How to Downsize from House to Condo: Checklist

Moving to a new location can be an exciting move for most people! You can start all over in a new neighborhood, you can meet new neighborhood friends, and can change your entire environment. 

Condominium living can not only be a great way to meet more people, but it’s also a great way to have an entire space to yourself and get creative in how you utilize it. Most people move into condos because they don’t need as much space as they used to. You might feel like your house has too much space and requires too much maintenance.  

A condo living room with metal stairs and neutral colors furnishing

Even though you might not be utilizing the space as much anymore in your house, you probably still have a lot of stuff that couldn’t possibly fit in a condo. So, how to downsize from house to condo? Do you have to get rid of all your stuff? 

Scroll down for the ultimate checklist: how to downsize from house to condo.

(If you’re moving right now, during COVID-19, check out our guide for moving during COVID)
(If you’re moving across the country, here’s our cross-country moving checklist.)

1. Get in touch with a condominium realtor

A man and woman shake hands over coffee

Your first step is to find a professional you trust who works in your target neighborhood. They can help you obtain measurements and advise you about how to downsize from house to condo. They’ve probably worked with many similar customers before!

Let’s say you do have a lot of furniture in your home, and some of it you’re not ready to let go of. Definitely take this into consideration before moving out into a smaller space. Some condos offer storage units, or you could pay for offsite storage, but is that your goal with for downsizing?

There could be a lot of factors here that determine what you keep and what you toss when moving out.

One rule of thumb is evaluating with your real estate agent how big of a space you’ll need to fit everything you want to keep. Especially if you’re using a condo real estate expert from your area to help you, ask them for ideas when it comes to storage and square footage. They are your best resource for picking the right space for you and all your stuff.

2. Sort through all your things by category

An older man and a young boy clean a floor together

Sorting can be a pretty big task, so plan to take a good chunk of time on this process. It’s true that when most people think about how to downsize from house to condo, they’re imagining a delightfully minimalist space with way less stuff. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy! There can be so many little things in just one room, and now you’ve got to part with them. Find a sorting process that works for you.

Or maybe you’ll find that there are some things you don’t need to part with. This could take a little while to sort through, but it’s an essential part of the downsizing process. Furniture can spark joy!

You could start with a single room, and working your way through a single category (like books, clothes, papers, miscellaneous). Put similar items together and finish working your way through all the rooms.

After you categorize all the rooms, make it easier on yourself by picking designated days to go through each category of item. A great way to sort is to have several large boxes out, labeled Storage, Keep, Giveaway. Really think about what you’re using now and what you haven’t used for a few years. When you move into your new condo space, what is something you can’t live without? 

For example, how often do you use that panini maker from your first wedding anniversary? Maybe you don’t need those items that you’ve been hoarding in the back of your cupboard for a long time.

While it can feel so strange to part with things, it’s going to be helpful for you in the long run. Plus, you have the opportunity to rearrange your furniture and switch up your layout so it works better for a smaller space.

3. Sell or donate things you don’t use

A young woman looks at clothing hanging on a rack in a thrift store

Now that you’ve sorted everything, it’s time to move that stuff along! Getting rid of items that you’ve had for years can seem like a tough task in the beginning, but trying thinking about it from a different perspective.

There could be some items you don’t use that someone else may need. Think of a young college student who needs some cheap housewares for their first apartment. Not only are you helping them out, but you can also collect a little petty cash.

If you’re having a hard time finding a home for certain items, maybe you should donate those items. Someone in need might be able to use them. Or look for a newcomers or refugee organization that helps set up homes for new immigrants.

Thrift stores are closed at the moment, due to COVID-19, but eventually you’ll be able to donate again. If you are moving shortly, see if you can store your donation items in a friend’s garage for a while until they can be donated.  

4. Store everything else or give to family

An older woman and a toddler stand together looking out a window. You can only see the backs of their heads.

Now, you really should just get rid of everything not useful to you. But we’re only human, and we all get attached to special stuff. There are some alternate options for handling items that you still want access to but don’t want taking up space in your new condo.

If the item is something important like a family heirloom, or it’s something you know will be useful to someone else, this could be a great time to give them some items you’ve been holding onto.

It’s better to give a beloved item to someone who will use it, so that it doesn’t waste away in storage. If all else fails and you still want to hold onto some items and don’t have someone you trust to give it to, then you can turn to a storage unit. 

There is a huge variety on storage unit options. Look for a moderately priced, insured, climate-controlled, and 24/7 access storage unit that can hold all those items for you. While it might not be ideal since the unit will be away from your new home, this can really help you decide what you want to keep and what you want to store.

At the end of the day, we want to help you figure out how to downsize from house to condo. We know that downsizing can feel like a large and scary task for a house that is full of “stuff.”

But remember why you’re making this move!

If you can categorize and sift through your stuff, you will be well on your way to a light and breezy condo lifestyle. Plus, you can find ways to make your unwanted items useful to someone in need.

Or, you could make a totally clean break if your stuff is too overwhelming. Start with a clean slate and work with a furnishing company like us. We can help you get all new furniture that actually fits your new floor plan, plus upgrade your aesthetic.

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed by this task. There is help, and you can get started by reaching out to a furnishing company and a condo real estate agent for assistance.

Good luck with your downsizing!  

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