The upside of downsizing

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Whether you need to cut housing costs or just don’t like rattling around an empty nest, downsizing makes sense for many retirees. After all, your home may be your biggest source of equity, but it’s also probably your biggest expense. “Keeping a home, even if it’s paid off, can be exhausting and costly,” says Moreen Torpy, owner of the De-Clutter Coach, who is an expert in moving and downsizing. However, if you’re going from a 3,000-square-foot home to a 1,200-square-foot condo, you’ll need to part with some of your possessions before you go. Torpy and Sara Boehm, the author of The Essential Moving Guide for Families, say it’s fairly easy to get rid of furniture, clothing, and knickknacks, which will mean more space and extra income. 

Before you sell a single teacup, decide what you want to bring along to your new digs and evaluate what will fit. Once you know what has to go, give family and friends the option to take unwanted heirlooms or furniture that has sentimental value—the stuff you don’t want to sell. Then it’s time to start purging (and making money).

Here’s where to start:

  • Furniture
    Garage sales can be more annoying than anything else, says Torpy, because shoppers often want something for nothing. You may have better luck getting the price you want via local selling sites, like or Make the process easier on yourself and stipulate in your ad that buyers are responsible for picking up their purchases. 
  • Clothing
    Local consignment stores are a good place to start, but commission fees can range from 25 to 60 percent. Instead, consider one of the dozens of online sites that let you sell clothing on your own—or will do it for you. Hands-off options include and You’ll give up a percentage of the sale (like you would with a consignment shop), but they do much of the work, including setting up the listing and handling the shipping. 
  • Antiques and artwork
    Auction houses and estate liquidators are great options for your high-ticket, desirable items, such as furniture and collectible figurines. Before handing everything over, however, Torpy suggests getting a professional appraisal so you have a baseline value that can guarantee you’re getting a fair selling price. 
  • Housewares
    Fine china and silver can find a new home via, a site that allows buyers to search by pattern and manufacturer. eBay also has a strong market for anything vintage or unusual. 
  • Books
    Start at, which lets you enter a book’s ISBN number to see how much various online sites will pay for it. Rare or antique books may find a buyer in your local independent bookstore. You can also list them on or
  • And one more word of advice
    “For sentimental reasons, take photos of anything you no longer need but want to remember,” says Boehm. “It makes it easier to get rid of things when you have something to look back on.”


The opinions expressed in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult with your attorney, accountant, and financial advisor or tax advisor prior to investing.