How to Downsize Your Home: Going From Owning to Renting

Are you thinking about downsizing your home? Whether you’re an empty nester looking for a more manageable lifestyle or starting a family and seeking a change, transitioning from owning a house to renting an apartment can offer a ton of benefits. In this guide, we’ll answer the question of how to downsize your home, from decluttering and preparing for the move to finding the perfect apartment and making it feel like home.

Know your why: understanding the motivation behind downsizing

Before setting off on the downsizing journey, it’s important to understand why you want to make this change. There are plenty of reasons why homeowners choose to downsize, like retiring, embracing a minimalist lifestyle, saving money or moving to a smaller house in a new city. By keeping your motivation in mind, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the challenges that come with figuring out how to downsize your home.

Embracing the positives of downsizing

Downsizing your home doesn’t have to be viewed as a loss. Instead, focus on the positives that come with this transition. Consider the financial benefits, like lower mortgage payments, property taxes and maintenance costs. Downsizing can also offer newfound freedom and flexibility, allowing you to pursue other interests and experiences. By shifting your mindset and embracing the advantages, you’ll be more prepared to downsize successfully.

Planning the move in advance

To make the moving process easier, make sure downsizing your belongings ahead of time is on your to do list. This includes not only getting rid of unnecessary items but also evaluating your furniture and larger possessions. Determine what will fit into your new apartment and what you can live without. By downsizing your stuff before the move, you’ll have a clearer idea of what to expect and can make the transition to a smaller area more seamless by finding ways to save space while you save money.

Buying vs. renting: determining the best option for you

Once you’ve decluttered and prepared for the move, it’s essential to decide whether buying or renting an apartment is the right choice for you. Owning a home offers long-term stability, but it also comes with additional costs like mortgages, insurance and maintenance. On the other hand, renting provides flexibility and fewer responsibilities. Consider your financial situation, lifestyle preferences, and long-term plans to make an informed decision.

Hidden costs

When downsizing from a house to an apartment, it’s crucial to be aware of the hidden costs that might not be immediately apparent. Moving expenses, like hiring movers, purchasing packing supplies and potentially paying for a storage unit, can add up quickly.

While the apartment’s rent might seem more affordable compared to a mortgage, you have to consider the security deposit, pet fees, parking fees and any amenity fees that apartments often charge for extras like a personal on-site storage unit. These costs can significantly impact your budget, making it important to thoroughly research and factor these expenses into your financial planning.

If your new apartment requires any furnishings or renovations to make the space work for you, these are additional costs that need to be considered ahead of the move.

Utility bills

Utility bills in an apartment can differ significantly from those in a house, often leading to significant savings. Apartments typically have small rooms and less square footage than houses, which can result in lower heating and cooling costs. Many apartments offer utilities included in the rent, like water and trash services, which can simplify monthly budgeting and potentially save money.

It’s important to understand exactly what utilities are covered and what you’re responsible for paying. Some buildings may have less efficient HVAC systems or lack individual unit controls, leading to higher electricity or gas bills than expected. Researching and asking for average utility costs from the apartment management can provide a clearer picture of your monthly expenses.

downsize your home and have more room to dance

Finding the perfect apartment

When searching for an apartment, it’s important to consider your specific requirements and preferences. Think about the location, amenities and size that will best suit your needs. If outdoor spaces or certain amenities are essential to you, prioritize only those things first in your search.

Consider potential future needs, like extra storage space, square footage for expanding your family or large windows for natural light. By carefully evaluating these factors, you’ll find an apartment that aligns with your downsizing goals.

Multipurpose rooms

Adapting to small rooms when moving from a house to an apartment requires creative use of space, making a multipurpose room not just a great idea, but often a necessity. A living room or guest room can double as a home office or a dining area with the right furniture and layout.

Investing in versatile furniture pieces, like a sofa bed, floating shelves, extendable dining tables or a functional storage unit, can maximize versatility without sacrificing style or comfort. Using room dividers or open shelving units for storage areas can help delineate spaces for different uses while keeping the apartment feeling open and airy. The key is to prioritize what functions are most important and design the new space around those needs, ensuring that every inch of your apartment works hard for your lifestyle.

Reviewing lease agreements and moving in

Before finalizing the lease agreement, thoroughly review all the terms and conditions. Pay attention to the rent price, security deposit, utilities and any maintenance policies.

Ensure that everything is as agreed upon and ask any necessary questions. Once you’re ready to move into your current home, you may choose to hire professional movers or handle the move yourself. Whichever option you choose, make sure you’re well-prepared and organized for a smooth transition.

how to downsize your home -- multipurpose rooms

Making your apartment feel like home

Once you’ve moved into your new apartment, it’s time to make it feel like home. Furnishing and decorating a smaller space requires careful consideration. Focus on selecting furniture that fits the apartment’s dimensions and serves multiple purposes in one room. Measure the rooms and furniture to ensure a proper fit. Personalize your space with colors, textures and accessories that reflect your style and create a warm and inviting atmosphere.


Decluttering is a critical step in downsizing from a house to an apartment. It involves carefully evaluating your possessions to decide what truly adds value to your life. Luckily, it also results in less stuff and, often, extra cash. This process not only makes the move easier and potentially cheaper but also helps in adapting to a smaller home.

Start by categorizing items into what to keep, sell at a garage sale, donate, get rid of or discard. Be realistic about the space limitations of your new apartment and prioritize items that are necessary or hold significant emotional value. Decluttering can be an emotional process, but a yard sale also offers an opportunity to refresh and simplify your lifestyle, making your new apartment feel spacious and organized.

Professional organizers

Hiring a professional organizer can be a worthwhile investment when downsizing to an apartment. These experts can offer invaluable advice and tips on how to efficiently use your new, smaller space, suggest ways to reduce clutter, and help you decide what to keep, donate or dispose of. They can also assist with the physical aspects of decluttering and organizing before the move, making the transition to a smaller home smoother and less stressful.

While the cost of hiring a professional organizer may seem like an unnecessary additional expense, their expertise can save you time and money in the long run by helping you avoid mistakes and make the most out of your new living situation. Their services can be particularly beneficial for those who are overwhelmed by the downsizing process or unsure where to start.

how to downsize your home - hang shelves for storing books

Embracing a minimalist lifestyle

Downsizing your home provides an opportunity to embrace a minimalist lifestyle. Prioritize what truly matters to you and let go of excess possessions. Adopting minimalist principles will not only help you maintain a clutter-free environment but also promote a sense of peace and simplicity. By using storage spaces, focusing on quality over quantity and reducing material possessions, you can create a space that feels spacious and organized.

Managing the transition and settling in

Transitioning from owning a house to renting an apartment may come with some emotional challenges. It’s important to be patient with yourself and allow time to adjust to the new space.

Take advantage of the amenities and community offered by your apartment complex to connect with neighbors and feel a sense of belonging. As you settle into your new, smaller home together, you’ll discover the benefits of downsizing and enjoy the freedom it brings.

You can live large with fewer square feet

Downsizing to a smaller home can be a transformative experience. By understanding your motivation, decluttering your belongings and carefully considering your options for your new small space, you can successfully navigate this transition.

Embrace the positives of downsizing, find the perfect apartment and create a space that reflects your style and values. With the right mindset and preparation, downsizing can lead to a simpler, more fulfilling lifestyle.

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