When Should I Consider Downsizing?
For many people, the idea of downsizing seems to come unexpectedly. One minute, they bought a home for a growing family, and then time flies by, and they become empty-nesters with too much house. Downsizing is the consequence of the an unexpected moment when you realize that you have more home than you want or need.
The problem with downsizing is that most homeowners don’t consider it until these moment hits. Unlike buying their first home, homeowners rarely think about downsizing. When they do, they are often filled with doubts and have a dilemma about whether or not to make such a move.
If you’ve been thinking about downsizing, then it’s time to look at why people downsize to see if downsizing is right for you. In this article, you’ll also learn how to find the right neighborhood and home as you consider downsizing.
Why People Downsize
Choosing to go from a larger home to a smaller one can take place at many life stages when the goal is to make homeownership easier. For many, these life events include:
- Walkable Lifestyle – Wishing to live, work, and enjoy life all within walking distance
- Environmentally Conscious – Desire to leave a small carbon footprint
- Empty-Nest – Need less space, desire less housework and/or yard maintenance
- Retirement – Fixed income, desire to travel, moving to be closer to family
- Moving for better employment opportunities
Although each of these life events are different, each can lead to the desire to downsize. Doing so can be a smart move.
How Do I Know If Downsizing Is Right For Me?
Just because you experience a life event does not mean that you automatically need to downsize. The truth is that not all retirees or empty-nesters move into a smaller home. The choice depends on how you think about being a homeowner.
- Are there amenities in your current home that you will not want to do without? – For instance, are you used to having a spare room for your crafting? Do you like having the extra bedroom when the children come home for the holidays? Is the whirlpool tub on the back deck something you use regularly? For people that use all the square footage and amenities their home has to offer, they’ll need to consider if they can do without them.
- Are you looking forward to spending less time on housework and yard work? – Many homeowners, after owning a larger home for years, are tired of cleaning the house and mowing the yard. If you see yourself traveling and enjoying more free time, downsizing may be the answer.
- Will you need the extra space or room in case of any family emergencies? It’s always important to consider all aspects of the situation and prepare for the unexpected.
When you downsize, you should feel like you are moving in the right direction, and that it’s the better option for you in the current stage of your life.
Benefits of Downsizing
Although some people may feel that there was no choice but to downsize, but actually many enjoy the freedom that comes with owning a smaller home. Here are some of the benefits to downsizing:
- Less Clutter – Because you have less room, you will keep fewer things.
- Energy Efficiency – Heating and cooling bills will be less because you have less space to keep at a comfortable temperature.
- Lowered Tax Burden – Since property value is determined, in part, by square footage, smaller homes will have a lower tax rate than their larger counterparts.
- Reduced Maintenance Costs – Putting on a new roof for a smaller home is less costly than on a larger home. The same holds true for other projects such as painting, windows, and more.
- More Social Interaction – When living in a smaller home, you will find that you interact more with those that live around you. Additionally, since you will need to spend less time cleaning and maintaining your home, you will have more time to spend enjoying the company of friends and extended family. You may even find that you enjoy being outdoors more.
Finding the Right Neighborhood
When downsizing, it is important to find the right neighborhood. This can be accomplished by determining needs. Your need can include a lifestyle change, less maintenance, financial needs, environmental considerations, and more.
You will want to consider such things as:
- Work commute times – How convenient will it be to get back and forth to work? Be sure to look at the distance plus the traffic patterns.
- Convenience – Are stores and restaurants within walking distance?
- Housing market – Is the area on the way up or the way down? If you are looking for a good deal, areas that have not yet hit their full stride, particularly those on the border of hot market areas, may be a good bet.
- Specialized providers – Hire those that have the right knowledge and experience to help you find the right neighborhood. These providers can include real estate agents, contractors, and lenders.
Finding the Right House
Like finding the right neighborhood, narrowing down to the right home will depend on your wants and needs as a homeowner. Here are some examples:
- Less Maintenance
- Consider condos, townhomes, and co-ops. But do keep in mind that these properties often have association fees.
- Look for homes with simple exterior architecture. Avoid homes with detailed trims, cathedral ceilings, and varied roof lines.
- Newer homes will need less maintenance and renovations.
- Space – Look for homes with the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Determine beforehand if you need a yard, garage, or specific bonus rooms. Also look at available storage.
- Newer homes often have energy-efficient appliances and windows and more insulation.
- New homes may come with amenities such as programmable thermostats, eco-friendly materials like bamboo flooring, and solar panels.