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Downsizing Belongings

Downsizing is simplifying your life. Downsizing can be broken down into simple steps:

Downsizing your Belongings
What to Keep
Give to Family
How to Sell
Choosing a More Manageable Residence
Moving Services

Downsizing your Belongings

  • Start EARLY! Try to sort all items.
  • Work on one room at a time.
  • Work for a couple of hours at a time. Stop when you begin to feel stressed.
  • Be easy on yourself when making decisions. This can stir up memories/ emotions.
  • Get rid of multiple items (e.g., spatula) and items you will no longer need (e.g. garden tools).
  • Use a shredder for personal papers.
  • Sort photos. Discard photos that are duplicates, out of focus, or not important.
  • Don’t empty your house entirely. De-cluttering prepares your home for potential buyers but it can be sad to be in a house with no personal possessions.
  • Sort your boxes with stickers entitled: keep, give to family, sell, donate/recycle/discard.

What to Keep

How much space will you have in your new home?
  • What items will you need?
  • Will your current bed, chair, table, etc. fit?
  • Should you consider buying new pieces? Which ones?
Make a list of what you want to take
  • Use removable colour-coded dots for larger items like furniture (green to keep, blue to family, and red dot to sell)
  • Keep items that are important to you (e.g., favourite books, hobby).
  • Think about your current routine. If you nap on the sofa every day, try to work a sofa into your new space.
  • Allow time between moving and when your previous home changes hands so you can get additional items you might need.

Give to Family

  • Discuss belongings with family/friends you trust
  • Don’t forget to include the grandchildren.
  • Plan ahead to allow time to talk.

How to Sell

  • Sell at consignment shops, garage sales, websites such as eBay or newspaper ads.
  • Beware of someone at your door offering to take items “off your hands” – they may be looking for deals and pay less than item’s worth.


  • Donate to charities (ask for receipt)
  • Take It Back! Halton (lists locations in Halton where materials can be reused, recycled or disposed)
  • When sorting clothes, discard anything that:
    • does not fit
    • is badly soiled, worn or in need of repair
    • is not comfortable, difficult to get on or off
    • requires dry cleaning

Choosing a More Manageable Residence

  • Consult the resource Housing Options for Seniors.
  • Measure your new space and decide what items you will need.
  • Determine if your current furniture fits or if you need to replace items. (see What to Keep)

Moving Services

Some companies specialize in helping seniors to downsize and move: Ask for a written estimate on company letterhead including:
  • Information about old and new residences, including obstacles (e.g. stairs)
  • Who is responsible for packing.
  • Whether packing items yourself affects liability.
  • If licenses/customs documents are required.
  • What happens to your deposit
Check with your insurance agent/moving company:
  • Ensure your household policy or moving company provides coverage during a move
  • Know the amount of deductible
  • Get Replacement Value Protection - not depreciated value (60 cents/pound for items destroyed or lost (typical television = $30)