If your PCS means downsizing to a smaller home, here are 6 ways to get comfortable with less space.
As military families, we learn how to make any house a home. We appreciate flexible furniture that we might use in the living room in one house and a bedroom in the next. Storage spaces become an ongoing game of box tetris. At some point, we find ourselves needing to downsize. It might be a move to the Metro DC area, apartments in Germany or Hawaii. It might be a cost saving measure as you re-do the family budget. What ever the reason, moving to a smaller home presents a challenge – one that these 6 tips will help you meet!
Ask This Question
When space is really at a premium, it all comes down to this question – why am I keeping this?
It’s more than just asking if you need something. A good starting point may be to separate any item that you haven’t used in the last year. Whether it’s those jeans from when you were 22 or that bike that you meant to fix up, it’s ok to decide you’re not going to get back to it after all. If the item is still in great shape, a donate box or planning a yard sale is a great option.
But what about those items that have sentimental value? As military families, our belongings are often what makes a new place feel like ours. We may not know the grocery stores, restaurants or neighbors, but that clock on the wall was bought on a honeymoon or vacation. There is a balance to be found between prioritizing space and holding on the mementos of our journey.
Do A Thorough Clean Sweep
Even though we know a move is coming, getting rid of clutter can easily slide to the bottom of the To Do list. It may be easier (and more effective) to set aside a day or weekend to make a clean sweep of the major areas in your home. Pull out a few garbage bags, set up boxes for donate and yard sale/sell and dive in.
Consider Size, Too
Finding the right furniture for a small space creates more room for the other things you want to keep. A large sectional in DC apartment might mean less space for your entertainment center or a shelf for a collection of mementos. One advantage to living in a military community is that there are always people looking for furniture! So if your current furnishings aren’t the right fit for your new/next home, consider selling them to fund the purchase of something that is.
Include A Maybe-Keep Box
The uncertainty of not knowing exactly what you’re getting into with your next home complicates de-cluttering. A “maybe” box might be the answer. As you’re sorting through your belongings, set aside those things that you would like to hold on but aren’t a necessity. This way, as you’re getting situated in your new home, you can prioritize placement of the things you know you want to keep and fit in the “maybes” as space allows.
Open Every Box
After a move or two, you start to have those boxes. The ones that might get opened and rifled through but are never actually unpacked. The packers simply tape over and place a new tag. Take the time to go through every box to weed out what you really need to keep and the things that were also tossed in. Consolidating those boxes down to efficient storage makes a huge difference when you are limited to a smaller living space (which normally comes with limited storage).
Go Digital Where Possible
Along the same lines as consolidating the tag along boxes, it’s time to digitalize those paper records that you hang onto just in case. While I keep a handful of my son’s drawings, homework and certificates each year, I’ve started scanning the majority. It makes it easier to share with our extended family plus cuts down on the amount of stuff we’re storing at each home.
The same principle applies for documents like our PCS paperwork. Because there have been instances where DoD goes back and charges overages after the fact, I don’t want to throw away the paperwork. But an external hard drive with the scanned paperwork takes up much less room that file folders of documents.
The key to making the most of a smaller home? Making the most of the space you do have. Keeping those things that are most important to you front and center, and eliminating what adds stress, sets you up to enjoy an assignment in any location!
What was the smallest home you’ve experienced?