After years of living in a large home filled to the brim with furniture, old clothes, knick-knacks and more, you’re ready to downsize to a simple but still tasteful life. When the five-bedroom colonial in the suburbs becomes a three-bedroom bungalow near the beach, rethinking your true needs becomes the top priority.

When you search for your new real estate think carefully about your plans and likely future. Will you prefer a first-floor master bedroom and vinyl siding for easy living and maintenance? Is gardening a passion or perhaps woodworking? Does proximity to friends and family matter a little bit or a lot? What about weather and access to area amenities such as a college or university, the library and local shops? Knowing the answers to these questions in advance makes finding a new home easier.

As you pack and move you will likely come across long-forgotten photos, furniture and other bric-a-brac that you may not want but your children would adore. If you’re ready for a change in decoration use catalogs and magazines as inspiration – and although you may wish to purchase a piece or two you probably can design an entirely new look with the items you already own plus a little fresh paint (plus, new items don’t have the patina of fond memories).

Contact local thrift stores and shelters before you discard old belongings as they may appreciate your donations. Tag sales are another possibility, and if you don’t want to do it yourself you can hire a professional who takes a cut from the earnings. You can also place ads on Craigslist and eBay and in your local newspaper.

Get busy simplifying and soon you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do it earlier – and your much-loved possessions will enjoy second lives of their own.

Find a Real Estate Agent who can help you make a transition or search our home listings.