Moving from a house to an apartment usually means downsizing your living space.
The median size of a new house built in 2016 in the United States was 2,422 square feet, while the median size of an apartment for sale was 1,706 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (The median for newly built apartment rental was 1,085 square feet, according to the same survey.)
People make such moves to save money or to change their lifestyles. But downsizing has other upsides. For example, many apartment dwellers find they have more time for recreation than they did when living in a house, where weekend chores such as yard work were part of their weekly routines.
Smaller homes will require you to adapt to smaller living and storage spaces. But with a positive attitude, some creative ideas and a realistic assessment of your lifestyle needs, you can still feel at home.
Start planning to downsize while selecting your apartment. Measure the rooms or get floorplans of each so you can determine whether your favorite large furniture items will fit or whether you'll need to buy new furniture. Take measurements of any extra storage areas that are included in your rent; some complexes have separate storage units you can access as part of your lease agreement.
If you’re moving from a house to a condo or apartment, make sure you thoroughly review the rental rules or condominium bylaws to ensure your most important needs are covered. Do you like to throw large gatherings? Learn the complex’s rules regarding such events, including curfews and parking. You may be best served by a building or complex with a large social room or clubhouse that can accommodate crowds. If you have a pet, make certain that the building allows them – and your specific breed of animal.
You may need to acquire rugs, as some apartments and condominiums require that a percentage of floor space be covered by rugs or carpeting to muffle noise. There also may be rules on what items are allowed on your porch or balcony.
Sales, giveaways and throwaways
The best way to reduce clutter at your new home is to not bring it with you. Before your move, review your belongings in each room and decide which items should be sold, given away or thrown away.
Unless your belongings are high-end furnishings, designer clothing and gold or platinum jewelry, the chances of earning back what you paid may be low. Try online sales if you have the time and energy to list and pack your items for shipping. Another option is a yard sale to eliminate unwanted furniture and other large items. Make arrangements with a local charity thrift store to pick up the leftovers.
It's hard to part with sentimental items. Keep what's important to you. If you want to downsize these items, one idea is to save just one or two items from a pile of baby clothes or toys. Take photographs of the rest and put them in a scrapbook.
You can also take photos of larger items of emotional value, such as an older relative’s favorite chair or other furniture, and frame the images for posterity. If you donate the items or give them away, you can feel good that these objects will see continued use.
Your new downsized decor
Moving to a smaller space is an opportunity to refresh your home decor, adding zest and energy to your living space. If you're renting and allowed to paint the walls, try choosing a favorite color that you've always wanted to sample in your living room. You can also reuse a color that you always loved but add a bright burst of a contrasting color in the room in small sections, such as in pillow covers.
Invest in storage solutions
By purchasing several good storage products—such as shelving, containers, hooks, hangers or baskets—you can help prevent clutter from forming. It's ideal to have the storage solutions in place when you move in. Arrange similar items together so you can find what you need. Make your furniture do double duty, if possible, such as sofas that can be used as beds, or an ottoman that offers extra storage.
For clothing, one idea is to fold your cotton and knit items vertically into thirds or fourths and then roll them into balls before putting them in dresser drawers. The end result is a drawer full of shirts, socks or underwear that has every item visible for easy selection.
Feel good about your move
You may enjoy the relocation more if you set aside an area for your hobbies. Set up a table for your jewelry-making, with all your tools and materials close by, or create a nook for your antique book collection. Explore your new neighborhood and all it has to offer.
Downsizing from a house to a condo or apartment has many upsides just waiting to be discovered. In the time-consuming process of moving and reducing the amount of stuff you own, focusing on the positive aspects will help you navigate the move with grace. See it as an opportunity to reorder your living space to better suit your lifestyle.
You’ll have many tasks to complete as you make your move. That includes having insurance coverage. Nationwide renters insurance or condo insurance can ensure you’re protecting your belongings in your new home.