The most overwhelming part about jumping into the RV lifestyle was downsizing 👉 the process of figuring out what to do with all our stuff when transitioning from a house to an RV as our home.

For reference, I would’ve considered us to be halfway between minimalists and normal American packrats. When we first moved into our house, we had plenty of extra space in closets and cupboards. We were proud of the fact that we were only using about a quarter of the space in our 1,200 sq. ft. basement, and our garage could easily fit a vehicle the way it was supposed to

But turns out, the downsizing process blew a big gaping hole in my assessment. We had WAY more stuff than I thought we did 😂 Just as we allow a task to take up the time allotted, so too did we allow stuff to take up the space allotted.

With just 3 months to downsize 90% of our belongings, we had to figure out the best (and fastest) way to do that.

Here are 5 things we found helpful during our downsizing:

1. GO THROUGH MULTIPLE ROUNDS OF DOWNSIZING

We made the decision to transition to RV living on April 19th. By the first week of May, we were so excited by the idea, we began selling stuff from the basement that we hadn’t used since we moved in and had no emotional attachment to.

Once we had a reason, it was shockingly easy to begin getting rid of stuff. After the initial round of items from the basement, we took a look at items from the upstairs living area that we could sell with little resistance. This is what our rounds of downsizing looked like:

  1. Can’t remember the last time we used it – no emotional attachment. Easy peasy to sell.
  2. Have used it, but only once. A bit tougher to sell because you can still see its potential, but ultimately not tough to sell.
  3. Things you love, and even have multiple of because you think they’re so cool and helpful…very tough to sell because it does bring me joy, ok Marie Kondo? (but do you need 4 of them??)
  4. Sentimental items and things you actually love and use often – extremely tough to sell, if possible at all.

2. LET YOUR SELLING FUND YOUR PURCHASING

We used the cash we made from downsizing and selling our stuff to buy the new stuff we needed for life on the road. This served as motivation when I didn’t want to give something up – was it worth it to store this item in a basement where I wouldn’t see it for a year or more, and consequently reach into my wallet to purchase new items we needed? The answer was usually no.

Overall, we sold about $5,000+ worth of stuff that allowed us to get all the fittings for our new RV without spending on credit or straining the budget. It felt like free money.

3. YOU PROBABLY WON’T MISS IT WHEN YOU CAN’T SEE IT

Maybe this one is because we’re both ADHD and “out of sight, out of mind”, but one question people ask all the time is if we miss any of our stuff. The answer is a resounding “no” (with very few exceptions).

The 3 exceptions for me are my electronic adjustable standing desk, a 27″ monitor, and the Ninja spaceship (as we call it). Other than that, we sold an entire house full of stuff and we couldn’t even tell you what we sold. The only way we’d remember what we were “missing” is if we saw pictures, and even then, it more often than not reminds us that it was a good choice to give it up.

Downsizing GIF

 4. GET YOUR RV BEFORE DOWNSIZING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU CAN FIT

Oh man, we thought we had the spacing figured out so many times, but the real test was when we brought our rig home and were able to load our stuff in.

You don’t realize how many small knick-knacks you have in your house until you only have 2 drawers total for your entire kitchen, living, and dining area. We bought a rig that had the most storage out of the models we had seen, and even then, space got tight quickly.

So we fit what we could and continued to sell what wouldn’t fit. Don’t guess about your storage situation; map it out and be purposeful so you can maximize your space. One space we had to downsize quite a bit was the kitchen 👀

5. SCAN THE SENTIMENTALS (OR STORE THEM)

One thing I had saved since I was 10 years old was most of the cards and letters that important people in my life had sent me. So for over 2 decades, I carried these notes around with me, maybe opening SOME of them once every 5 years or so, smiling at the sentiment and boxing them back up.

While it was the hardest part for me, I ended up scanning every card, letter, and note and tossing the originals (except for one small stack). The truth is, while it felt special for me to look through them once in a blue moon, I have far more access to them now that they’re scanned and I can look at them on Google Drive or iCloud.

If you do have sentimental items that are important for you to hold on to – see if you can store a box or two at a friend or family member’s house.

BONUS TIP: LET IT GO

I had a very hard time selling expensive items because the price tag of what I had paid initially always flashed in my head as I let someone buy it for 50% or even 25% of its original price. And donating? I had an even harder time doing that knowing that I was giving away brand new items that we simply didn’t have time to sell.

But at the end of the day, it’s just stuff. We were chasing a life of freedom, and part of that is freedom from “stuff”.

Take a breath, let it go, and get on with your new life. You’ll be glad you did.