De-romanitizing Downsizing

Down­siz­ing sounds so nice as an abstract con­cept.

You see arti­cles and posts writ­ten on it every­where you turn, it seems.

How one woman down­sized and moved to Paris for love”

How we down­sized into a tiny house”

How we went from 3000 sq. ft. to a 35 ft sail­boat”

Sounds amaz­ing, right? Move into a small­er place, make some nice change from sell­ing crap you don’t need on Craigslist, and voila! Instant hap­pi­ness as you have 1,000,000 less sq ft to dust and clean.

Well let me tell you what.

Down­siz­ing SUCKS

For me, it meant mov­ing into about 250 sq ft (the effi­cien­cy unit in my first rental prop­er­ty). I have one 12′ x 13′ main room, a bath­room, a kitchen, one clos­et, and some hall­ways. I had an entire wall of box­es. My kitchen was full of box­es. The hall­way to my bath­room was stacked with box­es.

Thank god I had my attic to put some extra box­es in or else I’d still be pick­ing the crap out of my fin­gers and face from the stress.

Down­siz­ing means trip­ping over the same box 10 times in one day (and lots of swear­ing. Pret­ty sure my pinky toe was bro­ken.)

Down­siz­ing means throw­ing away a lot of pre­cious mem­o­ries. Ever seen some­one ugly cry as they hear the clay pot they made in 7th grade shat­ter into a mil­lion pieces? It’s not pret­ty.

Down­siz­ing means sell­ing your favorite pieces of fur­ni­ture to strangers on Craigslist who obvi­ous­ly will not love your table as much as you do. I mean, who paints a sol­id cher­ry din­ing room table? IT WAS BEAUTIFUL IN IT’S NATURAL STATE!!

I have a lot of pos­i­tive mem­o­ries asso­ci­at­ed with my fur­ni­ture. Play­ing cards by can­dle light at the table when the pow­er went out. Sleep­ing on my couch the sum­mer of my intern­ship because I didn’t have room for a bed. The feel­ing of ecsta­sy when my friend’s mom sold me her col­lec­tion of shelves that I’d drooled over for years. Noth­ing but the mem­o­ries and some pic­tures remain.

Of course.…. I also have a phat wad of cash in my pock­et now so that helps alle­vi­ate some of the pain.

Down­siz­ing means you have to get cre­ative with your stuff. No longer can you shove all your extra stuff in a spare room or the base­ment, close the door, and for­get about it. Nope. All your crap is every­where for every­one who comes over to see. My bed is cur­rent­ly lay­ing on the floor because I don’t have enough space to set up my bed frame. If I did, I would have about 24 inch­es left to slide into the bed. So, I will be build­ing a loft for my queen sized mat­tress. After I get that done, I can set up a desk under it and final­ly have some room to breathe and work at home. Until then, all social­iz­ing will have to be done at friends’ hous­es or out at a bar some­where.

See this pic­ture? This pic­ture is one of my proud­est achieve­ments. I moved that futon 10 whole feet by myself! That meant I had to clean off the floor space, which meant dump­ing a whole bunch of stuff on my bed. You can see it if you look close­ly enough. I did that on pur­pose for two rea­sons: one, I had lit­er­al­ly nowhere else to put it and two, it’s effec­tive for mak­ing me do some­thing with it right then and there and not put it off. I want­ed to sleep in my own bed, dammit.

Then I had to push and pull the futon around the box­es in the kitchen and through the nar­row hall­way. I tried it on end and it got stuck in between the door­ways, so then I had to push it back out, low­er it and shove it through that way while try­ing not to destroy the wood­work or walls.

After I got it into place the futon went on the frame, the box­es behind the frame and on the bed when on the futon and I pushed it back against the wall. It is stay­ing there until I get the loft frame built. Phew!

I kind of wish I had tak­en a time­lapse video and set it to Yakety Sax because I would have been very enter­tained watch­ing that 10 years from now.

Final­ly, down­siz­ing into such a small space requires you to be neat. So neat. All. the. time.

Because you sim­ply don’t have the space to walk around piles of shoes or a heap of cloth­ing. I’m usu­al­ly a clean, but messy per­son. I sub­scribe to the “messy piles” camp of orga­ni­za­tion. I can have a pile of papers and tell you exact­ly where every­thing is in the pile. (I’ve been this way for ages. Just ask my sis­ter who had to share a room with me at one point or oth­er mem­bers of my fam­i­ly. Mom, stop laugh­ing at me!) I can’t say the same about putting paper­work in files and putting that in a file draw­er.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly for me, I don’t have room for the messy piles any more. Clothes now get tossed in the ham­per, dish­es get washed and put away imme­di­ate­ly, books get put back on the shelf when I’m done with it, and my coat gets hung up next to the door instead of tossed over the back of my chair.

Let me stress that none of these things detailed above are par­tic­u­lar­ly a bad thing. It is just such a change from what I’m used to that I’m strug­gling to adapt to this new way of life. I sus­pect this would be a lot eas­i­er if I wasn’t also stressed out about the debt, being a land­lord, and try­ing to get a han­dle on all the stuff around the house that needs to be fixed or updat­ed.

I have no doubt in time I will get a sys­tem worked out and adapt to this new way of life. Until then, I shall con­tin­ue to skirt around box­es and rum­mage through them for some­thing I could’ve sworn was in that box!

Read­ers, have you down­sized? What did you strug­gle the most with?

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24 thoughts on “De-romanitizing Downsizing

  1. Ugh, gross! But go you for com­mit­ting to a small­er space. 🙂 It’ll be won­der­ful once every­thing is nice ‘n’ orga­nized. I can’t offer too much help since I’ve nev­er real­ly down­sized myself. But after liv­ing in dorms for a few years, my advice is to orga­nize ver­ti­cal­ly for max­i­mum floor space. Good luck!!
    Mrs. Picky Pinch­er recent­ly post­ed…What’s your biggest mon­ey chal­lenge?My Profile

    • The bed get­ting off the floor will be the biggest help out of every­thing! And some wire shelv­ing for the kitchen would rock, too.

  2. Nev­er down­sized. Only upsized, from a 650 sq. ft apart­ment to a 1,900 sq. ft house. I don’t know how we’d ever down­size, because you get so used to the space. It’s dan­ger­ous.

    I read Marie Kondo’s book. Peo­ple say it’s cheesy or that she’s full of it, but I found a lot of help­ful ways to think about clut­ter in there. I’m sure once you get every­thing sort­ed out, you’ll be a lot less stressed. That visu­al clut­ter can cause a lot of stress, prob­a­bly more so if you’re for­mer mil­i­tary!
    Norm recent­ly post­ed…Ridinku­lous Quar­ter­ly Expens­es – Q1 2017My Profile

    • Oh yes.… I’m so used to every­thing hav­ing a place! (even if that place is a messy pile on my desk!)

  3. Go you, way to move that futon!

    I love the feel of down­siz­ing when I still get to keep the space and just get the stuff out. I hate the idea of down­siz­ing when I have to move into a small­er space — it’s every bit as stress­ful as you’ve felt! I’m prac­tic­ing now because I made PiC promise that no mat­ter what size space we get into, I do NOT want to have that one room that gets filled to the brim with stuff that doesn’t have a real home or pur­pose any­more.
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recent­ly post­ed…Just a lit­tle (link) love: I love you, robot edi­tionMy Profile

      • Tidy­ing has the ben­e­fit of being a “key­stone habit” that can trig­ger oth­er pos­i­tive behav­iors. When you get to the last chap­ters of the book, she makes claims that seem rather expan­sive, but i think the under­ly­ing cause is tidying’s pow­er as a trig­ger.

  4. Hilar­i­ous!

    I down­sized in 2014 from a ~2,300 sqft house to a 1,720 square foot house and love it! It’s not a huge down­size, but it is a respectable 27% small­er.

    It feels right­sized and more effi­cient. Less waste.


    • Good on ya Sam! (I would like to point out, though, that your bath­room at 170 sq ft is big­ger than half my entire apart­ment!)

  5. I used to hang on to every­thing lit­tle thing that I bought or was giv­en. Over the years it became unruly with the amount of crap that I had lay­ing around just wait­ing for the one moment that I may need it. Over the past year, I had a big change of heart and have just start­ed purg­ing any­thing that isn’t nec­es­sary or as The Minimalist’s say doesn’t “add val­ue to your life”. I think it is impor­tant to remem­ber that things are just objects and it is peo­ple that add the emo­tion­al val­ue to it. Hon­est­ly, I got sick of the wast­ed ener­gy I spent on some things: try­ing to find it, clean it, think about it, wor­ry about it not get­ting bro­ken, etc. It was actu­al­ly refresh­ing to get rid of the stuff and allowed me to focus on the more impor­tant things in life.

    • You must feel so much bet­ter! I know I do! I took lots of pic­tures before I threw it all away, too, so I can remem­ber them down the road.

  6. Haha, you are so right that down­siz­ing is por­trayed in such a pos­i­tive light. I know peo­ple who dream of liv­ing in tiny hous­es, and I just can’t imag­ine it. I’m a bit claus­tro­pho­bic, so it def­i­nite­ly wouldn’t work for me! My hub­by and I are plan­ning to buy a small town home in a cou­ple years. The fun­ny thing is, we’ve been rent­ing a room from my par­ents while we pay off debt…so even if your future home is small, it’ll prob­a­bly feel huge to us since we’ll have an entire home that’s only ours.
    Fru­gal Mil­len­ni­al recent­ly post­ed…The Solu­tion to The Stu­dent Loan Cri­sisMy Profile

    • Mov­ing into a tiny house sounds appeal­ing at first, but I real­ized after watch­ing a few episodes of a TV show about it that they were vir­tu­al­ly the same as mov­ing into a camper/RV. I sort of like camp­ing for a week­end or two, but I’d nev­er sub­ject a wife and kids to it on a non-tem­po­rary basis.

  7. When we’ve down­sized (always tem­porar­i­ly), we just haven’t brought any stuff with us. Either we’re rent­ing a fur­nished place or we acquire used stuff once we get there.

    We have been able do that, because in our youth our par­ents allowed us to use their attics as stor­age and as adults approach­ing mid­dle-age, we’ve had an attic of our own back where we usu­al­ly live. That means we haven’t wor­ried about los­ing stuff that we want to keep for­ev­er even if we don’t need it that exact year. And there’s the knowl­edge that the down­siz­ing is tem­po­rary.

    Still, it’s kind of annoy­ing.
    nicole­and­mag­gie recent­ly post­ed…Sym­pa­thy and the Oth­erMy Profile

  8. Ah yeah I wish I could do that! Unfor­tu­nate­ly my fam­i­ly said get your stuff out­ta here, and my oth­er friends don’t have room either. I have a won­der­ful­ly spa­cious attic, but it’s unfin­ished. I don’t want to put a bunch of crap up there and then have to work around it when I fin­ish it, but I sus­pect that’s what I’ll end up doing any­ways.

  9. I actu­al­ly enjoyed down­siz­ing! Less space to fill, less $$ to spend on stuff to fill the space and cheap­er util­i­ties because it’s a small­er area.

    I just spent a month in a 1950’s trail­er and now I feel like a stu­dio apart­ment would feel com­par­a­tive­ly huge. 😀 Still, I think I’d pre­fer to have sep­a­rate sleep­ing and liv­ing areas, so I’d def go for a 1 bed­room apart­ment vs just a “large” room, like a stu­dio.

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