Hi, I’m Rita Wilkins, also known as the downsizing designer. Are you considering downsizing? You know, due to the pandemic, our lives have changed so drastically and many people are seriously considering renovations to their homes or looking for another type of home that will serve them better. And in many cases, they’re wanting to downsize.
So, if you are considering downsizing, one of the most important things to first ask yourself is why? Why do I want to downsize? You know, certainly there’s many reasons that people downsize, one of which is finances; so many people have lost their jobs during COVID. People that might have lost a spouse, or because of divorce, but then there’s the other have-to. Some people want to downsize because they simply want a different kind of lifestyle.
For those of you that don’t know me, I became known as the downsizing designer. Several years ago, when I went to visit my son in Senegal, who was serving in the Peace Corps at the time, I stayed with him in his hut for a month, and that trip changed my life. I had never seen people that had so little but they were happy. And when I got on the plane to come back home, and I got into my big, beautiful designer home, I walked around and nothing was the same to me. It was almost like the lights went out.
It took me about a year to just learn that, you know, I really don’t want all of this beautiful stuff anymore. I wanted that simple, joy-filled life like I had experienced. So I chose to downsize from 5,000 square feet to my beautiful little apartment here in Center City, Philadelphia. I gave away 95% of my stuff to people who needed or wanted it, and I’ve never been happier. So that’s why I’m called the “Downsizing Designer.”
I also have an interior design firm, I’ve had it for 36 years, and we’ve done work all over the country. We’ve done beautiful interiors and I still love doing those interiors, but my choice for my lifestyle was to live with less, that was my why. So whatever your why is to downsize, keep that clear in your mind because the process of downsizing is rather arduous, and it is emotional. So remembering “why” you want to downsize will help you be successful in that journey.
So what are the upsides of downsizing? Well, for sure you have more time and less stuff and less clutter. And when you get rid of all that clutter, you’re actually making room for other things that matter most to you. So it’s kind of an opportunity for you to experience your life differently and more fully. When you have less stuff, you have fewer distractions. And that gives you a little higher quality of life, and more time with your family, friends, whatever it is that you want to do.
Another upside of downsizing is more freedom and less expense. When you have less space, less stuff, less furniture, you have less maintenance, less cleaning, less to manage, and less to pay for. There’s more of an opportunity for you to use your money differently, for a lifestyle that you’re now choosing, whether it’s vacation or education or experiences. You know one of the benefits of downsizing is that you potentially have quite a bit more money. Another is that you’ll have more peace of mind, less stress and less anxiety. Stuff, too much stuff brings on anxiety. I think we’ve all noticed this during COVID-19. There’s clutter, there’s overwhelm, and just a general dissatisfaction. When you own less, you have less clutter, and you can then prioritize more of what matters most to you. And also you spend less time organizing and managing all of that stuff.
Another upside to downsizing is more mobility, more flexibility, and I like to add less responsibility. At this stage of the game, to have less responsibility is actually something I think is fun and I think something as a baby boomer we deserve. So, when you have more time and freedom, that’s your precious commodities, that they become more available to you when you own less and when you live with less. It becomes an opportunity for you to become more agile, more mobile, when you don’t have to care for all of that stuff anymore. It’s like having a fresh start to a whole new life that matters more to you.
A major benefit is more efficiency and less waste. When you have a good floor plan, and it could be much smaller, when it’s laid out well, and when it works for your unique needs and your lifestyle. You’ll find that it’s much more efficient. Right now I live in 867 square feet versus 5,000. I happen to have a very efficient floor plan so I can entertain up to 10 or 12 people. It’s not the same as when it was in my large home, but it’s so efficient and it’s just so much more manageable. I have more energy and more time and more resources to enjoy my lifestyle here.
It does impact the quality of how you live work and play. So, if you are considering downsizing, you know, it’s also important to weigh the other side what are the downsides of downsizing? Number one is it’s an emotional experience. I think if you know that and you’re braced for it, it’ll probably be so much easier. I was not necessarily braced for how emotional it was, and I caught myself crying, at least once a day. And it was over silly stuff! Well, right now it looks silly but then it was not silly.
One reason people choose to stay or they’re reluctant to move is they’re resistant to letting go of the house, the memories, and all their possessions. They don’t want to say goodbye to that because they’re attached to it and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that if you do choose to downsize, you have to know that it’s emotional, and that you will need to learn how to let go.
A second downside to downsizing is that you will have less space. That’s living space, workspace, storage space, and you’ll have to get rid of some of the stuff and having those decisions ahead of you it’s important to realize, you’re gonna have less space, so therefore you have to have less stuff. You don’t want to clutter your new space, that’s for sure. So part of where my life as a designer has made all the difference for me was, I knew what would look good and not look good, and what would fit and not fit. That’s one of the ways we help our clients. You don’t want to clutter your space too much, because it’ll close in on you very, very quickly. Decisions need to be made about what stays, what goes, what fits, what doesn’t fit.
Then a third, downside to downsizing is that it can be expensive. Moving is expensive, you know, related to selling the house, getting the house ready to sell, buying a new home, the actual moving costs themselves. It’s important to weigh all the costs before you say, “Yes, I want to downsize.” Another thing is if you bring too much stuff with you, like I did. I’ve rented a storage unit for three years, and it was $1,200 or $1,400 dollars a year. It’s kind of a lot of money to spend on all of your stuff just sitting there. And honestly, I did it. I rarely went there. Then just last December, I decided it was time to get rid of the storage unit and stop wasting that money. I did actually get rid of it. But, I will say that at the time of moving, I was not ready to get rid of it. That was just one of the added costs that I hadn’t planned on when I moved and when I downsized.
A fourth downside to downsizing is your life will be turned around for a little while. Any move is disruptive, but leaving old friends, old neighbors, old, favorite restaurants, old favorite stores, all of that. That’s part of the emotional disruption. But on the other side, you know, is you have new friends, new places to go. So, if you do decide to downsize, in my opinion, it’s worth it in the end, new lifestyle, a simple, less cluttered life, more time, more freedom, more money. If you need guidance in that, you are welcome to reach out to me here: https://calendly.com/rwilkins/coaching-call-with-rita?back=1&month=2020-09. You can also set up a call with me there I’d be glad to talk to you.
When I downsize as a designer, we create structures for everything so that things are easier and more manageable. I created a structure for downsizing and it’s a free download. Just go on and sign up for that and it’ll be delivered to you here: https://www.designservicesltd.com/abcs-of-downsizing/ Then the other thing is I do have a book, Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle. It’s on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733433805. It’s also a best seller.
That might help you with your decision to downsize and if we can help you in any way please reach out to me. I hope this helped. Take care.