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How to Downsize Your Home: The Best Tips for a Happier, More Organized Life

Updated: Mar 29

how to downsize your home
Photo Credits: Canva

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you have in your home? Do you want to simplify your life and save money on maintenance, utilities, and taxes? If so, you may be ready to downsize your home and enjoy the benefits of living with less.

What Does Downsizing Your Home Mean?

Downsizing your home means moving from a larger home to a smaller one, usually because you don’t need or want as much space or maintenance. It can also help you save money, time, and energy, and simplify your life. When downsizing, you have the option to sell your current larger home or rent it out. If you need some home-selling tips, you can read them here.

Downsizing your home is not just a matter of moving to a smaller place. It also involves decluttering, organizing, and prioritizing your belongings and your lifestyle. It can be a challenging and emotional process, but also a rewarding and liberating one. Watch the video below if you want to avoid the same mistakes my parents made when they finally decided to downsize their home.

5 Reasons Why People Downsize Their Homes

1. Empty Nesters

As children leave the nest, empty nesters are often left with one or more unused bedrooms. The extra space can feel isolating and become difficult to manage as you age. Downsizing to a smaller home close by friends and community support can be ideal.

2. Seniors Seeking Easy Living

For seniors facing mobility challenges, multi-level homes with stairs pose safety risks over time. Plus, yard work, house maintenance, and extra rooms to heat and cool become burdensome. The convenience of single-level living is a game changer.

3. Financial Hardship

Job losses, economic downturns, and unmanageable budgets force some households to downsize out of necessity. The monthly expenses for utilities, taxes, and upkeep are drastically less for smaller living spaces.

4. Simplifying Lifestyle

Some homeowners decide to intentionally simplify their lifestyle in retirement. Less home to care for equates to more time to pursue hobbies, travel, and enjoy family. For minimalists and sustainability-focused individuals, downsizing also reduces environmental impact.

5. Accessibility

As we age, being located close to healthcare services and public transit becomes increasingly worthwhile. For those with limited mobility having everything situated conveniently on one level home makes daily living much less demanding.

What are the Benefits of Downsizing Your Home?

  • Save Money and Time. Downsizing your home can help you save money on mortgages, insurance, taxes, utilities, and maintenance. You can also save time on cleaning, organizing, and repairing your home. You can use the money and time you save for other purposes, such as investing, traveling, or pursuing your hobbies and passions.

  • Simplify and Declutter Your Life. Downsizing your home can help you simplify and declutter your life by getting rid of the excess stuff and space that you don't need or use. It can help you focus on the things that matter the most to you, such as your family, friends, health, and happiness. You can also enjoy a more minimalist and stress-free lifestyle, with fewer distractions and obligations.

  • More Flexibility and Mobility. Downsizing your home can give you more flexibility and mobility to live where you want and how you want. You can choose a home that suits your current and future needs, preferences, and lifestyle. You can also move more easily and frequently, if you desire, without being tied down by a large and expensive home. It will be ideal to explore new places and opportunities and have more freedom and adventure.

What are the Disadvantages of Downsizing Your Home?

  • Less Space and Comfort. Downsizing your home may mean that you have less space and comfort for yourself, your family, and your guests. You may have to compromise on the size, layout, and features of your home, and adjust to a smaller and cozier living environment. You may also have to deal with the noise, privacy, and security issues that may come with living in a smaller or denser place.

  • Give Up Some of Your Belongings and Memories. When you downsize your home, it may require you to give up some of your belongings and memories that you have accumulated over the years. You may have to part with some of your furniture, appliances, clothes, books, or collections that you have grown attached to or that have sentimental value to you. Additionally, you may have to say goodbye to some of the memories and experiences that you have shared with your family and friends in your old home.

  • Emotional and Practical Challenges. It can be an emotional and practical challenge to downsize your home, especially if you have lived there for a long time or if you have a strong attachment to it. You may face some resistance, reluctance, or regret from yourself or your family members, who may not share your vision or enthusiasm for downsizing. You may also face some difficulties, expenses, and risks in finding, buying, and moving to your new home, such as the availability, affordability, and quality of the homes in your desired area, the competition and negotiation with other buyers and sellers, and the packing and transporting of your belongings.

How to Downsize Your Home

how to downsize your home - declutter
Photo Credits: Canva

Downsizing your home is not a one-time event, but a gradual and ongoing process. It requires planning, preparation, and patience. Here are the main steps you need to follow to downsize your home effectively:

1. Assess your needs and wants

The first step is to determine what kind of home and lifestyle you want to have after downsizing. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How much space do you need and use?

  • What are the essential features and amenities you need in your home?

  • What are the things you love and value the most in your home?

  • What are the things you can live without or compromise on?

  • How do you want to spend your time and money after downsizing?

  • Where do you want to live and why?

These questions will help you clarify your vision and your priorities for your new home and your new life. It will also be helpful to create a list of criteria and a wish list for your ideal home, such as the size, location, style, price, and condition.

2. Declutter and organize your belongings

The next step is to sort through your belongings and decide what to keep, sell, donate, or discard. This is probably the most difficult and time-consuming part of downsizing, as it involves letting go of things that may have sentimental, emotional, or financial value to you.

However, it is also the most rewarding and liberating part, as it will help you eliminate clutter, free up space, and make room for the things that matter the most to you. Here are some tips to help you declutter and organize your belongings:

  • Start early and work in small batches. Don't wait until the last minute to start decluttering, as it can be overwhelming and stressful. Instead, start as soon as possible and work on one room, category, or area at a time. For example, you can start with your clothes, books, or kitchenware.

  • Use the four-box method. As you go through your items, sort them into four boxes: keep, sell, donate, or discard. Be ruthless and honest with yourself. Only keep the things that you use, need, or love. Sell the things that have value and that you don't need or want. Donate the things that are in good condition and that can benefit someone else. Discard the things that are broken, damaged, or expired.

  • Follow the one-year rule. A good rule of thumb to help you decide what to keep or get rid of is the one-year rule. If you haven't used, worn, or looked at something in the past year, chances are you don't need it and you won't miss it. Get rid of it and free up some space.

  • Use the KonMari method. Another popular and effective method to declutter and organize your belongings is the KonMari method, created by Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo. The KonMari method is based on the principle of keeping only the things that spark joy in you. To apply this method, you need to gather all your items by category, such as clothes, books, or papers, and then hold each item in your hands and ask yourself: "Does this spark joy?" If the answer is yes, keep it. If the answer is no, thank it and let it go.

  • Digitize and store your documents, photos, and memorabilia. One way to reduce the amount of physical stuff you have is to digitize and store your documents, photos, and memorabilia online or on a hard drive. This way, you can preserve your important and sentimental items without taking up space. You can also use cloud services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud, to store and access your files from anywhere.

3. Sell, donate, or discard your unwanted items

Once you have decluttered and organized your belongings, you need to get rid of the items that you don't want to keep. There are different ways to do this, depending on the type, condition, and value of your items. Here are some options to consider:

  • Sell your items online or offline. If you have items that are in good condition and that have some value, you can try to sell them online or offline and make some extra cash. You can use platforms such as eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or OfferUp to sell your items online, or you can organize a garage sale, a yard sale, or a flea market to sell your items offline.

  • Donate your items to charity or someone in need. For items that are in good condition and that can benefit someone else, you can donate them to charity or to someone you know may need them. You can use online platforms to find people in your community who are looking for the items you have. It will be ideal also to donate them to local charities, your local church, school, or shelter. Some charities may even offer to pick up your items for free.

  • Discard your items responsibly. For stuff that is already broken, damaged, or expired, you need to discard them responsibly. If you know any local waste management company or municipality in your community, find out about their recycling and disposal programs and policies.

4. Find and buy your new home

Once you have decided to sell your house (and make a profit out of it) and have prepared everything you need to move to a new home, the final step is to find and buy your new home that suits your needs, wants, and budget. This can be an exciting and fun process, but also a challenging and stressful one. You need to do your research, compare your options, and negotiate the best deal. Here are some tips to help you find and buy your new home:

  • Use online tools and resources to search for homes. You can use online tools and resources, such as Zillow, Trulia,, or Redfin, to search for homes that match your criteria and your wish list. These tools can help you to compare prices, features, amenities, and neighborhoods of different homes. Online calculators are available online to estimate your mortgage, taxes, insurance, and other costs.

  • Hire a professional real estate agent to help you. You can also hire a professional real estate agent to help you find and buy your new home. A real estate agent can provide you with expert advice, guidance, and support throughout the process. He can help you with finding the best financing options, negotiating the best price and terms, handling the paperwork and legal issues, and closing the deal. To find a good real estate agent, you can ask for referrals from your friends, family, or coworkers, or you can use online platforms to find top-rated agents in your area.

As a professional real estate agent in Des Moines, Iowa, you can book a free consultation with me. I can help you find the best home for your needs, wants, and budget, and make the downsizing process easier and smoother for you. Just click the image below to schedule a call with me and I will get in touch with you soon.

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  • Visit and inspect the homes you are interested in. Once you have narrowed down your options, you need to visit and inspect the homes you are interested in. You need to pay attention to the condition, layout, size, and features of the homes, as well as the neighborhood, location, and surroundings. You should look for any potential problems, such as leaks, cracks, mold, pests, or structural issues. It will be best to hire a professional home inspector to conduct a thorough and objective inspection of the homes and provide you with a detailed report of their findings and recommendations.

  • Make an offer and negotiate the deal. After you have found the home you want to buy, you need to make an offer and negotiate the deal. You need to determine how much you are willing and able to pay for the home, based on - based on your research, the market value, and the demand for the home. You also need to consider your budget, your financing options, and your contingencies. There are online tools such as Zillow, Trulia, or, to help you find out the estimated value and the selling history of the home. You can also consult with your real estate agent to get their professional opinion and guidance. Submit your offer to the seller or their agent, along with a letter explaining why you want to buy the home and what makes you a qualified buyer. You may need to provide proof of funds, a pre-approval letter, or an earnest money deposit to show your seriousness and credibility.

  • Be prepared to negotiate and compromise. The seller may accept, reject, or counter your offer, depending on their situation and expectations. You need to be prepared to negotiate and compromise on the price and terms of the deal, such as the closing date, the inspection period, the repairs, the contingencies, and the concessions. As much as possible, be flexible and realistic and avoid getting too attached or emotional about the home. You need to know your bottom line and your walk-away point and be ready to walk away if the deal is not in your best interest. Use your real estate agent's skills and experience to help you negotiate and communicate effectively with the seller or their agent.

  • Complete the due diligence and finalize the deal. After you and the seller have agreed on the offer and signed the contract, you need to complete the due diligence and finalize the deal. This includes conducting a home inspection, an appraisal, a title search, and a final walkthrough of the home. You also need to secure your financing, finalize your mortgage, and arrange your homeowner's insurance. It is important to review and sign the closing documents, pay the closing costs, and transfer ownership of the home. Your real estate agent can help you to complete these steps smoothly and successfully.

If you need more help or guidance on how to downsize your home, watch this video that explains the tips and strategies for downsizing your home in more detail. This is a must-watch for anyone considering a transition to a smaller, more manageable living space in the vibrant Iowa City.


After years of helping clients buy and sell homes in the Des Moines area, I've worked with many families looking to downsize and simplify their lives. My clients Tom and Beth had lived in their 4-bedroom suburban in Arizona for over a decade as their kids grew up. With the last one now off to college, they wanted to downsize to an easy-to-maintain property closer to family in Minneapolis, Omaha, and Kansas City.  Also with the idea that their elderly parents could move in someday in the near future.

When Tom and Beth reached out, I leveraged my familiarity with the local market to immediately understand what they needed and what areas of the city fit that need. We viewed several promising homes over a few weeks.

Ultimately, I helped them identify and negotiate a winning offer on a 2-bedroom low-maintenance condo near Altoona outlets, Adventureland, and Prairie Meadows Casino. The convenience of the area made for an easy transition.

The experience with Tom and Beth typifies my commitment to simplifying the downsizing process through market familiarity, realistic guidance, and personalized care. My deep community ties allow me to match clients with just the right lifestyle fit. I look forward to helping many more local families transition smoothly over the years ahead!


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