How to Downsize Before Moving into a Small RV Space

how to downsize
(photo by OakleyOriginals via FlickrCC)

There’s a lot to love about making the decision to move into your RV. Your lifestyle suddenly becomes mobile, allowing you to live anywhere you can drive to. RVers are a social bunch, giving you plenty of opportunities to meet new people. And you get all the best parts of camping while still keeping comforts such as air conditioning and a proper mattress. On the other hand, moving into such a small space presents unique challenges: namely, how to downsize your life.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, don’t despair. Comfortably moving into an RV is entirely possible, even if you plan on selling your house. It can even be freeing — what better excuse is there to get rid of all that junk you’ve been storing in the garage for all of these years?

Before you get packing, we find that it’s best to strategize your move ahead of time. Here are a few tips on downsizing to keep in mind when you’re starting a new chapter of full-time RV living.

Moving Into a Small Space

Before offloading your physical baggage, take some time to get rid of the emotional baggage that comes with giving up many of your material possessions. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true: Often, the hardest part about getting rid of things is dealing with the sentimental value we place on our clothing, furniture, and home goods.

One strategy to get rid of something while retaining the special memory is to take photographs of the item. This way, you can still reminisce about a piece of child’s artwork or the shirt you wore when you met your significant other without having to actually keep it.

The same thing can be done with many important documents. Store photos of these on a USB drive or a secure file on your computer, and keep the physical copies at a relative’s home or in a safe deposit box.

Another strategy is to give the item to someone you know who will cherish it. If it’s a piece of furniture or a home decoration that’s significant to your family history, see if there’s a sibling, niece or nephew, or grandchild that would like to inherit it. If not, consider giving to a charitable organization where your items can live a second life with another person who will truly appreciate them.

Downsizing Tips

The best tip we can offer is to be ruthless with what you decide to keep. Although it can be fun to have a winter coat in every color of the rainbow, it probably isn’t necessary. You can save a lot of space by paring down your clothing — the idea of a “capsule wardrobe” is so popular these days that there are all sorts of guides on how to maintain variety with very few items.

Keep your highest quality items and get rid of everything else. When you only have one frying pan or four plates on board, you want them to be items that will last for years to come.

On that note, don’t clutter up your space by keeping duplicate items. In a house where there’s plenty of storage, there’s no need to think twice about having four different salad bowls. But in an RV, your cabinets can get cramped pretty fast. You probably don’t need eight towels or three extra sets of sheets — visiting a laundromat on a regular basis can help you stay clean without having to find a place to store a bunch of extra linens.

For clothes and linens that you just can’t get rid of, consider investing in a few vacuum bags. These handy storage savers are a great way to pack down bulky items such as pillows and comforters when they’re not in use.

how to downsize
Mini living (photo by PunkToad via FlickrCC)

RV Living

Part of the RV lifestyle is learning how to be a minimalist. Instead of lugging around your own bicycle or kayak, consider renting these items at your travel destination to save space. As a bonus, you won’t have to worry about repairs and maintenance!

If you’re a person who enjoys having new clothes or housewares, try shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops. Just bring a few items to donate or sell whenever you want to buy something new. By creating a “one in, one out” rule, you can switch up your look without accumulating more things to store.

Books are another easy thing to ditch. If you’re not a Kindle person, try becoming one! E-readers save a ton of space and give you the option to buy a new book any time you’re looking for something new to read.

Home is Where You Park It

Downsizing your life comes with a lot of emotions — not to mention the actual labor of packing and moving! But it’s all worth when you finally get to hit the road in an RV that’s all your own.

If you find yourself getting too swept up by the idea of getting rid of things, take some time off and reevaluate the situation with fresh eyes a few hours or days later. Remember, there’s no need to be too militant about what you can keep. RVs are nothing more than tiny homes, so they should feel homey! It’s OK to keep your favorite blanket or mug if it will make your new RV feel like home.

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