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Checklist for Downsizing

The term “downsizing” is used when people move from a larger residence to a smaller one. You often see downsizing with empty nesters once the kids have flown the roost, or with elderly people as they desire a smaller, less maintenance-heavy home, convenient one-floor living that they don’t have now, or need to enter an assisted care residence.

But the problem with downsizing is that there is no way you are going to be able to take all your stuff with you! So how do you decide what stays and what goes? Although you are looking forward to the next chapter in your life, it does come with the bittersweet memories of clearing out years of family history.

Organizing your move is your key to success. Use this helpful downsizing checklist to help:

Plan Ahead

  • Start decluttering as soon as you decide to move, and continue this process until it’s time to pack.
  • Collect and put into a file cabinet important papers including wills, powers of attorney, medical and military records, birth certificates, passports, etc. Let key family members know where they are located.
  • Have the children remove their own keepsakes.


  • Make lists in a “Moving” notebook. Write down tasks and timelines, and important contacts.
  • Collect moving company estimates, arrange for utility switchovers.
  • Make a floor plan of the new home; determine what furniture will fit.
  • Hire a relocation specialist or professional organizer (if the budget allows).


  • Sort and divide possessions into four categories: definitely save, possibly save, donate sell + give away, discard.
  • Create piles or use colored labels to mark boxes for each category.
  • If you will be selling an estate, create a room where you store these items.


  • Let others help!
  • Clearly label boxes with their destination room, list briefly what’s in each box.
  • Create “open first” boxes with essentials like toiletries, cooking, bedding, food, medications, flashlights and emergency items.
  • Pack and secure valuables like jewelry and remove them if possible: place them with a trusted neighbor to hold or put them into your safety deposit box.
  • Create a file for important move paperwork: lease, contact number, keys, legal documents, checkbooks, etc.


  • Pack or pile items to be discarded; ask family if they want anything in this pile.
  • If selling big or expensive items, get an appraisal. Items can be sold online at sites like Craigslist, at auction sites like eBay, and at local auctions or consignment shops. Or hold a yard sale.
  • Donate items to area charities. Get a receipt for tax deductions.
  • For donations or discards, call a junk removal service like 123JUNK.  If you can, move out and leave behind anything you want to dispose of. 123JUNK can clear out the entire house for you.
Kevin Wheeler

Junk Removal Made Simple

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