Saturday, April 6, 2013

Downsizing, The Logistics and Cost

Whenever one downsizes, certain decisions have to be made. What to take, what to leave, how to get things where you are going-these are just a few of the questions we need to deal with when moving and downsizing. This is true in retirement, or any other time, I expect.

Note: At the bottom you will see that I have shared my moving expense costs in total.

Although I have discussed what to take and what to go, I figured it might be interesting to look at decisions I have made so far, and some of the decisions I may still have to make once I move and actually put  things into my new living space. When I decided to move, I did not now exactly how low I was going in terms of living space, but I was sure it would not be more than thirteen hundred square feet and probably less. I left 2400 square feet where I and my offspring had managed to spread ourselves out quite well-separate rooms for sewing, office work, my book business and guest room. There were also two eating spaces.

When it came to decision making there were a few (sometimes opposing) considerations.
  •  First, my son made it clear that he was uncomfortable driving much more than twenty feet of truck.  He was absolutely right about this in retrospect. A bigger truck would have required a professional driver.
  • While I was downsizing, I was not "changing my lifestyle" specifically. I was already retired and this was not a case of retiring to a resort community, for example. My furniture would fit into my lifestyle.
  • Much of the rest of my lifestyle would remain the same, albeit in a different place. I remain a person who loves being at home and whose hobbies keep her at home, and who entertains at home. I intersperse that with burst of travel both for fun and for my quilting business, and outside entertainment. In other words dishes, Christmas decorations and all my home decor items would fit where I was going.
  • I knew, and still know, that I did not want to keep a storage unit once I moved. Although I have not yet unpacked, what does not fit into my on site storage space or apartment will be gone. Any house or condo purchased later will not be much larger.
  • Finally, there are very few items that would not have cost me more in the long run as if I had sold them.
With those situations in mind, this is what I ended up doing.

  • I went through all the house and cabinets and garage and had a garage sale. This included everything from throw pillows that I had changed out to all odd and unmatched glassware, even some sewing supplies. In truth, it was not that much "stuff" overall. I wanted to keep most of my non furniture things. These were unmatched items, extra small pieces of furniture and so on.
  • Dining and Kitchen area:  MOVED: My pub kitchen table (that has a game table on the bottom side), everything from my kitchen not sold at yard sale (including mixers and three slow cookers and china), and my large china cabinet. Also a small kitchen "sideboard:" with two drawers that could go from kitchen to being even and entry table if needed.  SOLD: My 80 inch butcher block table and wrought iron chairs..  HOWEVER, I plan to buy a new table with leaves that can go from forty inches to seating twelve. Eventual purchase of table and chairs in my budget.
  • Living Room: MOVED: I took my couch (three seat) and love seat portions of my sectional, my table set (coffee, couch and two sides), and main portion of my entertainment stand. SOLD: Two side towers of entertainment stand, and chaise end of sectional, and a ten year old LCD TV that was taking up to ten minutes to come on..  My goal was to be able to come up with any arrangement.  New TV in my budget, but my how TV prices have gone down!
  • Office and Sewing:  MOVED:  My large blue overstuffed chair (the dogs and I love it), all of my bookshelves, my entire sewing set up (two large tables at angle for quilting), and everything in my sewing room and all my books.  SOLD:  my thirteen year old Ikea desk and my son's ladder style Ikea desk. My sewing room (also the guest room it would seem) will be my office and sewing room.
  • Bedrooms:   MOVED:  Son's queen size bed, TV stand and so on. SOLD:  My bedroom set. I had an immense dresser that could not move and rather than selling it separately I sold the set. Major purchase one will be a bed and dresser. I need a really high, really firm bed, so this is not an easy purchase.
  • Other Items:  MOVED:  Many boxes of Christmas decorations, holiday decorations, pottery and decor. In other words, most things on my huge garage shelves. Son's workbench and tools. Leaf blower.  SOLD:  Six year old deep seating patio set and stacking chairs. Most of my plastic pots that were filled with dirt, the hedge cutter and the lawnmower. Large charcoal grill (moving to gas grill here). Washer and dryer (fridge converted with the house). My son's F150 (for a whopping two thousand dollars) because were unwilling to tow it. It's been replaced with a 98 Ford Explorer for basically the same amount.
  • After we packed the storage unit from stem to stern we realized there were a few things left out that would not fit into the car. This was bad planning but there was nothing we could do about it. Most things were of minor issue, but left behind was my good vacuum. My daughter now has a much better vacuum.
  • I had a few items that were a "lighter wood" and these were sold, simply because I decided that moving was a chnace for me to stick exclusively with the dark wood I like. these included a small display shelf in my room a coffee table that raised and lowered and a small display cabinet. These were all in a single room in Germany, where they had worked.

I'm sure that I missed a few things, but you get the idea. We were packed VERY tightly, and in the front seat of the truck went my son's gold clothes, laptop and school stuff and bedding and pillows. The entire back seat of my car was dedicated to canine family members. My trunk had our suitcases, my expensive sewing stuff and other items. We were in fact stuffed to the gills. (and for those who are wondering, my son parked each night with the front of the truck into a pole, or dumpster fence or something and I parked immediately behind him in a "off sides". Any thief would have had to have been a truck parallel driving genius to run off with the thing, and if he could have fit between my car and the locked rear, opening it would have sent him to the hospital).

There are some things that will have to be replaced immediately (my bedroom, some kind of TV, patio furniture and vacuum.). There may be one item that will not fit in my new abode (huge china cabinet, although son says it will fit).  Some things were sold that may be required in a year if I decide to purchase a home or condo (lawnmower, fridge, and washer and dryer).. To store those things for one year, however, made no sense at all, financially or otherwise (I do have both a pantry and  full sized washer and dryer in my new home).

Other people might downsize differently based on location and desire. I don't entertain the way I used to but I'm closer to large numbers of family members so those items make sense for me to save. I have not moved to a resort or park model lifestyle or my choices might have been differently ( I may follow the lead of Linda and others and head south for thee months next year)  I was VERY spread out in my house and many items can be used more compactly with ease, for lack of a better description. All of my living room will fit comfortably in my new living room.  I'll be moving in the middle of May and once everything has been put away (at least furniture and kitchen wise), I'll post photos of how my old items fit in my new space. Onward and forward.

Finally, for those who are interested, the actual costs of my move are shown below. Costs are approximate and based on quicken downloads. I did pay cash for food and a few other items along the way.
  • Two hotel nights in town and three on the road.  I stayed in a hotel on the road two days before I left, because family wanted me to visit them, and because my closing was a day after my buyer's closing. This was because my buyers wanted in immediately after my signing and I would not leave until they had signed. I stayed two nights on the road instead of one because of a snowstorm. The hotel on the road were simple handicapped double queen rooms with view of car and uhaul.  $639.00
  • Food:  During the three days we were on the road we almost exclusively had take out (although one nights take out was from Macaroni grill) because we did not want to leave the dogs very long and the weather was stormy. We used the drive through for food and then stopped at rest stops to walk the dogs for the same reason (normally I pack lots of food, but the only place to store the food would have been near the dogs. sigh). I paid for these items with cash and they aren't figured in, because I used cash - lunches were usually Subway when I could find them, breakfast was at the hotel. On the road dinners were order in pizza, order in macaroni grill  and I don't remember what we got for the third night. The two for macaroni grill (shared appetizer, two entrees, shared dessert( was a great deal).  ????
  • U haul rental.  We rented the Uhaul on Tuesday am, and returned it cross country on Sunday. Again, someone in a different situation might have spent a different amount. $1215.00
  • Gas for the Uhaul and my car. The Uhaul cost close to a hundred dollars to fill. My car has a twenty gallon tank (the plus side is that you don't have to fill it often, but when you fill it, ouch!!!) $521
  • Storage Unit Costs. While I'm not sure these should be included under moving expenses, I'm paying a prorated amount for May and March and  full month for a ten by twenty foot unit for April. That includes full insurance and locks and so on and so forth. Billed to date $249.38
  • Moving help. After some consideration I paid for two people for two hours to unload my truck to the storage unit. We were exhausted, my brother was traveling and it ended up being the best solution. I will probably do the same when I move the stuff again. It took two guys just over ONE hour so I gave no tip this time around. $98.95
  • Still to be figured in, I suppose will be the cost of moving said furniture to my new home.
So there you have it, a brief after report of my moving logistics...what I did, why and how I did it, and how much it costs.  And now, back to our regular scheduled programming. This weekend in retirement includes a drive to the mountains, a nephew's birthday, sewing, and a new deviled short rib recipe.

Happy Weekend!


  1. You have it all together with no bones about your lifestyle requirements. Well done. I, too, enjoy home things. After so many years of being out of the house all day I want to spend my time being where I am most comfortable. I do go out and about and spend serious time doing other things but I can't wait to get home after a certain amount of time has passed. Enjoy!

    1. Yes, Jeanne I do like being home. And downsizing this way means that when I do travel, I dont have to worry about maintenance and such-just care for my dogs.

  2. Thank you so much for the info! I am not planning on moving soon, but since I lived in Denver long ago, I love vicariously enjoying your trip. It helps me a lot, especially as I downsize myself, to hear your logic concerning what items you save & what you remove. I also am close to family, so keep extras/duplicates of items for those times. I also try to cook in batches so I don't do it every day & reading how you do it is good.

    Enjoy Denver!


    1. Thanks Pamela. I still think there may be some adustments to be made overall re stuff that fits, but Im glad I downsized a certain amount before packing and moving.

  3. All good sensible stuff. I particularly liked the way you parked the truck ... very clever!

    1. Tom, Yea, well it was that or get a door alarm, so I had to be creative.

  4. Barb I love your blog and am so excited to hear about all of your downsizing adventures! I am 8 or 9 years away from retirement but thinking ahead. I still have kids at home, a full time job, volunteer commitments, etc. so am home WAAAAY less than I would like to be and that is one of the things (along with many others, including travel) that I look forward to. I am also a big believer in living both "richly" and frugally, and you are an inspiration!



  5. Tess, thanks so much. Life is an adventure and an experiment

  6. Love your posts Barb. We down sized last year but only one town away form the old big house. This year, My husband is finally selling our business and we are on the way to real retirement.Like you,I love to be at home a LOT. Here in Az. homes and patios are a lot like resorts, even the smaller properties,so why not just be on vacation right at home,a lot of the time? Yesterday I cooked all morning ( a hobby) in my nice roomy kitchen,made some bread, sat on patio couch with a book and read for about 2 hours, enjoyed the hot tub with my husband, went for a bike ride in the neighborhood then watched some old Fringe reruns on netflix.Early bed,I was tired from doing lots of housework yesterday!!

    A lot of my friends still like to go OUT for happy hours, Starbucks, etc. I like LUNCH DATES on my patio with my own home cooked food, cheap home brewed coffee , also outdoors when we can, and happy hours around the breakfast bar at home, with some Trader Joe bargains.

    Home is where the heart is!

    We do go out and hike , to the library,etc. but I think a lot of folks are "under -using" their very own homes! A treasure trove of..pleasure! Good luck in finding your next perfect abode!

  7. Well, I hate housework, I have to say, lol. but other than that, yes, my days are primarily at home. I go out perhaps btwo times in the eving and most of Saturday when I am home, and once during the week during the day when it comes to social activitiy. Other than that I am walking the dogs, reading, relaxing, sewing stufff to sell or doign other things around thehouse...

  8. You make downsizing seem like an easy thing to do. I think that Harvey and I will be downsizing in the coming year. Just not sure where or how.

    God bless.


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