The Big Purge Is Upon Us

I’ve written several posts on the merits of Spring cleaning in concert with annual efforts to rid our household of unneeded items. With a clear intention to downsize, I’m glad that we chipped away at the task over the years. This week, that rooster has come to roost.

We put our house on the market a week ago in hopes that we might attract interest prior to the coming school year. We’d spent a week-plus cleaning and decluttering before photo shoot and made sure the yard was in tip-top shape. I dreaded the placement of the lock box on the front door and the implied requirement to keep the house tidy consistently. But that’s the deal when selling a house.

The opening day for showings brought three couples to the house all of whom were interested in buying it. By the end of Day 2, we were under contract for sale! We’re slated to close escrow by month end and have up to 59 days thereafter to rent the place back. Now the real work begins.

downsizing decisionsMy sister-in-law preceded us in this daunting task by a few months. I am taking her stellar piece of advice: Do something every day to make progress toward moving.

While I have a high degree of confidence that this deal will go through, I’ve decided to focus on activities that are nearly invisible to a prospective buyer’s eye. Should the house have to go back up for sale, I want it to look appealing. As such, I’m tackling the closets, drawers, cabinets, and garage shelving first. First up: Going through all of our files. I’m on Day 3 of that exercise. Who knew we had so much stuff! In file-by-file and paper-by-paper, I’m figuring out what we need, what we can scan, what we can recycle, and what must be shredded to protect sensitive information. Almost finished!

A good friend has made prolific use of Internet-based marketplaces to sell things (or give them away). So, my next stop will be a coaching session to get me familiar with options for ridding the house of things I know we will not need. (Some negotiation may need to take place when it comes to garage stuff!) She has offered to help, and I’ll gladly let her keep the proceeds for the sake of paring down my “to do” list.

My husband and I need to take another tour through our closets to make sure we still want the clothes that we have and that they still fit. I see a Goodwill run in my future.

Upon close of escrow, we’ll start tackling the large pieces of furniture and the artwork. A few questions have popped into mind:

  • Do we really need to have a full bedroom set in the guest room given that the drawers are always empty?
  • Do we really need to have desks given that we’re both retired? Could we make do with a simple table, a computer stand, and a filing cabinet?
  • Do we really need a kitchen dinette and a dining room set?
  • Should we keep all the home exercise equipment or move into a place with easy access to a gym or workout room?
  • Do we need to keep all those D.I.Y. supplies given that we rarely D.I.Y. anymore and will likely have access to my nephew’s treasure trove?

Since we have a general idea of the type of place we’ll rent or buy next, we already know that a fair amount of what we currently own just won’t fit. (And we don’t really need it!) Some we’ll try and sell. Some we’ll donate to charity. And some may be of interest to the new homeowner. I’m not concerned about finding new homes. I just need to bake in plenty of time to attend to the mechanics of bidding them all goodbye.

For the most part, I’ve faced this downsizing challenge with aplomb. I’ve shed some tears all the while knowing that selling the house is the right thing to do. I’ve had “déjà vu all over again” as I recall doing this same activity with my parents over the years. It’s a bit jarring to come to terms with the fact that it’s my generation’s turn to pare back on the things we’ve owned and make changes to the lives we’ve led. On the plus side, I anticipate a sense of relief when I’m on the other side, having substantially lightened my load.