found that starting to declutter early gives you time you need to make decisions you won't regret..

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