5 Ways to Downsize for a Digital Nomad Lifestyle

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on August 20, 2020 in Live Better

Before I retired from practicing medicine, I began looking for a home base for travel in South America. I wanted a location that was safe, had first-world healthcare, would allow me to brush-up on Spanish, and had a rich history and culture. Ecuador checked all the boxes. 

Once I downsize and sell property here in the U.S., I’ll be exploring Ecuador as a travel writer and photographer. What was once a hobby squeezed into a few weeks a year, is now the second career I longed for.

Downsizing is tough, but I know what’s in store. While I was still working as an anesthesiologist, a colleague and I owned an estate liquidation/downsizing company for several years. 

If you’re preparing for a digital nomad lifestyle at home or abroad, here are five ways to downsize before you move.

Have a Garage Sale

If you intend to sell most of your belongings and don’t mind putting in the work, this is a great option. To clean, arrange, and price everything will take a week or two but the money you make is all yours—less the cost of a newspaper ad if you place one. Post the sale for free on Gsalr.com, YardSaleSearch.com, GarageSaleFinder.com, and your local Facebook Marketplace page, too.

Price household goods at a third or less of the original cost. Clothing needs to be priced very reasonably to sell ($2 to $5 depending on brand and condition, though high-end fashion can sell for more). Furniture pricing varies. Visit a few garage sales in your area to see what the market will bear.

To find the value of vintage items, antiques, and collectibles, research the typical sales price on eBay. It’s not likely to sell for quite as much at your garage sale but this will give you an idea of what it’s worth. It’s likely better to sell higher-ticket items (antique Christmas ornaments, first-edition books, vintage cookie jars, etc.) online.

Everything needs to be priced either individually or by category (hardcover books $1, DVDs $2, for example). 

Hire an Estate Liquidation Company

Most estate sale companies work on commission, typically 35% to 40%. They set up and man the sale, and clean up afterward. Be sure the company you hire hauls away everything that doesn’t sell at no extra charge.

Some estate sale companies have their own online auction sites. This is a great alternative during the pandemic.

A reputable company will be able to give you a ballpark figure on the sale’s net proceeds and what precautions they will take to keep your home and belongings safe. Make sure they’re licensed, bonded, and insured.

Sell Online

Letgo, Craigslist, eBay, and your local Facebook Marketplace are all viable options for selling or donating goods online. Letgo’s easy-to-use phone app allows you take a photo and post your item immediately. 

Your local Facebook Marketplace may require you to be approved before you can post an item for sale. In my area, Facebook is the easiest place to sell furniture and vintage items, while Craigslist is great for posting items you’re giving away.

Items sell faster with good photos and descriptions, including dimensions and defects. For safety, either have someone at your house with you when a buyer comes or meet in a public place. 

Donate to Family, Friends, or Charities

For family heirlooms, check with family members before selling or donating them. Items of sentimental value will never sell for as much as you think they should. It’s better to pass these keepsakes on to someone who’ll treasure them.

If you’re having trouble parting with your grandmother’s fine china, but can’t imagine bringing it with you, take a photo of a place setting to remember it. Then pass it along to the next generation.

Charities need whatever you have, as long as the items are in good condition. The Lion’s Club needs eyeglasses, Habitat for Humanity takes building materials, Goodwill accepts household goods, and the list goes on. 

Sell the House With the Furniture

A friend recently sold her house with the furniture she didn’t want to move. Another friend bought her home with the furniture her seller didn’t need. It’s more common than you think and advantageous for both buyer and seller.

By Teresa Otto

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