Downsizing: 3 Things to Keep & 3 Things to Let Go

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Guest post courtesy of Michael Longsdon of


Whether you’ve lived in your current home for one year or fifty, the task of packing up all your belongings is a daunting one. From family heirlooms to knick-knacks, the things we’ve acquired throughout our lives - and the place we’ve stored them all - have immense value. And I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about memories.


That’s why, while moving is always difficult, downsizing is particularly tough. Moving from a larger space to a smaller one, whether it’s a condo, an apartment, or a retirement community, means not only do you have to organize and sort everything you own, you likely have to get rid of some of it in the process. So, how do you decide?


Three Things You Should Keep


Important Paperwork - Of all the paperwork we accumulate during our lives, there are only a few things important enough to keep indefinitely. Birth certificates, social security cards, and tax returns are a few examples of paperwork that should be kept permanently, as are wills, automobile and real estate records, and insurance information. If you don’t have room for a filing cabinet in your new home, an expandable file folder with tabbed dividers should be large enough to hold even a lifetime of paperwork, and it’s easy to access, store, and transport. Expandable file folders aren’t super expensive; some can be purchased for under $40.

Family Photos - Luckily, photographs are some of the easiest items to fit into just about any space. Framed photographs can be removed and placed in albums or stored in photo boxes. You can also go digital by scanning photos and storing them electronically. Do it yourself, enlist a tech-savvy family member to help, or invest in a professional service that will do it all for you.

Items with Sentimental Value - From small keepsakes to large pieces of furniture, if the item means enough to you, you can likely find a way to keep it. An in-room safe can keep jewelry and trinkets safe and at hand. If it’s your reading chair you want to keep, you’ll need to take stock of your future living space to ensure a place for it.

Three Things You Should Get Rid Of


Entertainment - Books, music albums, and movies are some of the hardest things for bookworms, music lovers, and movie buffs to get rid of when they move. But most are not read, listened to, or watched often enough to merit the amount of space they require. Simply put, it’s time to go digital. A variety of services will allow you to borrow or purchase just about any title you want.

Furniture - Since furniture is generally purchased to fit a space, it can be one of the most difficult items to find a place for when moving. Rather than try to make it all fit, consider re-selling furniture you don’t need. You can take it to a consignment store, list it in online marketplaces, or put it out for a good, old-fashioned yard sale.

Family Heirlooms - You probably think these precious items belong on the list of things you should hold onto, but if you’re downsizing, consider passing along items from your family’s history to your kids and grandkids when you do. They’ll have the opportunity to enjoy it for longer, and you’ll get the joy of seeing them do so.

If you have a lot of items to move and you’re concerned about getting everything shuffled to your new place in one piece, you might need to enlist the help of professional movers. Unlike your friends and family, who won’t charge you for their services, pros will need to be paid, so make sure you have some room in your budget for this expense.  

Of course, these are just suggestions. Downsizing can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and the choices you make are entirely personal. If it’s time to move, and you haven’t been able to pare down your belongings, don’t worry. For a low monthly fee, you can rent a storage unit to house the items you don’t need on a daily basis but aren’t ready or willing to part with. By removing the items from your previous home, it may be easier to go through them at a later date.


 Guest post courtesy of Michael Longsdon of