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How to pack when downsizing

author avatar Written by Aaron Steed

Whether your kids are finally all moved out, or you’re tired of maintaining a large home; there are many different reasons why you may be planning or considering downsizing your home. Whatever your reasons may be, downsizing your home could be incredibly refreshing. Oftentimes we buy more than we need or we forget about what we buy and it all just starts piling up. An immense amount of clutter can cause not only our homes to be a little hectic but our mentality can also be affected by it too.

Given that there are endless reasons why downsizing can be beneficial, we created a step by step process to help guide you through how to pack when downsizing. Additionally, this guide also includes packing tips on how to keep your valuables safe, and recommendations for seniors moving who are looking to downsize.

Let’s dive in.

Gather the right moving supplies

You’ve worked extremely hard for all your possessions. It would be unfortunate if some of your belongings became damaged from improper storage. Gathering the right moving supplies is critical to keeping your possessions safe and secure. Everything you own has its own unique shape, size, and weight. You wouldn’t want to pack your clothes in the same kind of box you’d pack your glassware in. Moving can already be expensive but investing a little more in specific boxes, high quality tape, packing paper and bubble wrap can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Start early and pace yourself 

Moving in general can already be stressful, that’s why it’s a great idea to start early and pace yourself.

  1. Schedule things out. Designate certain days and include time blocks for when you’re going to start packing. Packing isn’t going to take just one day so specify each calendar input with a detailed note for what it is you’re going to pack. For instance, Mondays will be for the kitchen, Tuesdays will be for the bathrooms, and so on.
  2. Set reminders. Using a calendar app on your phone or setting reminders using post it notes are a great way to stay on track. Set reminders not only for packing days but for ‘due dates’ on when things should be done, that way you don’t fall behind. You can even have a countdown for your move out date so you constantly have a sense of urgency to get things done on time.
  3. Pace yourself. Try not to do everything all at once. If you try to pack everything all at once you can easily become overwhelmed and discouraged. Previously noted, packing room by room can help you stay organized and feel successful after one room is done. That’ll help keep your momentum up and make packing a breeze.

Unpack and then pack

When it comes to downsizing, you have to constantly keep the size of your new home in the front of your mind. That means you cannot try to pack everything you currently own and move it into your new downsized home…Not everything is going to fit! So before you start packing, unpack your home. What does that mean? It’s time to declutter!

Again, do this room by room so you do not become overwhelmed. Holding onto things we don’t need is one of our many vices… here are some questions you want to ask yourself when you become conflicted about whether or not you should keep something:

  1. Have I used this in the past 3 months?
  2. Is this item sentimental?
  3. How often will you use it?
  4. Does this item still make you happy?
  5. Does it fit into your new home?
  6. Does it still work?
  7. If I don’t want this item, would a friend or family want this item?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you should keep it. If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you should consider tossing it, donating it, selling it, or recycling it.

While sorting through your items and deciding whether or not to keep it, create three separate piles and label each pile on a piece of paper, ‘KEEP,’ ‘TOSS,’ ‘SELL/DONATE’. That way things don’t get mixed up and you don’t have to restart the entire process. Stay disciplined and remind yourself, getting rid of insignificant items will only benefit you.

Let’s get to packing now

After you’re done sorting through what you want to keep, toss, sell and donate, you can finally start packing your belongings. When downsizing, you’re definitely going to want to start packing your valuable items first. Refrain from throwing your valuable items into the moving truck and keep items such as important documents, jewelry, prescribed medications, hand held devices (laptops, tablets) with you so they don’t get lost in the mix. Here are some helpful tips on how to pack valuable items:

  1. Paperwork & important documents. Put all your important paperwork such as personal documents, car titles, medical records, check books and so on in an accordion file. That way it’s neatly organized and at your fingertips once you move into your new home.
  2. Jewelry. Store your jewelry in a specifically designed jewelry box. Another option is to wrap each jewelry piece up in tissue paper, tape the ends, lay bubble wrap inside all walls of the box, and insert your items.
  3. Framed photos or art. Wrap and layer your frames with plenty of bubble wrap and wrapping paper. Use designated boxes for each frame to reduce the risk of breakage.
  4. Electronics. Televisions, sound systems, monitors, and other electronics are delicate and high priced. If possible, pack them in their original boxes. If not, in addition to bubble wrapping these items, consider using styrofoam corner protectors to help secure items such as your TV (styrofoam corner protectors can be found at your nearest hardware stores).
  5. Glassware. Bubble wrap and packing paper is great but cell kits are ideal for packing dishes, glasses, plates, bowls, and other glassware items.
  6. Miscellaneous. Other valuable items that are fragile and awkwardly shaped should be given special attention since they’re not always the easiest to pack. Make sure you take extra precaution and find the right storage tailored to that item.

Importantly, when packing fragile items make sure you label ‘FRAGILE’ on all sides of the boxes and in large print. Double, triple, and even quadruple tape the box to ensure extra protection. Also, don’t forget to label as you go…this will also help moving in and unpacking a lot easier. Or, better yet, leave it to the packing experts and call us!

Senior moving assistance

If you’re a senior and are downsizing your home, you want to make sure you’re packing and moving safely. Don’t take on more than you can handle and know when to ask for help. Afterall, what are your kids and grandkids for? You can surely eliminate a step from your packing process to the donation center or local dumpster since your trash could be your children or grandchildren’s treasure. Instead of giving them the item right away, use it as a prize for their assistance.

After you’re all packed up, Meathead Movers provides professional senior moving services that guarantees a stress-free move. We provide the utmost care and concern for seniors and their belongings.


Packing when downsizing can be an overwhelming process, however, if you follow this guide you’ll find it to be a lot easier than you thought. Remember to start early, pace yourself, stay organized, and pay extra attention to packing your valuables and fragile items.

Decluttering can be therapeutic and refreshing so why not make it a routine after you’ve moved into your new home. Making decluttering a bi-monthly routine or whatever fits your schedule can help you maintain a neat and tidy home. Before you buy something, be mindful and consider where you may store it or if you have room for it can surely help you be clutter-free.

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