Joyful Downsizing: Downsizing on a Dime?

Kim Kubsch

According to professional organizers across the country, the average 3,000-square-foot home contains 300,000 items. Even when people have meticulously selected their favorite items to go with them or to be given to others, they still feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that is left behind. For example, when moving from 3,000 square feet down to 1,500 square feet, only 150,000 items may accompany you. So, what do you do with the remaining 150,000 items?

A quick and low-cost clear-out is not for the faint of heart, because downsizing and estate clear-outs can involve intense emotions. If circumstances demand a low-cost, rapid clear-out, I highly recommend arranging and supervising the process through a third party, like Joyful Downsizing or other move managers, without emotional ties to the house.

Here are my tips for the lowest cost way to empty a home:

Sort Out High Value and Manageable Items

One thing that can really slow you down when you are in a hurry to clear out a home is to get bogged down with trying to sell furnishings or housewares. It takes a lot of time, and it can cost more than you think to handle and move items to auction or consignment. Both auction and consignment operators require either email photos or a visit to view the items in advance of accepting them. If you have sterling silver, precious metals, jewelry, or other easy-to-handle, easy-to-sell items, take them to your local jeweler. For the rest, if you are truly in a hurry, it may be far cheaper and faster to donate them.

Give Stuff Away

You may consider opening the home to friends and neighbors, inviting them to take whatever they can and want for free. Although this approach may seem drastic, it can be an effective way of removing household items at no cost. If you choose to post this on, only share your personal details via private messages.

Consider donating any usable furnishings and housewares. Visit websites of local charities to learn acceptable items and to schedule pickups. Scheduling must be done weeks in advance, since pickups in your area may only be monthly.

Make a Plan for the Rest

Giving stuff away can be effective, but be prepared. There will definitely be things left over. If you have a large volume of stuff to clear, consider an onsite dumpster. Keep in mind that HOAs may require a dumpster permit. In addition, be ready to hire extra hands to physically remove items to put them in the dumpster. It’s a big job. I recommend hiring a junk removal company or hauler who charges either $100 to $150 an hour or by the one-quarter, one-half, or full truckload. The junk removal companies are the fastest option.

Don’t forget special procedures for removing household cleaners, cans of paint, fertilizer, oils, etc. Batteries and light bulbs can be recycled at Home Depot and Lowe’s. If your junk removal solution doesn’t handle household chemicals, you may have to do it yourself.

There is no such thing as downsizing on a dime. Regardless, start the process now! Invite people to take things, arrange for free donation pickups, and shop around for smart junk removal operators.

Call me at 480-720-8566 for resources, to learn about my free 30-minute consultation, or to speak to your group or event. Or reach me by email at [email protected], website: