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How to Successfully Downsize into a Smaller Space

Whether you’re moving into a tiny home, retirement facility or even a van – making the decision to downsize can be extremely liberating; however, it can also be both physically and emotionally exhausting. While the idea of keeping the belongings you need and getting rid of the ones you don’t sounds simple, that usually isn’t the case. In an effort to simplify this process we’ve reached out to the experts in tiny living, from Philadelphia to Portland, to compile some helpful tips and tricks to make your transition from more to less that much easier.

Identify your “why”

Living the Van Life

My approach to our potential homeowners is first to determine what their intended use of their Tiny house is, whether it’s an investment rental, full-time part-time living situation, vacation home? or? How many individuals, children, hobbies, pets, ladders stairs, size, budget, Tiny house placement? On off-grid? You get the picture. A lot of times folks are enamored by the thought of going tiny but really haven’t thought through what that would mean for them as an individual, it’s not a one size fits all. The process gets pretty in-depth for someone that’s serious and I walk them through this process to be sure that there are no surprises once their Tiny arrives. – Tiny Mountain Houses

Differentiate bet

Hit the road and enjoy life in the slow lane

ween needs and wants

When downsizing into a van, storage is going to be a huge obstacle. You will quickly realize you have way too many things. Before converting a van, I’d recommend laying out everything that you plan to fit in your van in one room to see how much you actually have. You will want to make sure all of your items have a “home” within your van, which may require you to measure many of your items. – Outbound Living

Downsizing may seem overwhelming, but it should be liberating. Most people accumulate “stuff” over the years that they don’t use or need and it just piles up and becomes a burden. Once you decide on your ideal tiny home, floating home, or a houseboat, visualize the minimum you’ll need in each room. If you haven’t used something in the past 3 months, you most likely won’t need it and it should go — sell it on Craigslist or at a yard sale, give it away, or as a last resort, put it in storage. When you’re done, you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted and you’ll be amazed at how little you actually need to be happy, healthy and comfortable! – USA Waterviews

When you’re moving into a small space like a tiny house, an RV or a campervan, you’ll really have to go through your stuff with a fine-toothed comb. Only take what you will truly love and use every day, and either donate the rest or get a small storage unit. Severing your psychological connection to your stuff might be painful, but as soon as you get rid of your unused things, you won’t even notice. Trust me, I’ve done it! Use packing cubes to organize your clothes, and bins for things like kitchen items, camping gear and toiletries. Only keep as many dishes, forks and cups you will use on a daily basis – for example, we only own two of each. And have fun with it! When you downsize, you’ll be happier and clutter-free! – The Wayward Home

Organize and optimize

Check first the storage capacity of your new home. Moving into a tiny house generally means smaller spaces. Furniture that worked in your large home may be either too l

You can fit it all in if you downsize properly

arge for space or not fit at all. We recommend measuring the height, width, and depth of all the furniture you’re not sure about. Write down all the measurements. This will save you a lot of time and List down all the things that you cannot live without and things that are ok to leave behind. – Tiny House Citizens

When creating storage in a Tiny Home, it’s a good idea to display “pretty items” (such as dishware) on open shelving, and storing “ugly items” (such as a crockpot) out of sight in a closet or cabinet. Build your cabinets to be very high or very low, to allow for a clear eyeline throughout your home. Every inch counts! Doing this throughout your home will make the space seem larger. – Tiny House Giant Journey

Kitchen items that collapse are especially beneficial when moving into a small space. You can now purchase specially developed pots, pans, cups and even bowls that collapse when not required. This means you can drastically de-clutter your kitchen. – Vanlife Adventure Team

We were living in a NYC apartment when we decided to downsize for van life and full time travel. At first it can be hard to get rid of physical things, but once the travel begins you realise how little you really need and how happy you can be with less! Storage is key for keeping our tiny space tidy, we use a lot of TouRig bunker bags to keep the van organised. They hold everything from our socks, camp chairs, computers, to the dogs toys and treats. – TouRig

Utilize dual-purpose items

If you’re planning on downsizing into a vehicle like a van or another small space, we highly suggest thinking about how to have more than one use for the amenity you’re including. You’ll want to prioritize not only what you bring along, but how you configure your new home to maximize spatial utility. For example, if you can have a bed that also converts into a couch you can make dynamic use of the space and not have to have a separate lounge area from your sleeping area, which will open up more opportunities for storage, other living amenities, or open space! – Beartooth Vanworks

We always say we think in cubic inches instead of square feet.  When planning spaces it is important to consider the entire volume including the height and use the tall walls and ceiling as one would the floor space.  In preparing for your new living style we also suggest measuring the items you are taking with you.  Measure the stack of folded clothes, blenders, Instapot, etc. so you know exactly how much space they need and you can design storage specifically around them. – Teacup Tiny Home

Don’t be afraid to let things go

Moving from a 1400 square foot house full of antiques and heirlooms to just over 350 sq feet meant we had to get rid of everything. I decided to start with my most treasured piece, a solid pine kitchen table that all my kids grew up around, did their school work on, ate our meals at,  carved their names into! I listed it privately and it was scooped up by a friend. Letting go of that piece really allowed me to move on in this journey. Our goal was to live tiny and this was part of the process. We’ve lived tiny for almost two years and have no regrets. There is not one piece of furniture that I miss or wish that I had kept. I know that everything I let go of is being loved and enjoyed by others. – Great Canadian Tiny House

The “one in – one out” rule

One in – one out! Whenever you purchase something new or bring anything into your smaller space, you have to get rid of 1 belonging in exchange. On top of that, make sure you’re doing regular purges! Assessing your belongings every few months is always a good idea. If you haven’t used something within a month or so, donate it! – Go-Van Team

Moving into a smaller space with a partner, kids, or pets

Communication really is key – living with a partner is tough as is, and living tiny sometimes means taking “me time” outdoors. Know how to ask for space and always be growing. Plan ahead for your pets or kids by choosing stairs over a ladder. Plan ahead in your layout for storage, dedicated space, or bathrooms (like our hidden cat bathroom for Oliver). – Tiffany the Tiny Home

Our top tip for moving into a smaller space is to make sure that everything serves multiple purposes. When we moved into our van, downsizing our wardrobe from a large closet to a single dresser drawer each was challenging. We decided to invest in clothes that could work for multiple situations, such as walking around a new city and going for a hike, and that is made out of higher quality materials and can be worn multiple times, limiting how many items we actually needed. – Adventures of A+K

Maybe a houseboat is more your style

12 things you need on board a boat to live comfortably 

  1. Easy-to-inflate dinghy
  2. AC/Heat Thermo pumps
  3. Marine binoculars
  4. Folding deck chair
  5. Boat vacuum cleaner
  6. Inflatable floating dock
  7. Galvanic isolator
  8. Replacement Outdrives
  9. Inflatable life jackets
  10. Bow and stern thrusters
  11. Propane 
  12. First aid kit

All About Houseboats is the website for Houseboaters by Houseboaters its new ebook “How to Live on a Houseboat the step by step guide to making a dream a reality” is now available. – All About Houseboats

 Originally Published on Redfin

Florida’s Sinking Coast – Part 1

The earth’s ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, and sea levels are rising just as rapidly. According to a recent study, ice melt has caused seawater levels to rise nearly 7.8 inches in the last 150 years alone. With 2016 slated to become the hottest year on record, ice melt and sea-level rise show no signs of slowing down.

Many low-lying coastal areas throughout the world are routinely flooded, and many in the past century have become completely and irreversibly submerged. If global sea level continues to rise at this rate, coastal communities all across the globe may soon meet with a similar fate.

Coastal Florida is one such area. Parts of Miami, as well as other low-lying parts of the state, routinely experience flooding during high tides, and local governments throughout South Florida have already begun spending money on drainage improvements and pumping equipment. But how much will sea levels continue to rise? How quickly? How will this affect a Florida economy so dependent on coastal tourism? And what, if anything, can be done to prevent it?

Many scientists estimate that sea levels will rise somewhere between 3 and 6 feet by the end of the century. In certain low-lying parts of Florida, the shoreline is expected to move about 300 feet inland with each foot of sea-level rise. Some worry that such low-elevation Florida cities as Sarasota, Venice, North Port, Bradenton, Punta Gorda, Naples, and Holmes Beach will either turn into islands or become completely submerged within the next 100 years. The following image is a projection, generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management, of how Miami-Dade County would likely be affected by a 3-foot rise in sea levels.

In addition to permanently inundating low-lying coastal lands, rising sea levels are also expected to cause a huge increase in storm surge and tidal floods along Florida coastland. Of the 10 urban centers in the United States that are most vulnerable to storm surge – temporary rise in sea level that is caused by storms – Florida is home to over half. Tidal flooding resulting from storm surge typically drains from the land in a matter of days, but the damage it causes is often substantial. Southeast Florida currently experiences an average of 10 tidal floods annually, but within the next 30 years, scientists estimate that the region will be forced to endure a staggering 240 floods annually.

In Florida, sea-level rise is not merely a science issue, says Boca Raton-based oceanographer John Englander, but “a real estate, finance and built-environment issue” as well. Should sea levels rise significantly within the next century, measures currently being taken to prevent coastal flooding – such as elevating infrastructure and buildings, building detention ponds, installing pumps, digging runoff tunnels, and improving storm sewers – will not be enough to keep the coasts above water, and people will be forced to evacuate many South Florida areas. This would inevitably lead to a spike in property value in higher-elevation, inland regions just north of the southern coast, like Highlands, Polk, and Lake counties.

So what does this mean for property owners along the Florida coast? Well, at this point much remains unclear. Those living in Florida – citizens and government officials alike – can’t seem to agree on the merits of the scientific evidence indicating that sea-level rise is real, or if the threat it poses to their coasts is legitimate. As a result, little has been done to prepare the state’s coastal communities for what potentially lies ahead.

Some folks – including builders, architects, realtors, and developers – are skeptical of the supposed dangers posed by rising sea levels, and view the whole thing as overblown. They point out that sea levels naturally fluctuate over time, and view the recent increase as just the current swing of a pendulum that will inevitably head back in the opposite direction.

Others very much believe the warning calls from scientists, and insist that we take heed. They worry that unless action is taken now, taxpayers will end up having to spend a fortune trying to reverse the problem later on down the road. But by then, some fear, it will be too late; much of low-lying Florida will have drowned, tourism revenue will have plummeted, and the state economy will have taken a nosedive.

So who’s right? And what does all of this speculation mean for Florida’s coastal real estate market? Stay tuned for Part 2, as we discuss how sea-level rise is already beginning to affect Florida’s coastal homeowners.

The Restorative Power of Water: Part One

You don’t have to buy a waterfront home to achieve serenity…you can just take a walk, a deep breath, and observe the natural surroundings. But recent research has shown that having a view from your home, particularly of water, can make a difference in your physical and mental condition and your abilities.

 

People have long been aware of the calming, rejuvenating effects of nature. Indeed, many of us would agree that we are more relaxed, clear-headed, and cheerful upon returning from a stroll through the woods, the park, or along the shore.

Science has long validated this phenomenon, with study after study demonstrating the power of nature to reduce stress and improve our general wellness.

But despite the breadth of scientific literature alluding to the curative effects of nature, there has been little consensus among scientists regarding the specific mental health benefits it provides, let alone how it provides them. The influence exerted by natural environments upon the human mind has continued to elude our understanding.

A number of recent studies, however, have begun to shine light on the particularities of this influence.

Environmental psychologists exploring how humans experience nature have turned their attention to attention; specifically, to how we direct our attention while amidst nature, and how immersing ourselves in nature influences how we pay attention to things once back in the built environment.

Attention Restoration Theory – a formulation of how the human mind functions within natural, as opposed to manmade, environments – is gaining significant traction within the scientific community.

According to the theory, humans are limited in the amount of attention they are able to pay to objects in their surroundings. Concentrating on the tasks of day-to-day life is a psychologically taxing endeavor, and our finite attentional resources are continually being drained over the course of the day.

In addition to these daily demands, the built environment in which we spend the vast majority of our lives places a tremendous amount of strain on our attentional reserves as well. Artificial environments, so the theory goes, overload our perception with a barrage of stimuli that command and hold our attention.

Consider the example of walking down a busy city street: the roaring engines and frantic honking of cars, crosswalk signals counting down or flashing at us to stop or go, sidewalks cramped with pedestrians hurriedly shouldering past, billboards instructing you what movie to go see or which toothpaste to buy. Even when we arrive home, flipping through the television channels or opening our laptops, we are scarcely able to escape the hyper-stimulation of the modern, interconnected world.

So what happens when our environments bombard us with sensory input that seizes our attention and refuses to let go?

According to Attention Restoration Theory, we eventually begin to experience what is referred to as directed attention fatigue (DAF).

DAF – which occurs when our attentional resources have been depleted – makes it exceedingly difficult for us to focus our attention on any one task for any prolonged amount of time, increases the amount of cognitive mistakes we make in our daily functioning, and can increase our stress levels.

But are all natural environments equally beneficial? Stay tuned for Part Two…the answer may surprise you.