How to Downsize From a House to an Apartment

How to Downsize From a House to an Apartment

Two people sitting in new apartment surrounded by boxes

Downsizing from a house to an apartment might seem like a lot, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful move. People downsize for many reasons whether it be finances, retirement, or simply wanting a change of scenery. Whatever the reason, deciding to move from a house into an apartment is a big decision.

But know that it is doable! Of course, there are a few things you can do to make the process run as smoothly as possible.

Furniture and Space

Your apartment will be smaller than your house, that’s a given. But how much smaller? If you’re able, get the exact dimensions and measurements of the space so you just how much you’re downsizing – this will help as you decide whether or not you should take certain furniture pieces. You might not have room for a four-person couch or a dining room table set.

When you’re on the market for apartments, you’ll also have to decide if you want your unit furnished or not. If you absolutely cannot part with some of your furniture (and you’ve ensured that the apartment will be big enough to house it all), maybe unfurnished is the way to go. But if you’re ready to bring in some new pieces, you could look at furnished options!

One hack to save space is multifunctional furniture. There are traditional options like ottomans and stools that might double as storage space or a couch that might double as a bed. But there are also a number of super creative options worth checking out! You’ll likely have to go out and buy these items yourself so multifunctional furniture is also a factor to consider when you’re deciding which type of apartment to rent.

Envision the Apartment

Before you start downsizing a house to an apartment, take some time to ask yourself: what do I want the apartment to look like? What aesthetic am I aiming for, if there is one? Is it the same as my house? Different? Create as clear an image as you can of your new home in your head.

Even if you don’t quite know what your unit will look like at the time you’re starting to plan your packing, you can still begin to formulate a vision of what you want your place to be. There is no shortage of design inspiration online, and even having things as simple as a color palette or unified theme in mind will eventually help you in downsizing.

As you look through your home, determine what works with the vision of your new apartment and what doesn’t. It’s your chance for a new slate!

Additionally, when you do determine which apartment you’ll be moving into, check out their regulations on things like appliances, bicycles, balcony furniture, and so on. If there are rules in place, some of the downsizing might be done for you.

Take Inventory

Since this is more than just a typical move, before you even think about packing, it’s a good idea to take inventory of all your possessions. And yes, we mean all of them.

Make lists. Go through old boxes, especially the ones you haven’t looked in in awhile, and determine everything you have. Discovering you might have more of something than you realized in the middle of the moving process can add to your stress! You can’t know what you should get rid of without knowing what you have first.

Getting Rid of Items

And now, for the inevitable: you’re going to have to get rid of things when you’re downsizing from a house to an apartment. No matter how clever your storage solutions are, it’s not possible to pick up everything in a house and fit it in an apartment.

The first step is to rethink your possessions. Find a good balance between sentimentality and practicality, and don’t be afraid to part with things you think you need but might not. If you haven’t used it in the past year or two, what are the odds that you’ll use it in the ones to come?

This is also where your vision of the apartment comes back into play. If you know what you want your new home to look like you’ll have an easier time getting rid of items.

Ideally, by this step, you’ll know how much space you’ll have in the apartment by now as well. If it won’t fit, it has to go. If your unit is furnished, you won’t have to worry about moving much furniture at all.

What to do with the items you’ve decided to part with? There are a ton of great options depending on your needs and preferences. You could donate to charities, many of which are actually willing to come and pick up the items for you so you don’t have to worry about movers! You could also go the traditional route with garage and yard sales, or sell online with services like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, that are tailored to your area.

Storage Units

If you really don’t want to part with certain things permanently or you’re still figuring out what to do with them at the time of your move, you could also look into getting a storage unit. If you can’t fit everything in your apartment after downsizing, there are always storage options you can rent in addition to your apartment. Also, if your move is temporary or sudden, a storage unit is a good option to hold onto your things in the meantime.

There are multiple options such as movable PODS or stationary self-storage units. If you’re moving a long distance, it would be more helpful to invest in something mobile. If your apartment is nearby self-storage might be worth looking into.


In short, you’ll have a lot to think about, but it’s far from impossible. Prepare yourself to say goodbye to some of your possessions, but allow yourself to be excited for the new beginnings that an apartment will offer as a home!

Samantha attends the University of Northern Colorado as a double major in English and Theatre with minors in Writing and Japanese. In her free time she enjoys creative writing, art, and making music.