Even when you have made the decision to downsize it can be months before you actually move out. For us this was valuable time not be wasted.
As soon as we had decided to sell our house we began to prepare for the move. We started by sorting our possessions into different categories – some to keep, some to go down to the Oxfam shop, some to give away and the rest to go for recycling. First thing was to clear out all the collected stuff we had accumulated over the years but wouldn’t be needed in the future. This can be a daunting task. (n.b. “stuff” is the technical term for all your possessions from now on).
The important thing is to be methodical, so we started with the garden shed and garage. We got rid of anything that quite obviously we were not going to use again. The old strimmer that we replaced 15 years previously because it stopped working and had been hanging onto ever since “just in case” had to go. It would never work again, because you can’t get the spare parts anymore.
Gardeners are the worst hoarders and I was no exception. Old plant pots, broken implements, left over bits of roofing felt and wire fencing – it all had to go. Most towns have a recycling centre now. (n.b. now to be called the “dump”). It didn’t take long to get to know the most convenient and how they handled unwanted stuff. We pre-sorted everything that was going to the dump. Ferrous or non-ferrous metals, cardboard, and so on. This made life a lot easier, especially once we got to know where the various containers were – and saved us a lot of time and energy.
When we had cleared everything out of the garage we thought we should get rid of we took out anything left and put it on the ground outside. We swept out the garage and removed anything we were not going to leave behind. That just left the walls, ceiling, floor and door and nothing else. This is how our buyer would expect to find it when they moved in, and if it was full of junk we could be charged for its removal.
We then put back anything we decided to keep or pass on to friends or relatives. Anything left outside had to go down to the dump. We had to be ruthless. If it hadn’t moved for the last 5 years we weren’t going to need it again. The objective of the exercise was to get rid of stuff, not to hang on to anything just in case.
This was a tried and trusted method, and it worked for us. Not only did we clear out all the clutter accumulated over the years, but the garage was now clean and tidy.
If you want to sell your house for the best price, it has to be presented in tip-top condition. Your garage will look larger, but just as important any prospective buyer can see that you take good care of your property, and make it more desirable. Eventually when the house was sold we would have to remove any rubbish or unwanted stuff, so it’s worth starting from the outset with that in mind.
The same principle applied to every other part of your house, and we went through it room by room. That’s when the real problems start.
I set myself a target of at least one trip to the dump or Oxfam shop every other day. No matter where it came from, the garden, cupboard under the stairs or roof spaces that was the target. Eventually we got to the point where there was virtually nothing left to clear out.
There is the more methodical way – going through the house one room at a time. This can be a bit depressing because you keep on thinking about the rest of the house still to do and you risk getting hung up on one piece of furniture so the whole process stalls.
At the same time we carried out any minor maintenance jobs needed. In our case it took 6 weeks to prepare the house for an estate agent to come round, take photographs and decide on the all important sale price. We were finally taking the first steps to downsize to a more suitable property.