Tips for Downsizing After Unexpected Life Events


Unexpected events, both good and bad, happen all the time in families. These events can be as little as a family member giving you an heirloom that you don’t know what to do with, or a family member moving or dying. Either way, it comes with downsizing. 

When these things happen, you may have to help take care of the items that are left behind. When these events happen, here’s how you can handle the physical objects that are left behind. 

Do Everything in Steps

No matter the circumstance, downsizing is always a big task. It’s best to be broken down into small steps instead of jumping headfirst and getting overwhelmed. 

For instance, inheriting your family home could bring back a flood of happy memories and anxiety due to how big of a task it would be to modernize it and, potentially, move in. It’s a big job and can’t be finished overnight, so give yourself a timeline that works with your schedule. 

Keep, Donate, and Sell Some Things

No matter the cause, downsizing requires you to decide what you’re going to keep, what you’re going to sell, and what you’re going to donate. 

Go Room by Room

Similar to the step-by-step tip, you’ll want to tackle this room by room. It may help to start with smaller, less significant rooms before you dive into more time-consuming areas such as the bedroom or kitchen. 

Divy up the rooms between you and whomever is helping you so you cover the most ground in the smallest amount of time. 

Designate Where Things Should Go

The best thing you can do before you dive in is to have a plan of attack. We recommend starting with three boxes: one for donations, one for keeping, and one for throwing away. For example, make a list like this: 

Throw Away

  • Trash
  • Stained items
  • Torn items
  • Unsentimental items in a bad shape 


  • Anything in good condition that doesn’t have sentimental value, such as:
    • Figurines 
    • Clothes
    • Pots and pans
    • Artwork
    • Furniture
  • Older electronics
  • Things that don’t have a use/need in your home


  • Sentimental items
    • Photos
    • Recipes
    • Jewelry 
  • Important documents
  • Anything their/you pet needs
    • Food bowls, toys, a dog ACL brace
  • Anything you can use/will need in the future

Figure Out How to Store Things You’re Keeping

You may need to store a few things along the way, and that’s okay! Either you don’t have room for sentimental items in your current home, are moving things around in your home to make room, or you’re planning on renting the home in question with the furniture still in it, but need to clean and renovate it first. 

Some of the items are probably going to be a bit older. These won’t be as easy to store as “wrap it up and throw it in,” they’ll need some extra thought. For a complete guide on how to store antiques, you can read our guide here. 

Use a Label and Organization System That Works for You

The last thing you want is to try and track down boxes and items when they’re all packed away. To avoid this, keep reminding yourself that “to clean, you must first make a mess.” This means that you can expect a lot of packing, moving around, unpacking, moving around, and packing again. 

When you start the process, you’re going to want boxes that are clearly labelled Donate, Trash, and Keep. 

Once everything in the room/house is in those boxes, move them to their appropriate designation — the trash, or the donation center. You should only be left with “keep.” 

In the event of a family member’s death, the “keep” boxes should then be unpacked and divided out to the appropriate family member. Most of the larger items or items mentioned in the will should already be in their respective homes, but some will be left out. This is when you talk with your family and find new homes for the sentimental items. 

Get Personal Self Storage 

Sometimes, you just don’t have the room you need for everything. That’s okay! If you’re interested in renting a self-storage unit, Albuquerque Self Storage offers month-to-month contracts, so you can use it when you need it. And they don’t require a deposit!

You don’t have to worry about security either — their storage units are safe. Albuquerque Self Storage, has a well lit and gated facility for you to store your items and every unit is protected by a padlock. However, their units are not climate controlled, so keep that in mind!

If you’re interested in using us for your self storage needs, contact them today.

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