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How-To Down-Size Your Family Home

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When moving out of the family home to down-size to a smaller house, it means disposing of a considerable amount of personal possessions. Make a start by deciding on what you intend taking with you, and begin to get rid of all the superfluous furniture and belongings. Allow plenty of time to sort out family memorabilia and how much time it will take will depend on how long you’ve lived there, the size of the family and how much junk has been accumulated in the attic, garden shed and garage. If family members want anything you don’t intend taking, ask them to remove it straight away and begin to clear the decks well in advance of the move.
If older children have flown the nest but not yet settled in a permanent home (i.e. at university, or gap year) make sure they are included in the sifting process so that their rubbish doesn’t move with you. Otherwise, once stored in the attic at the new house, it will probably moulder there for a few more years.
There will be furniture that we know we will regret parting with, so ask friends or relatives if they would like a piece on ‘permanent loan’, making it clear that we may ask for it back. Any large pieces that won’t be moving with you should be got rid of by sending to auction, or donated to a local charity at the start of the clear out.
If you have family scrapbooks, letters, photographs, biographical information of a local personality, community connections, etc., consider giving them to the local museum/archive who will preserve them for posterity. This might raise a few objections from members of the family but try to persuade them that this is the best solution. If you have anything associated with someone famous, consider sending to a specialist auction, or sell on e-Bay.
All childhood memorabilia should be placed in separate boxes and given to the appropriate off-spring to take away – school books, photographs, old toys, keepsakes, etc.,
Sort out books (see How To Down-size Your Book Collection) ornaments, and pictures. If you’ve moving from a large six-room house to a small bungalow or apartment, there will be less wall and surface space to fill. If any of the items have an antique value, arrange for them to go to auction.
Keep china and glassware down to a minimum, after all how many tea/dinner services will you need in your new home? Get rid of all the odd cups and mugs, and only take china and glassware that you will enjoy using.
Empty out the linen cupboard and get rid of any surplus blankets, bed linen, tea towels, and odd bathroom towels. Don’t forget that old embroidered or lace table linen is worth money to collectors, so consider selling on e-Bay as the postal costs will be low.
We all collect a wide variety of time-saving kitchen gadgets that we use once and then push to the back of a cupboard. Sort out the tried and tested favourites and get rid of the rest – including all surplus saucepans and baking tins.
Only take the tools and equipment that you’ll need for a smaller garden. If it’s only a small area or patio, you won’t be needing any heavy duty equipment – large lawn mowers, chainsaws, strimmers, etc.,
Garages accumulate the bulk of our family rubbish including garden furniture, sports equipment, bikes and DIY material. You won’t have room for it so start by having your first garage sale and clear the space for packing and sorting.
Finish by selling all the unwanted possessions at a car boot sale (pay £5-£10 for a pitch), or even better - sell them for free from your front garden. Your neighbours know you are moving, so there’s no embarrassment in setting up your stall on the drive, front lawn or garage over a weekend – after all many of the grand country houses are doing it, too! Keep the prices low, advertise well beforehand by dropping leaflets through the doors of the neighbouring streets, and you might be surprised by the amount of money you make without leaving the front gate.
Avoid family rows by disposing of any heirlooms fairly between siblings. If this involves expensive items let each of them take turns in choosing the pieces they would like. If there’s an unsolvable disagreement sell it!


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