Downsizing to a smaller apartment will save you money on rent and utilities, but it can be a stressful experience. Chances are, you won't be able to fit all the stuff you've accumulated into a tighter space, and it's hard to know what to get rid of and what to keep.
If you're planning on downsizing, here are some tips to help you through the process:
Take a thorough inventory. It's difficult to know what to get rid of when you don't have a solid picture of what you own in the first place. Walk around your apartment, and make a list of all of your belongings. Write down each piece of furniture you have, extra linens, appliances and more.
You may even want to take stock of the smaller items in your home like books. It's possible you won't have room for your entire collection in your new pad, so make a list of your most important reads and donate the rest.
Measure each room in your new apartment. Take accurate measurements of each room in your new home to find out what you can fit inside the rooms before you start moving your furniture. Next, compare those figures to the dimensions of your furniture. If your new place is really tiny, you may need a smaller bed or couch.
You should also consider how much space you have for storage. You may have to downsize to a smaller dresser if your bedroom's square footage is limited, or purchase a new cabinet if you lack closet space.
List your most coveted belongings. Think about all the items you can't live without. If imagining life without your state-of-the-art espresso machine makes you sad, but you have limited counter and storage space in the kitchen, you may have to give up your toaster instead.
Get organized, and ditch the clutter. You're short on space, so don't waste it by bringing clutter into your new apartment. It's only going to make your space feel even smaller. De-cluttering can be a daunting task, so take it one room at a time. If you're still feeling overwhelmed, try devoting 20 to 30 minutes per day to organizing until you've finished your entire apartment.
Don't forget about the king of clutter: the junk drawer! Go through the drawer, shelf or closet that serves as a catchall for miscellaneous items. If you find something in there that you didn't realize was missing or forgot you had, you probably don't need it. As you clear the clutter, make three piles for the things you want to get rid of: sell, donate and recycle. Which brings us to...
Sell, donate or recycle what you don't need. You can make a little extra money by selling items that are in good condition on sites like eBay or Craigslist. You can also put the word out to your friends via social networks. You never know, your friend's friend may have the perfect place in her apartment for your old sofa. Donate whatever you can't sell to a charity or secondhand shop. If some of your pieces of furniture are so worn that they are unfit to be sold or donated, take them to a recycling center.
Get started early. Don't wait until the last minute to downsize your apartment. First, you may toss something you actually need if you don't plan properly. Second, you may not find someone to buy your used furniture if you don't give yourself enough time.
Optimize space in your new apartment. Your new home may be smaller, but there are ways to get the most out of your space, such as keeping your closets organized and taking advantage of wall space by adding shelves. You should also invest in multiuse furniture like an ottoman, which can serve as additional seating as well as storage space.
Niccole Schreck is the rental experience expert for rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable apartment and provides tips on how to move.
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