5 Steps That Helped Me Downsize From a Full House to a Studio Apartment

Written by Rebecca Plasters

“Let’s do this!” I told myself.  It can’t be that hard….  So yeah, downsize to 350 sq feet and move 2300 miles cross country.  

My 1200 sq ft house was fairly full but tidy.  I had moved from a 3000 sq ft place, so I thought I was doing pretty good.  And yeah, there was the 6000 sq ft barn and the 160 sq ft storage shed that were pretty full.  But I had a few months to get ready and was only working about 20 hours a week at the time.  Optimistic, I am.

Several strategies were helpful as I minimized to make the move.  Here are a few:

1. Mindset

Being a minimalist was already my adopted identity, and I had been working toward it for about a year.  Rachel from Nourishing Minimalism and others were helping me make big changes.  So I was already in the right frame of mind to tackle this.  It was exciting, I was moving to live near my daughter, and the little studio apartment was waiting for me.

2. Decide What to Keep

Instead of going through rooms and closets looking for what to part with, I chose my few very favorite items from each category to keep.  The rest had to go. 

My favorite storage bins are 44 qt, 16”x20’ and about 11” tall.  They’re not too big to carry and latch well.  I have quite a few of them so assigned each bin to a category and only kept what would fit inside.  This helped me to narrow down what I’d be bringing.

For example:

The bathroom bin contained 4 towels, 4 washcloths, waterpik, an electric toothbrush, and my Norwex cloths and mop heads. 

The bedroom bin contained two sets of sheets, a mattress pad, a coverlet, and a small bedside lamp. I did also pack a large trash bag with my down comforter and favorite pillows. 

The electronics bin included a DVD player and my favorite DVDs (I know, I’m old) along with a few extra cords, surge protectors, external hard drive, and remotes.  I did also bring one TV and one computer (gave away a couple of extras I had).  

3. Donate

I didn’t try to sell anything.  Broken and worn-out items went in the trash or recycling.  Then I took pictures of items to give away and texted the pics to local family and friends.  They came to pick things up.  Whatever they didn’t want, I brought to my local thrift store or other charity spots.  I had to hunt around to find places to donate a few things (think old trophies).  I took at least a load a week for about 3 months to these places.

4. Free Garage Sale

Furniture, lawnmowers, wheelbarrows, tools, and other large items are just too big for my car.  So whatever family and friends didn’t want I gave away via FB Marketplace.  I posted pics of larger items as “Free.”  I set up my barn with tarps and tables and put smaller items out there.  Whenever someone would come to pick up a bed, picnic table, shelving unit, or other large item, I’d have them look around the barn and take whatever else they wanted.  Some came back for multiple loads!

5. No Consumables

I used up all of the cleaning and toiletry items that I could.  My sister and some friends took the rest.  I made a WalMart run after I got to my new home for some basics (TP, dish soap, etc.) then I buy other items only when I need them.

6. Furniture to Fit

I knew where I was moving to, so I didn’t bring any more furniture than would fit in this small studio.  I will eventually be in a 650 sq ft place, so will have a little more room.  But I’ll acquire what I need then.  Even packing my own “pod” and having it trucked out was expensive.  They charged by the mile and I was limited on weight.  I have very little storage space and it may well have cost more to ship and store items than to get them again from FB Marketplace or on good sales.  

Moving and downsizing was so much more time-consuming than I thought it would be.  But I made it; I love my new little space, and I see my daughter several times a week. 

Relationships over things. Every time.

About Rebecca Plasters

Hi - Rebecca Plasters here. I'm recently semi-retired having worked as a family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, school nurse, and public health administrator for decades. Yes, nurses have so many options! Minimalism has been calling my name for several years and I'm enjoying the progress I've made. I downsized from about 3000 sq ft and lived in a travel trailer in my barn while I built a 1200 sq ft house on a 27 acre farm. I have now sold the house / farm, moved cross country, and live in a 350 sq ft studio apartment. What an adventure! I've learned so much, found my own minimal style and am loving this simpler life.


  1. Positiva on 03/14/2024 at 1:08 pm

    Greetings Rebecca,

    Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful guide. Your insights on sorting and letting go of excess are something that people don’t do often, but it’s really important. I’d like to suggest adding the concept of ‘one in, one out’ to maintain minimalism post-move. This rule has helped me myself to keep my space harmonious and clutter-free.

    Maria Positiva

    • Rebecca Plasters on 03/18/2024 at 6:57 pm

      Maria – One in, one out is such a great strategy for maintaining. Thanks!

  2. Kelli Alverest on 03/20/2024 at 3:48 pm

    I found the 1 in 1 out a great concept, consider doing it with other items as well. I downsized from a house to studio too. A couple of years ago. Simple and peaceful living.🤗💜

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