Moving into a smaller space? Here’s how to downsize

Many Canadians are embracing smaller living spaces, perhaps out of financial necessity or a desire to simplify and streamline their lives. These properties often come with a smaller mortgage than a McMansion. Or in some cases, buyers may be paying cash thanks to savings or equity from their previous property.

Micro units as small as a few hundred square feet are popping up in major cities across North America, but for some, a traditional condo or townhouse is a more comfortable size. For empty nesters who are trading a house for a condo or younger buyers who choose to downsize for other reasons, the process can be a challenging one. Here’s a look at options for downsizing your belongings.

  • Move it. Some downsizers feel emotionally attached to furniture so they’ll move it into their new space and try to make it work. But even if your old furniture technically fits in a smaller space, you may find that large pieces overpower a room. To make a smaller space seem less crowded, you might prefer a dining table without extra leaves or a love seat instead of a full-sized couch. When furnishing a small space, remember the adage “less is more.”
  • Store it. Paying for a climate-controlled storage units may make sense if you want to downsize gradually rather than getting rid of everything at once or if you’re downsizing temporarily (for instance, moving into a condo or apartment while you renovate a new home). But this option may not make sense in the long term, because monthly storage fees add up and most people simply forget what it is they’re paying to store. If you’re lucky enough to have a close friend or relative with extra space in a basement or attic, you might go that route. Many younger buyers use parents’ homes as storage until they upgrade to a larger space. But this solution may not work forever. When basements flood or relatives move or eventually decide to reclaim the attic, you may need to pare down your belongings or find alternate storage options.
  • Sell it. Given the potential downsides of moving or storing furniture, selling it is an attractive option for many downsizers, especially those who want a little extra money for furnishing their new home. Craigslist and have local sites across Canada where you can post photos and descriptions of furniture and other household goods for sale. Prospective buyers can call, email or text you to arrange pickup. Other avenues for selling furniture include hosting a yard sale or consigning individual pieces. However, many consignment shops will only give you a small portion of the sale price and may make you wait until the item sells to issue payment. Selling furniture yourself can net you more money if you’re willing to do the legwork yourself and find the right buyer.
  • Donate it. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the hassles of negotiating with buyers or lugging your furniture to a consignment shop. Or perhaps you don’t really need the money. If that’s the case, then consider donating used but still useable furniture to a local charity and taking the tax deduction. Some charities will even send a truck to pick up donations for you.
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