Downsizing, whether by choice or necessity, is a common occurrence for people in mid-life and beyond. Many people feel the urge to live more simply and care for less. Others no longer need the big houses where they once raised families.

For some downsizing becomes necessary because of a move to a different and perhaps warmer climate or is brought by the desire to live nearer to children and grandchildren.

Some people want to wander the globe and can do so more easily without the burden of stuff left behind. Others can no longer afford the lifestyle they once had now that they are living on a fixed income.

Whatever your reasons for downsizing, if you have been through the experience, you have come out on the other side changed. Downsizing can be difficult, but also liberating.

What happens after you downsize? What are the benefits of downsizing? How can the disciplined pursuit of less change you?

You Will Live According to Your Values

The first step in downsizing is making a decision of where you will go. This requires you to think about what you want, what you can afford, and what would be meaningful to you.

How do you want to live now? It is an important question, and if you clarify your values as you make decisions, you will be aligning your life with your values. Living according to your values is a positive thing.

When you downsize, you are also forced to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. It isn’t always an easy decision, but if you learn to choose things according to your values, you will keep what is important to you. The result is that you live with things that make you happy.

You Have Less Stress

Too many possessions often result in clutter, and clutter often results in stress. Our things can be a reminder of debt, bad choices, or unfulfilled projects. They can be reminders of obligations – like the need to hang onto Aunt Mary’s China set even though you don’t like it and have never used it.

We tend to hang onto things that remind us of happy events and people we love, but we also hang onto things that are a burden emotionally, such as the photos from a wedding that ended in divorce, or drawers full of items gifted to us by long-dead relatives.

Letting go of the things that burden us can be emotionally freeing. Looking at unfulfilled projects nags at us, which is stressful. Letting go of the to-do list of things that you no longer want to do eliminates stress.

You Have Less to Take Care of

If you love dusting, polishing, and cleaning, this won’t apply to you, but the fewer things you have, the less you have to store, clean, organize, and take care of. Instead of spending time managing and cleaning your belongings, you can do other things that you enjoy.

You may also find that you don’t miss the excess. Many people say that it is easier to get dressed when they have closets that are well edited. We tend to regularly wear only a small portion of the clothes we own.

Capsule wardrobes have become popular because a closet with fewer clothes means that your choices are more likely to be well-fitting and in good repair. It is entirely possible to be exceptionally well dressed with good, classic, basic items and colorful accessories to add interest and variation.

Others notice that they enjoy their possessions more when there are fewer but more meaningful objects in their surroundings.

A handful of picture frames on a shelf attracts our attention to the pictures inside. On the other hand, 40 pictures on the shelf makes us notice the excess rather than the special photos.

You Feel Good Knowing You Have Helped Others

While downsizing, your possessions went somewhere. Think of the excess clothing you gave to the thrift shop. Now it’s being worn by someone else who needs it more than you did.

Think of the household goods that are now in a young couple’s first home, or a college student’s apartment. Maybe Grandma’s needlework now hangs on the wall in your daughter’s home or Grandpa’s desk is now in your grandson’s office.

If you were ever the grateful recipient of secondhand goods, then you know the value they can have. Every day, people buy things in thrift stores, antique stores, and resale shops that add value to their lives and their homes.

Unless you tossed everything in a dumpster, chances are someone else is now enjoying things you once enjoyed.

You Save Money

A smaller home is usually cheaper. If you own a home, you may be able to use the equity to buy a smaller one outright. Unless you move to an area with a higher cost of living, you will likely save money in taxes, which can be a substantial savings.

If you rent, moving to a smaller house or apartment will likely result in lower rent costs. In either case, you will save money in utilities and maintenance costs. Fewer expenses means more money for things like health care, leisure, or traveling.

You Have a Chance to Start Over

As you built your family and career, you often made choices because you needed to. Perhaps you moved to a particular area for a job and ended up living there for years.

You may have needed a bigger space for your children, and their space requirements – and even the school district you lived in – dictated your choices. You may have added on a mother-in-law suite so that you could care for a family member.

It is likely that, for many years, the needs of others came first. At this stage of life, it is more likely that you make your decisions based on your needs. You make choices in downsizing that allow you a fresh start.

That fresh start in your physical space also opens you up for a fresh start in other areas of your life. You may have the time and opportunity to explore a new area or meet new people. As a result, you might take up a new hobby or join a new book club.

There is no doubt that downsizing can be emotionally charged. However, if you think of it as an opportunity to create your life in a way that serves you now, you will likely be happy in your new surroundings.

How has downsizing changed you? What do you do to continue living in a way that combats clutter? What benefits of downsizing do you see in your life? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section below.

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