Whether you are an empty nester moving to a smaller place to enjoy your retirement, or swapping the suburbs or acreage for inner city living, downsizing can be done at many different stages of life. But when the time comes, there are a number of things you should consider before making the move.

If you currently live with plenty of space, the idea of downsizing might be a bit daunting at first. But having less space doesn’t have to mean minimising how you live. Instead you just need to get smarter about how you use your space to get the very most out of it.

Here are five things you should know about downsizing before you make the move:

You will probably need to condense what you own

If you’re a downsizer moving from a big place, you will likely need to part with some of your belongings to fit the smaller space. Before you make the move, go through everything you own, and cull down to what you really need. Just remember: owning more things doesn’t necessarily equal happiness. In fact, plenty of research has found quite the opposite. For sentimental items, think about if there’s a way you can maintain the memory in a more space-efficient way, such as digitising old photo albums. Just don’t leave the process until too soon before you move. Ensure enough time so you can think about everything and make decisions you feel comfortable with. 

You will probably have more time and money

It goes without saying that a smaller place will presumably cost you less in rent or mortgage repayments, and proceeds from your previous sale could even completely cover your new place, but there are also other savings to be found. A smaller place will require much less energy expenditure, which is great for both your bills and the environment. The other thing you’ll gain much more of? Time. Cleaning and maintaining a smaller place will take you a fraction of the time, particularly if you’ve swapped a big backyard for a courtyard or community garden.

You can find ways to get smart about your space

You can get a lot out of a small space if you’re clever about it. Shops like IKEA, Howards Storage World, and even Kmart and Target offer ample clever storage solutions, so you can fit more into small areas. Use vertical space by hanging things from walls and ceilings to free up more floor space, and make the most of untapped spots like behind doors and empty corners. And instead of thinking about what you need to get rid of, think about smarter options. Like a stick vacuum takes up significantly less space than a traditional vacuum, and it can easily be stored in a small space out of sight. 

Less can actually mean more

When you’re downsizing, what you gain may very well far outweigh any space you lose. With less overheads and more time on your hands, you can choose to live your life exactly how you wish. Instead of spending more time cleaning the house, you will free up time to enjoy the facilities at your new home, perhaps a pool, library or recreation space. Gardening may no longer mean hours spent pruning, weeding or mowing the lawn, but instead, you may be able to get involved in the community garden and grow produce for ultimate paddock to plate cooking at home. And with more money in your pocket, you could indulge in some new hobbies, or take more trips away to relax or explore somewhere new