Tips for Moving and Downsizing

The apartments at Rockhaven include a lot of storage, with many closets and unfinished basements, but that does not mean you necessarily need to bring everything you currently own.   If you can put the furniture you want in your new apartment, you can decide to let the rest go.   The goal is to move only what you really need — both furniture and other belongings.

Moving is an opportunity to decide what’s really important to keep, and what you’re ready to let go.

For example, you will not need snow-removal equipment or much if any of your gardening equipment. If you are planning to do some gardening here, bring the few items you may want.

The process of downsizing, let alone moving, tends to be draining, both physically and mentally.  If you can do it in smaller bits, it will be easier.

Puppy in a box

Before you move

  • Start early.  Give yourself twice as much time as you think it will take.  Make time to work regularly on this; ideally, daily.  Take small, frequent steps.
  • Start small.  Do one room at a time.  Start with a shelf, a closet, the laundry room and work up to larger spaces.  Go through each room of your house, from least-used to most-trafficked, and sort each and every item you see.
  • Get rid of duplicates.  Especially in the kitchen, bathrooms, garage and office areas.
  • Divide and conquer.  Sort all your clothes at once, all your kitchen items at once, etc.  Make only Yes or No piles — no Maybes.  Once it goes in the No pile, it does not come back and should be dealt with immediately, whether it goes into the trash, gets donated/recycled, or sold.  This helps prevent second guessing.  If unsure, ask “Does it bring me joy?”  Generally, for clothing, give away any clothing items you haven’t worn in a year or more.
  • Reduce collections creatively.  Pick out your favorite items to keep.  Take pictures of the rest. Sell or offer to museums or collectors.  If they are very valuable, contact an estate sale company, museum, or library (if book collection) to help you.
  • Consider having a yard sale or using an online “market-place”; there are companies who will help you sort, remove, sell, and move only what you want to keep.  Solicit recommendations.
  • Consider giving family pieces to children or relatives early.
  • Photograph or digitalize things you want to keep as memories but need to pass on to others. Old photos can be digitalized, and they even become easier to view.  Many books can now be read electronically, so you may want to move your reading to an e-reader.

If you need help, ask for it. It is not easy to move or downsize alone.  Be specific.  For example, “I need help selling furniture” or “packing my kitchen.” Friends might be more willing to help if the request is not overwhelming.  Be grateful for the help, even if it is not quite what you expected.  There are services you can hire that provide assistance.  Ask for help finding help if you need to.

Once you have chosen your new apartment you can plan your move

  • Use the floor plan to figure out what will fit and where you want to place it. There are online computer software programs that can help. Try Better Homes and Gardens’ arrange-a-room or
  • Assess and compare your new apartment’s closets, drawers, and cabinets with those in your current home.
  • Purge before packing so that you don’t bring things you don’t need.
  • Once you’ve cleared out a room or area, you can use it as a staging area to store or pack items that you are moving.

Practice the OHIO Rule – Only Handle It Once

Prepping, packing, moving, and arriving at your new apartment

  • Throw a packing party to help prepare for your move and to say goodbye.
  • Create a box labeled “The First Box,” filled with toilet paper, toiletries, shower rod and curtain, soap, towels, and bedding.  This will make your first night easier.  Put this box into the truck LAST, so it comes out FIRST.  When you arrive at your new apartment, place this box where you can find it.
  • Label ALL boxes by Room and Contents.
  • When setting up your new apartment space, start by placing large items like furniture where they will go, and then everything else can be placed around them.
  • Use the basement to get nonessential items out of the way while you unpack.  It is also a good place to put things you might want to get rid of in the future.
  • Organize as you unpack.  Put items into their appropriate closets and cabinets.


Use a notebook to keep notes, suggestions, and timeline

It can be very helpful to have a dedicated notebook to keep track of the important information and checklists during this process.


  • Make a list of the important items you want to bring.  This list can be helpful when you’ve completed the move and are setting up renter’s insurance.
  • Make a list of items you do NOT want to move with you.
  • Make a list of your key goals and timelines for the move.  Example goals:
    • Clean out X closets or drawers a week
    • Take X boxes of items to Goodwill a week
    • Research and select moving company (look at ratings, pricing, and availability) by X
    • Have the basement cleared out by X
  • Make a list of potential problem areas, such as your existing attic, basement or garage storage, and develop a plan to tackle them.
  • Make a plan on how to get rid of stuff.
    • Selling items:
      • You can sell items online using services like Ebay, Craigslist, Facebook or Nextdoor.  Take good pictures, and price things appropriately.  This can take time but be worth it depending on the type of items you’re selling.
      • Local consignment shops may be a good option for certain kinds of items.
    • Consider having a garage sale and include a “FREE ITEMS” area.
    • Family may or may not want your extra items, and may or may not be able to pick them up.
  • Make a list of places or charities you may want to use, such as:
    • Veterans’ services, Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. to take clothes donations (call ahead to confirm what they’re willing to accept).
    • Animal shelters often appreciate donations of blankets and towels.
    • Where to recycle electronics and e-waste.
    • Places to take paper to be shredded, such as Staples.
    • Food bank locations to donate unused pantry items.
    • Make a list of friends who might be willing and able to help and what their skills for the tasks are.

My downsizing advice is to get emotions out of the way, and then keep important, yet small-ish items that bring comfort.  The rest will be well and happily remembered.  Let someone else enjoy what you had before.  That thought makes me happy.  Letting go is a great relief and assists in moving into a new chapter.

C. G. S.