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Guide to Downsizing Your Home

February 26, 2020
Downsizing your Home

If you read home and gardening magazines or watch home shows on TV, you’ve probably come across the concept of “downsizing home.” Downsizing is fairly trendy right now, for example, the concept of “tiny houses”. While “tiny houses” are a fairly extreme example, the concept is the same.

Trading your current living situation along with all the costs and responsibilities that come along with it for a simpler, more manageable alternative.

Why Downsize Your Home?

Life is a constant series of stages and changes and this ebb, and flow is what leads people to change their living situations. As families or wealth grow, so do our homes and responsibilities. At some point, we reach a stage where we no longer need or want these things. This is when downsizing home becomes a desirable option.

The goal of downsizing is to economize your living situation and simplify your lifestyle. So, in this post, we’re going to take a look at downsizing as a whole, including some of the best ways to do it and mistakes you should avoid.

Work With a Good Real Estate Agent

Once you’ve decided to downsize your home, you’ll need to look at Steps to Selling a House. What are the most important steps will be finding a real estate agent for this move? A good Realtor essentially lays out the timeline within which the move is going to happen. There are several mistakes you can make during a downsize, and this is one.

You are going to need an agent that understands the market and, more specifically, the timing of the market. You are looking for an agent that knows when to put your current home on the market and when to start looking for your new home. Failure to manage this part of the process well could mean spending a fortune to store your belongings or even worse having to find a short-term rental and moving twice.

It’s important to go through a vetting process with any potential real estate agent. Given the situation, it makes sense to ask them if they have successfully helped someone downsize in the past – they should have a good idea of exactly what you’re looking to do and be able to explain the various steps involved with the downsizing process. If they are unable to do this you’d be wise to keep looking.

Do Your Research

Now we get to some of the more fun stuff! When considering moving to a new location, it’s important to take time and do your research – you wouldn’t want to move into a neighborhood or an area that doesn’t have the amenities you need. Of course, this applies to any move you make, whether you’re downsizing or upsizing. However, you also have to consider lifestyle when it comes to downsizing.

Depending on what type of housing you’re moving into, a condo or townhome, the lifestyle may differ greatly from what you’re used to. Consider this, if you move into a condo, you’ll have to deal with a Homeowner’s Association, if you’re accustomed to living in this kind of environment, it’s probably no big deal. But on the other hand, if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t appreciate rules and restrictions, no matter how well-meaning, living in this kind of situation may not be for you.

If you are looking into a senior living residence, this is another significant change in lifestyle. some of these facilities will allow you a trial night or two to get an idea of what it’s like to live there. Be sure to take advantage of this if available.

where young families are buying starter homes

If downsizing means a smaller single-family home, you’ll first need to make sure you’re up for the required maintenance and upkeep. You’ll also want to make sure the neighbors aren’t going to be a problem. Smaller square footage equals less expensive, and homes in these areas are generally. If you love the sound “big wheels” on concrete and the repeated calling out of Marco Polo, perfect. If on the other hand, you have any concerns that living in this type of neighborhood might turn you into the “Get Off my Lawn” character Clint Eastwood played in Gran Torino, you might look elsewhere.

Start Early

Most people that go through the downsizing process would agree that one of the biggest surprises was how long it takes to get everything organized. The process ends up being a long term project taking weeks, ideally, you should allow yourself about a month to go through everything. it’s not something you can just set aside a weekend and expect to get it done.

This will also give you a little time to acclimate emotionally to the idea of moving. You can move at a slow pace, maybe putting in a couple of hours each day, and even take a day or two off from time to time.

Just like cleaning up, you’ll find it’s a good idea to go from room to room, taking an inventory of all your items. Start with storage spaces like the attic or laundry room, as there may be less in these rooms that are of sentimental value and just taking up space (and therefore, easier to discard).

How Do I Know What to Keep?

Determining what items to keep and which to get rid of may seem like a balancing act when you are downsizing home. You will probably find it tough to do, especially when it comes to weighing whether or not you “need” to keep an item or just “want” to keep it. Here are some great tips on decluttering.

decluttering tips

You can ask yourself some questions to evaluate whether or not you really “need” an item. For example, consider the last time you used it. A good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t used an item in a year, you probably don’t need it anymore.

Some online pages advise sorting all items into a “keep” and a “throwaway” pile, with no “maybe” in between – however, we would argue that it’s okay to keep a “maybe” pile. Do this in the case of items you may need. You can bring them with you to your new residence and sell them later if you find you don’t actually need them. This will save you money instead of making it so that you have to buy new items to replace the ones you threw away.

One thing to be on the lookout for are duplicates: for example, you might not need so many pots or so much silverware, or two separate microwaves (yes, duplicates often tend to be in the kitchen, so look there first). If you’re moving from a two or three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment, you definitely don’t need to bring ten covers!

What About Sentimental Items?

Obviously, figuring out what you want and what you need doesn’t need to be a heartless process: if something has extreme sentimental value to you, of course, we want you to keep it! Consider those family members who may be interested in keeping certain items that you would otherwise dispose of. For example, if you have a piece of furniture that’s been in the family for a few generations but it’s too big to fit in your new abode, ask someone in the family if they’d be willing to take it. You will feel much better doing this than disposing of the item entirely or paying extra money to keep it in storage.

How Can I Save On Space in My New Dwelling?

Maximize space in your new home

If you’re downsizing home into a smaller space you’ll need to change your mindset, but figuring out how to save on space is part of the fun. There are a lot of ways to make the most of your space without adding to clutter: the most obvious way to do this is to add shelves to any closets or rooms you set aside for storage. Wire racks and hooks are other great options.

Sometimes, you can get new, more compact pieces of furniture that would replace the function of a larger piece of furniture that won’t be able to fit in your new space. Get creative here: perhaps you could use an ottoman for storing certain items that are currently in a large cupboard that’s more decorative than functional and, of course, the ottoman can double as a place to sit or rest your feet.

Making the most out of your smaller living space does not mean stuffing it to the brim with furniture or other items to the point you can’t move around comfortably – on the contrary, economizing a smaller living space is all about maximizing comfort with as little clutter as possible. Unfortunately, that may mean you’ll have to get rid of some of your current furniture and purchase new pieces. It may seem to you to be frugal to keep the pieces of furniture you already have, but if you have to dispose of them later or place them in storage you might end up losing money.

On the other hand, there’s no need to start with a completely clean slate – you can and should keep pieces of furniture that will fit snugly into your new dwellings. A good idea is to measure the width of certain pieces of furniture using a good old-fashioned tape measure. You can ask the seller or complex owner for a floorplan of the residence.

Go Through Old Papers

go through old papers

You’ll be surprised how many old papers you have lying around – for example, warranties for products you no longer have -, so a good idea is to go through these and shred ones you no longer need. You may find doing this reduces your storage needs by a box or two, which, depending on the size of your new dwelling, can be significant.

You can also save space by scanning and uploading certain documents to cloud-based services such as Google Drive.

Go Through Storage Boxes

Most of us have boxes full of items we don’t really need anymore – you can go through these boxes, getting rid of the things you no longer need and you can easily turn 4 or 5 boxes into, say, 2 boxes. When storage space is at a premium, every box matters!

Keep Tabs on Your Finances

Just because you’re moving into a smaller space does not necessarily mean you’ll save money – there are more factors involved than square footage. Saving money, after all, is the main point of downsizing for most people so, again, you really need to do your research before deciding on a location.

Assuming that you are a retiree adjusting to a new budget, you’ll have to take into account exactly how much money you aim to save by downsizing. Plan ahead for your new budget – perhaps even run a couple of simulations on paper of your projected monthly expenditure – and make sure the location fits this plan.

Wrapping Up

Overall, determining the best way to downsize in your particular situation can be an exciting process – it’s all about maximizing your comfort and quality of life for less money. If you do your research, plan ahead, and heed some of the other tips we’ve provided here, you’ll find your downsizing a success and find you’ve made the right decision for your long-term happiness.

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