Are You Ready to Try a ‘Downsizing Trial Run’?

Are You Ready to Try a 'Downsizing Trial Run'? | Horizon line and sky. Miniature, scale, downsize, mortgage payment, big yard, tiny, small-Downsizing Trial Run | Featured

Have you been thinking about moving to a smaller place but haven't because you're not sure if you would like it in the long term? Why not try a Downsizing Trial Run first?

RELATED: 16 Tips to Keep You Moving Forward With the Home Downsizing Process

What Exactly Is a Downsizing Trial Run?

Off grid tiny house in the mountains | What Exactly Is a Downsizing Trial Run?

The basic idea is to live in your current home for a set amount of time as if your current home is the size of a smaller home and has the same number and variety of rooms you would have in a smaller home.

The key is to make it as realistic as possible. The more realistic you make it, the more you will be able to know if you are ready to downsize or not.

While it may seem like a crazy idea at first, it's not as off the wall as you may think. When you think of the costs involved in physically moving to another place, a Downsizing Trial Run can make perfect sense.

It can be done without spending any money (or very little), you can back out at any time and it's fairly easy to do.

When you weigh that against the cost, time, effort, and stress involved in an actual physical move, this test run sounds better all the time. Who knows, you might even have fun!

While the layout of a smaller place will likely be different from what you have now, you can still get a good idea of what a downsized space would be like with a little imagination.

The trial run can be done with as little or as much realism as you choose. It's up to you to decide, but remember, the objective is to live in a smaller space to know if you are ready, so the more realistic you can make it, the better.

The amount of time you actually live the trial run will make all the difference as well. I suggest you live it for at least one month.

Anything less might feel more like a game or vacation of sorts and remember, you want to get a true feel for what a smaller home would be like. However, if you feel 1 month is too long or short, pick a length of time that will work for your situation. You can always adjust the time as you go along.


To help you get a feel for what it would entail, I've put together a scenario for you to run through. As each person and situation were unique, you may find additional or different ideas that would work best for your situation.


You are an Empty Nest couple currently live in a 2,400 square foot detached home with 4 bedrooms, a den/office, 2.5 baths, main floor living room, dining room, family room, kitchen with dinette area, mud/laundry room, full basement, 2 car garage and a garden shed.

You are thinking about downsizing to a condo apartment that is approximately 1,200 square feet. The condo you have looked at has 2 bedrooms, a small den/office, 2 baths, a living room, a kitchen, an open eating area, 2 parking spots, and a 10×10 storage locker. To keep things simple, we'll assume that each room is used as named.

This scenario represents a 50% reduction in above-ground living space. If you factor in the basement, the reduction in available living space is even more.


    • Depending on how realistic you want the trial run to be and how serious you are about downsizing, you might want to actually downsize your possessions before (and during) your trial run begins. If actually downsizing your possessions is too big of a step for you right now, you may want to mark some of your items as off-limits during the trial run. For example, you may decide that you won't need your good china when you downsize to a condo so that would be marked as off-limits during the trial run.
    • Determine if you need to move items from any of the rooms and places that will be off-limits during the length of the trial run so you can have access to the items without entering the off-limits space.
    • Yellow caution tape or decorative rope along with ‘do not enter' signs provide an easy way to identify rooms, storage, space, and possessions that will be off-limits during the trial run.

ROOMS — using the scenario above, you will need to live as if you have the rooms and space of the smaller place. For example:

    • Bedrooms – you'll be down 2 in the new place, so put up a ‘do not enter sign' on two of your current bedrooms.
    • Bathrooms — you won't have a powder room at the new place, so it gets a ‘do not enter sign too.
    • Living Room / Family Room — you'll have one common room at the condo so choose either your living room or family room as being off-limits at your current place.
    • Dinette / Dining Room — the condo utilizes one space to do both. You will need to decide whether your trial run will use your dining room or dinette for a place to eat.
    • Kitchen — the kitchen at the condo is much smaller. If you really want to make the trial as realistic as possible, live with approximately 30-40% less cupboard space (particularly if you have lots of cupboard space today). Also, remember that you no longer have a dinette area at the condo but it does have a breakfast bar.
    • Den / Office — you lucked out as the den at your current place is roughly the same size as the condo den so no change is needed here.
    • Mud / Laundry Room — there is no mudroom at the condo and the laundry room is now a laundry closet without a laundry sink. Try to utilize your current mud/laundry room with this in mind.
    • Garage — I understand that de-cluttering and organizing a garage is a big job at the best of times, so for the trial run, just pretend that you don't have storage space in your garage.
    • Basement — you definitely don't have a basement at the condo so it's off-limits too.
    • Garden Shed — although you won't have one of these at the condo, it's understandable you may need to use what is inside at your current home during the trial depending on the time of year.

CLOSETS and CUPBOARDS -you will have fewer closets/cupboards in the condo and they are smaller. Look to either combine existing items into fewer closets/cupboards or use (or mark off) ½ the width of each closet/cupboard you have to give you a good sense of storage space.

ROOM SIZE – Each room in your condo will be smaller than the equivalent room in your current home. To emulate that without major work, one suggestion is to physically move the furniture in each of the rooms so they take up less space.

For example, if the current family room is 16 x 20, move your furniture in the family room so it takes up a smaller footprint, perhaps 13×15.


Congratulations, your home is now set up to emulate living in a smaller footprint and with that, the Downsizing Trial Run can begin.

As you go through the trial, there will likely be times when you wonder what you were thinking when you decided to do it. You may laugh, you may get frustrated, and you may wonder if you will ever be able to live in a smaller place. But that's exactly what the test is for. It lets you ‘live' the scenario.

Whether you decide to stay in place or move to a smaller place, you have at least tested out the waters before making a huge commitment in terms of time, money, and emotion. You will have made your decision based on reality (well, as close as we can get without actually moving) and not on an impulse decision.

Well, what do you think? Are you ready to try it out?

I hope you have found this article helpful and I would love to hear if you decided to try a ‘Downsizing Trial Run' and how you made it out.

‘Til next time

Love Your Life, Not Your Stuff©


For more tips, to receive my FREE e-Book “I'm Downsizing, Now What?”, or to speak with me about your downsizing situation, please feel free to contact me at You can also find me on Twitter (@beingorg101) and Facebook (BeingOrganized101).

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