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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