Having to scale down was definitely a highlight for me! It is pure bliss! We downsized from a 3 bedroom house, including a fully kitted garden flat, to a tiny home (on the water). We have nothing in storage and what does not fit into our boat, had to find a new home. It is really liberating to have less stuff to worry about, organize, and clean….we are still throwing things out of the boat every now and then. If it is not getting used, it needs to go!
I often get asked how we did it and having just sent an email in response to the same question, I thought I might as well post it here and help others too. So here follows a very informal post with a few tips of how we downsized:
We started getting rid of a lot of items 2 years before we decided to buy a boat – Sporting equipment lying around, clothes I no longer liked, kitchen equipment that we would only use every now and then and a few other things that were really just in the way. It was purely a mission to get all the junk out of the house and in an effort to stay more organized. I also wanted more space for my home office, but it really got the ball rolling for me and was the start towards some addiction to become more minimalistic and conscious of what we have around us.
KNOW WHAT YOU OWN:
If you have been living in your house for anything more than 5 years, chances are you have NO IDEA how much is in your house. There might be some items in your house that you know you need to get rid of and that is obvious or easy to get rid off, but can you really say exactly how many shirts you have in your cupboard? And how many pots, pans, and bowls are stacked in your kitchen cupboard?
CREATE A LIST:
For the actual downsizing and selling up, I created a spreadsheet with items listed per room. As I walked through the house, each room and cupboard would get its own section on the spreadsheet and add I would list each item onto the list. Whenever I was online or in the shops, I would keep an eye on what items would go for new and made a note on the sheet. This gave me an idea of what they were worth – depending on the replacement value, age of the item and so on. I would then add the ideal selling price in a separate column. It helped organise all the items and timing of when what should go. It also gave a rough estimate of the value overall. Some things sell better in season, some things you will need to the very end, so it is great to get an idea of what you have and when you can let go of what. Once all the rooms and items were captured, you can move things around and change the categories (linen together, furniture together and so on), but initially working through room by room helps keep you motivated and keeps track of where you are with the inventory.
MAKE YOUR ITEMS SELLABLE:
- Make sure items are working, clean, manuals are with them and everything is in a decent state.
- Make a duplicate of your spreadsheet and take out all the pricing references, unless you want to motivate how well your items are priced.
- Finalise your pricing and make sure it is fair and accurate.
- Allow some room for negotiations. Know your value, but don’t be too sticky, but also don’t be a pushover. Some people try their luck, but with the original spreadsheet with comparative pricing of new, other second-hand prices and your ideal price, you will be empowered and equipped to negotiate or stand your ground where you need to.
WHAT CHANNELS WE USED:
- The spreadsheet worked well. We told everyone who knew we were moving about the planned list and by the time we were ready, I had a lot of email addresses to send the list too. The mail was shared and forwarded between friends and colleagues. Word got around and we got rid of A LOT of the larger items! They simply replied and highlighted what item/s on the list they wanted. First come, first served. I added all the names and interest on my original list to keep track and removed sold items from the list we sent around. After about a month, I sent an updated list out.
- We had a garage sale – a lot of linen, clothes, garden goodies and kitchenware sold. This took some additional timing and planning and EVERYTHING had prices on by the time people rocked up at the house. It is VERY IMPORTANT to have prices on – people hate asking what something costs and it often puts them off buying. Also make sure you have change ready for smaller items and for those buying cash.
- I used community Facebook groups and posted pictures with prices of items. This was a bit more labour intensive, but I found it worked best to allocate a Saturday morning for the posts. I would post at around 7-8am, and the sale would request same day collection. It also works better to post items around payday. People will be happier to spend buys when they have cash available.
- Gumtree worked well too.
- Moving On (www.movignon.co.za) were helpful. They offer to price your items for you, which is great and they have a massive database to get the word out. They manage the marketing of the house sale and also manages the sale on the day. They have agents that will talk you through the detail if you contact them. We, however, never used them in the end. I wanted to try and do it all myself. It is a lot of work, but I made the time. They charge a percentage fee for the management (which is fair) but we thought we would rather save that money. I think it was around 14%?
- And we also did a few car boot sales – these were really more for super random stuff. We actually made a fair amount of money at the sales – but the trick is to keep changing what you have on display. I would get a feel for what needs to go where, where traffic in the market is (where people pause and turn to go to the next stall) and move things around. I did not take out ALL our stuff at once, so browsers would keep coming back every 30min to see what else we had. It is not for everyone and to be honest, I like learning how people shop and no better way than to watch them at a car boot sale and market! I saw it as market research. I had to sometimes bribe Christo to come along 🙂 It can get in your face, super busy or super quiet and you have to chat to a lot of people and make small talk or explain how something works without putting them off or getting demotivated when they were not really interested. Remember to take sunscreen!
- We gave A LOT of stuff away – a lot! Some were more ceremonial – we had a farewell for the house and invited friends for a braai. The house still had random goodies in and I put it all in the dining-room and lounge. Anything from camping equipment to unused stationery, wall art, pots, and other smaller items – the friends could take what they wanted and in doing so, take something of us with them and more importantly USE what we will not USE. #lesswaste
- A lot was donated. There are amazing causes out there if you keep your eyes open. Anything from giftpacks for Matric Dances – a lot of girls need outfits but can’t afford it, so formal wear, make up, jewelry and dressy shoes can be put together and donated. Handyman or gardening service start-up businesses need tools. Wool, fabric and odd bits like spare zips and buttons can be donated and be put to good use by schools, care centers or old age homes.
The most difficult was our books, framed art and our older, wooden furniture. Very sentimental! We found a great guy in Fish Hoek that still buys second-hand books. We had a lot of good collections that he wanted. He took the whole lot. He is also an antique dealer, so he helped us price the older furniture. Most of these went back to family anyway or was passed onto friends.
The above methods worked well for us. I think it helped process everything, especially getting rid of the sentimental things. Maybe subconsciously I also felt I have more control over the change, just before entering a new chapter with so little control and completely unknown to us.
It might be different for you, especially if you are only downsizing and not completely selling up, but I thought I would share the whole nine yards so you can get an idea of what could work for you.
It is a very lethargic process for sure!
…and trust me – you do not need half the stuff you have with you in your house (and you will not miss it when it is gone).
If you like any of these ideas, or have questions – feel free to leave a comment or make contact with me via social media. I am happy to help where I can. Also, if you have gone through the same and would like to share some of your tips – let me know.
PS. the picture might be a little random. It was taken years ago at a friends house. It was sparsely but tastefully decorated, with views over the ocean to die for. The space was all whitewashed and in tones of light blues. A few focus pieces in faded pastel here and there and then this black and white photo of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He looked so peaceful, calm and happy in the room and I thought: that is what all our houses and rooms should make us feel like. If I think of what we now own and how much less clutter occupies our space, I can smile and close my eyes in a peaceful breath, just like you can see Jaggi do here.
“The more you try to be special, the more you get hurt. Just be, just melt and become part of the wind around you, the earth around you, become a part of everything. You’re here only for a while. At least when you’re in a place like this, where nobody is going to trample on you, let your defenses down.” – Jaggi Vasudev