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What to Know When Downsizing Your Home

Know when you're ready, what to do and what to expect when it comes to relocating to a smaller space.

By Kelsey Robertson on December 20, 2016

It seems just like a few days go that you bought your dream home and were filling it to the corners with cribs or mementos that you and your loved one have collected from journeys around the world. Now those cribs have been gone for decades and the mementos are just collecting dust. Could it be time to swap in your dream home for smaller quarters or downsize your home?

But what does it entail to “downsize” your home? More importantly, why do it?

I am ready to downsize when… 

There are many scenarios in which downsizing your home may be applicable. Maybe all of your kids are out of the house (for good this time) and that cardio equipment can only fill up so much space. Maybe you or your partner was laid off of work and you need to save money. Perhaps you are in retirement, the most popular time in life to adapt to smaller quarters. Whether these situations describe your daily life or not, look at your house and assess: Do you need all of your stuff and all of your space?

You can put some money back in your pocket

If you’re not entirely convinced that downsizing is right for you, consider your current financial situation. Swapping your current home for smaller quarters can put more money towards retirement funds or pay off the mortgage of your previous home. Not to mention, your air conditioning bill could go down, your electricity bill has the possibility of knocking off a few numbers and you won’t need to maintain as much upkeep on your home overall. But make sure that when you downscale your home, you’re downscaling costs. For example, choosing a place that may require a lot of remodeling may not help you save money on the mortgage that you would have been paying.

It’s just stuff, and yes, you can get rid of it

One of the biggest challenges that couples face when downsizing their home is finding a place to store their stuff. As time goes on, couples accrue piles of possessions, and not necessarily in a hoarding sense. Maybe you are new empty-nesters who are still holding on to some of your children’s belongings. Or maybe you’ve just had that trinket sitting on your mantle for decades. But, at the end of the day, it’s just stuff, and most of the time, you don’t need it. As Dave Ramsey points out, the average family home was less than 1,000 square feet in 1950. Today, that number is approximately 2,600 square feet and climbing. In a lot of cases, less is more, and you don’t need that stuff to keeping you from saving some money. Host a yard sale for some of these things, or contribute some of that stuff to local drives, which are usually tax deductible.

You are selling a house, not losing a home

Arguably, the biggest thing that stops couples from downsizing their home is the attachments they have to it. For some, a house harbors memories of raising a family, while others simply like every detail about the house, down to the vaulted ceilings or the proximity to the grocery store. Yet, there can be new things to look forward to when choosing a new home. Perhaps you find a condo in walkable community that’s just steps away from everything you need. Maybe in your new complex, you don’t have to worry about mowing the yard or cleaning the pool. May we say that downsizing could be liberating? With these things in mind, downsizing might be the breathing room that you need in this phase of your life. 

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