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Top 5 tips for downsizing

12th September 2018

How many possessions do you really need to live comfortably?

There is no right answer - but this question is one that must be contemplated by those seeking to downsize in order to move into a retirement village. The size of your home will dictate how many belongings you can bring, and while this can be liberating for some, most of us struggle to part with items that hold cherished memories.

At Dalkeith Heights Retirement Village, we provide spacious rooms and storage facilities, including a roof cavity to house your hard-to-part-with items. The trouble is, we can’t keep them all. Need tips and tricks for downsizing? Read on.

1. Parting with 'sentimental items'

Sentimental items are the hardest clutter to dispose of because often you can feel like you’re betraying a loved one or your own fond memories. You need to implement the “Where will it live?” principle, and downsize each collection.

For example, if you’ve kept multiple items from your child’s christening - dress, spoon, gifts etc, just choose two things. Then, commit to caring for, displaying or storing them properly. This will help you decide what ‘treasures’ to keep or what has to go.

Another tip regarding keepsakes might be to take a photo of the item, and store it electronically to look back at later.

2. Find out how much you need

So, how do we know how much ‘stuff’ we should have? Apparently you will know, listen to yourself, be realistic and it will click into place – keeping only the items that ‘spark joy’ and ‘add value’ to your life is a good place to start.

We all have 50 cookbooks which look great, but in reality we just google ‘chicken dishes’ on the iPad when we need inspiration, proving that those cookbooks aren’t a necessity.

Apparently the experts say once you have found the sweet spot for how much is right for you, that amount will never increase.

3. Photos and albums, books and DVD's

Technology is the future – and it will aid you in your mission to de-clutter. You can clear tonnes of space simply by scanning and storing photos electronically. USB’s are great for storage and don’t forget to back-up on a hard drive or save it to the cloud – maybe ask a tech savvy pal for this one.

When it comes to books and DVDs, we are lucky enough at Dalkeith Heights to have a library where you may be able to donate these items and lighten your load.

4. Things to part with now

These are items that need to go…yesterday. For the BIN

  • Expired pantry items
  • Lonely or disfigured Tupperware (missing lids, melted plastic, etc)
  • Random cords and remote controls (If you don’t know what it does by now- ditch it)
  • Receipts – includes warranty and guarantee booklets (check dates, and where possible obtain electronic receipts)
  • Old prescriptions and other medications


  • Utensils or appliances you never use
  • Accessories, clothes and shoes (if it’s been unworn for 2 years - donate it!)
  • Old towels and bedding
5. Avoid buying unnecessary items

Preventative measures need to find their way into your newly downsized lifestyle. How to avoid ‘stocking up’?

  • Don’t buy clothes unless you have an occasion in mind – It’s a waste of money and valuable robe real estate.
  • Don’t buy canned items/spice jars unless you need them for a specific recipe – likewise with cleaning products, get them when and if you need them.
  • Get organised. Make lists and stick to them. Replace items, but don’t ‘stock-up’.

If the above tips are still causing you to cringe, try to compact your belongings and utilise storage options or invite a friend to help you cull, you could benefit from a different perspective.