Many retirees are exploring the idea of becoming nomadic and travelling once they are no longer tied down to a job. But preparing for RV or campervan life can be both thrilling and stressful! Especially if you have a lot of stuff. This transition can be kind of painful. If you need to downsize to prepare you for your new RV life, I have ten great downsizing tips that can help!
How To Downsize For Full-Time RV Living
1. Sort your household items into categories
The best way to tackle your stuff is to organize it into categories. Get all of your appliances in one place, clothes, keepsakes, and everything else. Then, sort by category so you can get a full picture of how much you have.
When you have everything sorted, it is easy to see your duplicates and evaluate which items are absolutely necessary for your new life.
2. Move into your RV before you have to move out of your home
Do a practice run of living in your RV before you need to move out of your home. You can do this by taking a short trip or even living in your own driveway!
Make a note of the things you are missing and what your RV needs. Plus, eliminate items that you didn’t use. Organization will be key to living in a much smaller space so make sure everything has a proper place and can be easily accessed. This test run is a great time to move things around for optimal use and room.
3. Give your family heirlooms to other family members
You don’t have to get rid of family heirlooms that you don’t have the room or use for! Give them to your family members to cherish while you’re enjoying RV life.
But don’t be surprised to find out that your children and other family members don’t want to inherit Aunt Mimi’s sterling silver tea set or your Royal Dalton figurines. In which case, you need to decide if it is time to let go of those things altogether.
4. Be logical and realistic with your decisions
It’s easy to dream up a completely different life when we retire, but you need to be realistic and pace yourself. Moving into a RV is already a big change, adding other new hobbies or skills in the beginning will be extremely challenging.
So if you aren’t a daily runner or cyclist or master crafter right now, then it’s not worth taking up precious space in your RV with all the accoutrements of new hobbies you may want to start in the future. Be logical, and think about the things you need to be comfortable in the beginning and limit yourself to those items.
5. Start decluttering your home early
Don’t wait till the last second! Start decluttering your home months in advance to allow yourself plenty of time to sort through all of your belongings.
Decluttering is as much an emotional job as a physical one. It takes time to adjust to letting things go. And you will find the process gets easier when you are not in a rush. Plus, I personally find that if you give yourself time for a second purge, you will be better at making decisions about letting more things go.
6. Rethink your wants vs. needs
When you think of keeping something, ask yourself if this is something you really need or if you just want it. It’s okay to have things you want in your RV, but it should be mostly filled with the stuff you need. Your test run of living in the RV should help you sort through and clarify which items are needs and which are wants.
But don’t be afraid to keep a few items that truly bring you joy. You want your RV to feel like home and if a framed photograph, a stuffed toy or your favourite teapot make you feel warm and fuzzy, then keep it.
7. Digitize whenever possible
This applies to photos, paper, bills, books, and anything else that you want to save but do not need to save the actual physical copy of to enjoy. Even scrapbooks and other hardcopy items can be digitized relatively easily and saved for later digitally.
Data sticks are relatively inexpensive to buy and take up very little room. I find it is best to be organized in the process of digitizing too. Use different sticks as well as download folders when saving so that you can easily find information when you need to.
8. Get rid of maybes
If you are unsure about whether or not to keep something, you probably don’t need it. But if in doubt, box those items up and label the box with the date. If you haven’t gone into that box in 3 months, it is safe to pitch it without even looking in it.
If you haven’t officially moved out of your home yet, you can keep that box in the garage or attic space. If you have already begun your RV life, see if you can temporarily store your maybes at a friend or relatives house for the 90 days. You can ask them to pitch it after that.
9. Consider the cost of long term storage
If you are thinking about saving a few items for long term storage, think about how much that storage decision will cost. You may find that if you have to pay $100+ per month, those items aren’t worth that cost.
However, if you do not plan on living the RV life permanently, you should balance the cost of the rental against having to buy everything new again when you decide to stop travelling full time.
10. Think about future purchases
You will have to buy stuff at some point, and you don’t want your RV to be so full that you can’t ever purchase anything ever again. To help with this, make sure that you declutter enough to allow some wiggle room for new purchases you may make in the future.
Once you are living full time in your campervan or RV, get into the habit of throwing something out whenever you bring something new into it. This will ensure that you don’t ever over-whelm your small space with stuff.
Whether you are downsizing for temporary or permanent RV life, these tips are going to help you out so much! If you’re not preparing for life in an RV, this post could still be helpful for those looking to massively downsize their home.