Downsizing in Scotland

Preparing for a move can be one of the most stressful experiences in life. This is especially true when you are selling and purchasing at the same time. Can a move to a smaller home make the experience less stressful? When preparing to move to a smaller home, Alison and Bill McCulloch of Bonnyrigg, Scotland, made a stress-free move by paring down their possessions to the extreme.

From the Daily Record article:

Deciding to sell the family home and downsize, the pair snapped up a two bedroom home in Bonnyrigg early last year.

But instead of waiting for their move in day to arrive, the canny couple set about making their first move in over 30 years as stress-free as possible.

They chucked out anything they didn’t need – including old furniture and toys.

And when the big day arrived, Alison and Bill moved in with just a bed, a washing machine and a microwave.

Although their circumstances are different than the one my wife and I faced a year ago, their preparation for the downsizing process was very similar. Getting rid of things you don’t need before you move is preferable to moving loads of things you won’t ever use. You likely will want to keep more than three belongings — like we did — but this story does sound very liberating.

Donating, selling, or recycling items that you do not need anymore can make the moving process much more manageable. We opted for a yard sale while relying on Craigslist to sell off larger pieces of furniture.

If you have recently downsized or plan on downsizing, please share your experience with us in the comments.

19 Comments for “Downsizing in Scotland”

  1. posted by Rue on

    I think downsizing to that extreme is a little much. But as someone who has moved three times in the past year, I can say that downsizing BEFORE you move is definitely the best solution. Over the past year (and a little before that for me), my husband and I have been paring down the things we own to the point where everything we own is something we either use or love. The great thing about this is that when we pack up to move in a month, we won’t have nearly as many things to move as we would have if we hadn’t decluttered.

    I’ve taken most of my useable goods to Goodwill (or given them to friends). Anything that I thought I could actually sell for money went on eBay, and furniture items have gone on Craigslist.

    The only thing I want to say to anyone who’s downsizing – PLEASE don’t throw anything that’s useable into a dumpster or compactor – it’s wasteful and takes up valuable trash room! Have a yard sale, and/or take items to Goodwill. If you don’t have a vehicle to do so, I believe most Salvation Army stores will come pick up items as long as you call them first. Some charities will also do so.

  2. posted by Jesse on

    I’m planning an international move this summer. Currently I’m living in a 300 sq ft basement space with a shared kitchen upstairs. Once I move, I’ll be living in a ~750 sq ft 3 bedroom flat with at least 2 roommates…so I’m not going to have alot of space of my own.
    I’ve been working on purging for the better part of the last year already, so I’ve got it down to the bare necessities already. I’m likely to be moving with 2 huge duffel bags and a large backpack. I’ll then ship one shipment including my bed, one easily broken down shelving unit (IKEA flatpack), and a small assortment of camping equipment that I’m just not ready to part with (2 person tent, sleeping bag, camp chair). And that’s it!

    I’ve really learned alot about myself in the past months as I get rid of unused STUFF. The purge feels like it was half physical STUFF and half mental STUFF, and that is a great feeling!

  3. posted by Suzyn on

    Last year, I helped my mom move from an over-crowded 1000 sf apt, which contained the contents of several storage units she’d collected over the years (when moving out of even larger places), to a 400 sf apt in her dream city (NYC!). It was difficult, not so much logistically, but emotionally. It was a lifetime’s worth of stuff she had to sort through, with all the memories and emotions that came along with it. And discovering that her “treasures” weren’t worth that much on ebay didn’t make it easier.

    BUT – there is a happy ending. She did finally get it down to 400 sf, and she is LOVING life! She loves NY, and she loves knowing that she only has stuff that works and that she loves and uses.

    One caveat – if you’re going through this process, please check the urge to give your beloved treasures to family. Let them come and pick what they’d like, and then give the rest to Goodwill. If you press stuff on them, particularly with comments about family heirlooms, it’ll just become that much more clutter in THEIR lives!

  4. posted by Rich on

    My wife and I are in the process of a moving to a new house. It’s actually a little bit larger (but not a large house by any stretch), but we’re taking the opportunity to purge a bunch of unused stuff. We found a church group that is helping a single mother with two young babies get back on her feet (she was previously living in a battered woman’s shelter with her kids). It was a complete win-win – we got rid of stuff that we no longer needed (baby clothes, etc) and she gets a bunch of useful stuff. Perfect! Also, nothing ended up in the landfill.

    So I agree with Rue – please don’t throw your old stuff away! It could be very useful to someone that has a whole lot less than you!

  5. posted by DJ on

    Before moving cross-country four years ago, I spent the six months before the move sorting through our belongings and donating away as many things as I could.

    My family laughed at me, but on moving day, they admitted that we would never have been able to get our things packed in a day, if I hadn’t lightened our load so much.

  6. posted by Amy on

    We’re moving from an 1800sf townhouse to an 850sf house, and we had to get rid of junk and unwanted items before we even had room to start packing. Several carloads of donations, mountains of trash/recyclables, and a few “to shred” boxes later, and we’re breathing much easier and finally ready to pack.

    We made that progress just by having a good friend come over to “supervise” – the presence of a neutral third party makes ALL the difference in terms of how quickly decisions are made and how ruthless we’re willing to be in letting things go. (Also, that friend’s primary responsibility is to keep the wine glasses full throughout the day, which turns the whole event into a party!)

    We still have a couple of large pieces of furniture to sell on craigslist, but we’re SO much better off now than we were just a few days ago. The moral of this story: don’t be afraid to ask for help!

  7. posted by Sandy on

    The last time I moved was from 3rd floor apartment in New York City to Florida and I procrastinated until the movers came so they put everything on the truck including a broken TV set. Now I’m trying to “downsize” with Freecycle and Craigslist before the house painters descend on me and I have to scramble. I’m learning and unclutterer has been a great help.

  8. posted by LBell on

    An inability to pay the high cost associated with interstate moving caused me to drastically downsize for the first time four years ago. I still had enough to fill most of a small U-Haul (not the trailer; an actual truck) but the only pieces of furniture I took with me were my bookcases and a 15-year-old pressboard cabinet. Fortunately, the college town I moved to had a plethora of places where I could get decent used furniture cheap and, in some cases, free. I spent approximately $200 to furnish my living room and breakfast nook.

    No doubt it evens out in the wash (buying quality NEW furniture that you take with you from place to place vs. discarding and replacing USED furniture with each move). There’s something to be said for not being too attached to things…

  9. posted by 19thandfolsom on

    Clearing out before moving is just basic sense – why would anyone want to hold onto and move things that will be discarded after the move, instead of disposing of them beforehand?

    I recently moved from a studio with a large bed/main room to a slightly smaller room in a shared apartment, and before moving, I went through the pantry and closets to find anything I wasn’t likely to use (most of which had been given to me by friends who were moving, haha). Some things went to the apartment lobby with a “FREE” sign on them and were quickly snapped up, some were taken by friends, and some went to Craigslist, and I probably got rid of two boxes of stuff, plus a TV! :)

  10. posted by Karyn on

    If I were going to get that extreme, I’d only have two items, because I don’t use a microwave! :D Assuming, of course, the house came equipped with a regular oven and other appliances. And if it didn’t, well, where’s the refrigerator/freezer? I don’t think I could live without one of those!

    Anyway, I’ve done the downscaling in previous moves, the most extreme being a move from a large two-bedroom apartment–with large storage unit in the basement and tons of closet space in the apartment–to renting a single room with one tiny closet and a couple of shelves of storage in the basement. I made many trips to the surplus store, which in this case was a small, locally-owned store run by a local church. I encourage people to support these kinds of businesses as well, instead of just defaulting to Goodwill without seeing what other options you have in your city.

    Of course, many people will have enough extra “stuff” to keep several surplus stores well stocked. ;-)

  11. posted by Sky on

    Isn’t it crazy how much stuff we accumulate? I moved 18 months ago and I thought I lightened my load beforehand. But after moving in, I still had plenty of uncluttering to do. I mostly am uncluttered except for the attic and shed.
    Simplify, simplify….

  12. posted by Thelma Bowlen on

    My daughter and I are getting ready to move into our 15th place. We gone from a five-bedroom home to various-sized apartments over the last decade since my mom passed away in 1997. I’ve gotten ruthless at downsizing; I have a charity pile, a throw away pile, a give away pile and because of what I’ve learned on Unclutterer, most of my files have been digitized. Organized and simplified is liberating!

  13. posted by Catherine Cantieri, Sorted on

    In 2002, when I moved from Austin, TX, to NYC, I moved by plane. I sold the valuable stuff on Amazon and eBay (including my 1970 VW Bus!), sold the regular stuff in a yard sale, packed up my computer using my inflatable bed for padding and shipped it to my parents for storage until I had an address, put my 2 cats in 1 carrier and carried them on to the plane (I checked 2 large bags of clothes). Now, with a house and a marriage (and those same 2 cats!), I’m not sure I could do it again. But then, I like my house, so I’m not sure I’d want to.

  14. posted by oklagirl on

    In the past year, I’ve helped my best friend and my parents move. I was glad to be of help, but both processes were infuriating. My parents haven’t moved in almost 20 years, my BF had just moved to another state only a year before, but all they had a ton of SH*T. Not stuff, just crap.
    After wrapping, packing, hoisting the box onto a trailer, driving to the new house, unloading the trailer, opening the box and then you hear, “Oh, that was supposed to go in the trash!” Or, “I don’t even know what’s in that box, I moved it last time!”. At my BF’s new house, we spent the second moving day at the new house going through everything and sorting into Keep, Give Away, and Trash. AFTER we unpacked it all. It makes so much more sense to do all that before a move. Moving is stressful enough without loading yourself (or your friends) down with useless clutter. Keep these kinds of stories comin’!

  15. posted by Tabatha on

    i juts moved in November of last year and i though i had gotten rid of all i needed to. till i got here. the move had actually taken place over several months b/c i moved in with my boyfriend who lived three hours away. so on visits i would bring stuff or he would take stuff back home with him. even after getting rid of everything that wouldn’t fit in either of our cars i still had to much. i have made like 7 trips to goodwill since i moved.

  16. posted by Jen Smith on

    I moved from a 4br house stuffed to the rafters to a 2br bungalow a couple of years ago. I got rid of quite a lot of stuff at that time but not nearly enough. I have been stifling in the smaller house and cant use one of the BRs because it is so full of the “stuff” I couldnt bear to part with. I am now in the process of trying to part with the majority (ok 1/2) of that stuff. I have made a list of the items in each room and what to do with each – keep, sell, donate. I have made 2 passes in the past year for a church auction and a yard sale but I still need to cut my stuff by 1/2.

    Now it is a matter of getting down to the list. I am using advice from unclutterer quite a bit and taking photos of everything. This will allow me to keep an inventory of the “keep” items, ebay or craigslist the sell items and keep track of the donated items for my taxes. It also is letting me part with more stuff because I will have the picture to remind me. It is time consuming and I need to figure out either how to do it quickly or how to deal with the clutter of the work in process. I know it will be great when I am done but in the meantime – its overwhelming.

    One other thing I am doing is boxing EVERYTHING up – even the items I have labeled to keep. The clutter everywhere has been making me crazy and I want to live minimalist for a while to see how I like it – maybe I will be able to part with more of the “keep” pile after not looking at it for a few months.

  17. posted by Ashley on

    These comments have been helpful, and I’m sifting through them in anticipation of our coming move. Our down-size to the new house means losing some rooms: family room, guest room and three small storage rooms. I have some detailed plans already for getting rid of much of what we’ve accumulated…

    1) In the children’s rooms, I intend to give them each three large boxes/ bins and help them fit what they want to keep into those bins. Whatever doesn’t fit they will donate, so they will have to carefully consider what to put in! That’s just for their toys, books, etc. I’ll go through their clothes with them, have them try on any old stuff and donate the outgrown things, of course, including their off-season clothing.

    2) In the storage rooms now there’s quite a hodgepodge of camping gear, Christmas decorations, old wall-hangings, random furniture, files, office supplies, and even my grandma’s china and my old college textbooks. We need to get rid of at least a third of our Christmas stuff! I want to go through it and get rid of any generic decorations, only keeping the ornaments that have family value (handmade or souvenir ones). Camping gear– unfortunately, it’s bulky and only used seasonally, but so expensive to replace that we will lug it all with us. Heaven knows where we’ll store it. College notes and textbooks have to go to recycling; we always think we’ll use them for reference, but they get outdated so quickly! Grandma’s china (sigh) though only used once a year, must be kept as a legacy (but maybe could be pared down from 12 place settings to 8). I am a little hesitant to get rid of any stored wall-hangings or bits of furniture, since I don’t yet know what will be needed in our new house…
    3) I am a ‘discouraged’ crafter, always bored with old projects and trying something new, so I have a collection of unfinished projects and dust-collecting craft supplies which simply must go. They cause me far too much guilt anyway. It will feel good to be rid of their accusing presence…
    4) My garden is very important to me, and so I plan to take cuttings of many of my perennial plants and shrubs, and pot them up to move to the new place. But my shed is filled with forgotten pots and old tools, which need to be ‘weeded’ out! Not even sure if I’ll have a shed at the new garden, so better just go with my bare necessities.
    5) Moving will be a good time to sort through the pantry and toss those stale spices, and half-used mix packets. Horray! Also, candles that I’ve never burned, odd-shaped tupperware that has only one use, and gadgets stuffed in the back of drawers: goodbye.
    6) My jewelry currently fills several shoe-boxes–good grief! This will be a great time to pick out only my favorite and most valuable pieces, and let go of the bracelets I wore in high-school, and the earrings that hurt my ears.
    7) Books I read once, but wouldn’t bother reading again: out you go!
    9) Our CD and DVD collection we plan to cull through and (I’m very excited about this) transfer from their plastic cases to several pocket binders! At first we thought we should keep the cases in case we ever want to sell them, but then we said: “Ha! When have we ever sold a CD or DVD?” Recycling. We haven’t bought a CD in ages either thanks to iTunes.
    10) Files! Time to shred. We should be able to get the several banker’s boxes amalgamated into one filing drawer. Who spreads the rumor that you need to keep your phone bills for seven years!?
    11) I think it’s time to get rid of my punch bowl. There’s nothing more unwieldy and less useful. I have always hated it– why do I have it?

    I hope my musings about our future move, might give someone a few good ideas. Perhaps I should reply to my post in a few months after the ordeal, to confess whether I really did all these things as boldly as I intended!

  18. posted by Peg Bracken Fan on

    I learned something valuable in our last move–although the new place had the same square footage as the old place, it had one more room, which meant smaller spaces than the old place. About half our furniture didn’t fit. It was a real hassle living surrounded with surplus furniture until we could find the time and energy to get rid of it all. Also, we could have used the money from selling our unwanted furniture to furnish the new place!

    As we househunt this time around, I am measuring all of our furniture in preparation for our eventual move. When we do settle on a place, I will measure all of the new rooms, put them into SketchUp, and see if the furniture will fit. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go on the moving truck.

  19. posted by C. on

    In 2003 I moved from a 450 sq. foot apartment to Japan. Two bags went with me. The cat when to family along with three or so pieces of heirloom furniture and my one trunk of “memorabilia” and piles and piles of books.

    When I returned and moved in with my fiance all of that came out of storage and into his house. (storage was a family barn so free)

    He helped move it all in and then said “is that all you own?” You don’t own anything. He’s kind of right. My books take up half of the library (only) my heirlooms are in our room and the library.

    I love them and care for them well. I’ve bought a few new things since I moved in with him – sewing machine, plants, etc. Nothing major. Most of my time has been throwing out his unused, unusable and broken items. We’re almost down to my heirlooms, his dining table and just a few extras. It is kind of funny that MY stuff was the usable, keep-able stuff. But those were decisions I made before I got on the plane. funny how almost 10 years later they were the right decisions.

    We DO have extras. Extra beds, extra dressers, extra coats, hats, mittens etc. But we also rent out our extra space and the people moving in and out are often overseas students or college students without GOOD (non-particle board) furniture and so we put them in a room with our solid stuff and they seem very very happy to have a full complement of living “equipment” without having to bring their own stuff. It keeps things clean, neat and usable to 6 or more adults in the same house. :D

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