Tips to Downsize When the Kids Go Off to College

You’ve done it! You’ve ushered your children through their formative years and now they’ve flown the coop. As you sit back and take a moment to enjoy the quiet of a kid-less house or take some time to mourn the loss of a significant chapter, try to think forward. For the past 18+ years, your home has been designed to accommodate the needs of the entire family, but now that the kids are gone, your needs are different. If you’ve no idea where to begin, read on for some helpful tips to downsize when the kids go off to college.


Your first step is to commit yourself to downsize and methodically go room to room with a discerning eye; every item is not a keepsake. Outgrown clothing, shoes, and sports equipment can easily be scooped up and donated. Sift through old school papers and projects and decide which ones are worth keeping; now is the time to create special albums or keepsake boxes as you come across memorable items. Put together a box — or boxes — of items that your child will want when they get older and have a place of their own. Items such as their birth certificate, baby book, scrapbooks, photo albums, trophies, and school records are perfect for these boxes.

One of the best tips for empty nesters is to consider what furniture items you no longer need. Perhaps it’s a futon your teen had in their room for sleepovers, or an old bunk bed that hasn’t served a purpose in years. More than likely, your child will only be home for college breaks moving forward, so when you downsize think about whether you need extra dressers, desks, and other utility furniture. Once you’ve decided what can go, decide whether you want to donate the furniture or try to sell it; the plus side of selling means you can roll the money from those bunk beds into something more your taste.


Once you’ve sifted through the residual clutter that comes with having kids at home, it’s time to organize your empty nest. Take advantage of this time — you no longer have kids barging through the door, dropping their gear and asking for something to eat. Now is the time to pull out what’s left after decluttering and go through with a second set of eyes. Maybe some items made it through the first pass, but you now see that they will go unused in your current household — it’s time to let them go.


This is where you begin looking at each room in your home and decide how you’ll set it up to suit your needs — or whether you really need that much space at all. While you may not have been planning it, you may realize that downsizing your home is needed at this point in your life. You’re no longer accommodating a family in your home, and your house will likely just be a pit stop for your children in the future. Perhaps it’s time to consider moving to a smaller home.


Whether you decide to remain in your empty nest family home — or downsize to something smaller — your home could likely use a bit of a refresh. If you’re staying, think about ways to repurpose extra bedrooms — new office, library or hobby room, anyone? If you’re planning on leaving, all of the decluttering and organizing you’ve done will make your home look appealing to potential buyers — just add a new coat of paint and take care of any necessary repairs and you’ll be ready to list.

Above all, whether you choose to list or to stay, take the time to enjoy this new chapter in your life — you’ve earned it!

Guest post by Lauren Stevens

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