Although a common scenario might be moving an aging parent into an assisted living facility or a smaller home with less maintenance, it’s a fact that downsizing can happen at any stage of life.
For example, empty-nesters might opt for smaller homes needing less maintenance. While newly married couples need to get rid of duplicate items as they blend two households into one.
No matter the reasons for downsizing, the reality is that you’ll need to decide what things to keep and what things to discard. The difficulty in doing so will depend on how long you’ve lived in your home.
If you’ve only lived somewhere five years, you’ll have accumulated fewer memories and belongings than if you’ve lived somewhere for fifty years.
Benefits of downsizing
Downsizing your home offers a variety of benefits including:
- ⬥ saving money
- ⬥ a home that’s faster and easier to keep clean
Saving money is one of the biggest reasons why people consider downsizing.
A smaller home can mean:
- ⬥ a smaller mortgage (or none at all)
- ⬥ lower utility bills
- ⬥ reduced maintenance costs
- ⬥ lower property taxes
- ⬥ less property insurance
- ⬥ more cash at your disposal for other things
In addition to the financial savings, downsizing your home means less time and energy needed to keep it in good shape.
Cleaning house can be done much more quickly, giving you more time to follow other pursuits, such as a growing a garden, building a business or visiting the places you’ve always wanted to see.
If you’ve bought a home with a smaller yard as well as a smaller home, downsizing can also mean less yard work…and who wouldn’t love that?
What are the drawbacks to downsizing?
If the timing doesn’t feel right, downsizing could lead to a feeling of discontent.
Financial burdens, stressful events in your life and an emotional attachment to the home you’re leaving can make downsizing feel very overwhelming.
The smaller storage space that’s available to you when you move to a smaller home means you may have to rethink what you’re going to do with the things you want to keep.
For example, you probably don’t want to get rid of your grandmother’s china, but you’ll have to figure out where to put it, and doing so means you may have to discard something you’d rather not.
In other words, you’ll be forced to make decisions about your possessions that you didn’t have to worry about in a bigger space.
Smaller living space
If you’re used to a lot of space between you and your family members, you might find it a challenge being more constrained in your new, smaller home.
Also, if you’re used to having a room for guests, but now you don’t, you’ll need to make different arrangements when you have guests
It can be hard to let go of family heirlooms or other possessions that you’ve enjoyed.
To keep things in perspective as you wade through your possessions keep in mind that very often it’s the memories attached to an item, not the item itself that gives your things the value they hold.
Take digital pictures and/or write down your memories that are attached to the items you’re decluttering to help you let go.
How to decide if you should downsize
Unless you’re being forced to downsize, when you move to a smaller place you’re making a lifestyle choice.
If you’re on the fence about downsizing, wondering if it would be the right move for you, consider the following factors:
- ⬥ Your house is filled with “just-in-case” furniture, kitchen appliances and empty bedrooms
- ⬥ It takes you much longer to clean your home than it used to, making you dread doing it.
- ⬥ If you hire help to do things you normally would have done yourself it might be time to move.
Think about where your home is located. Would you rather be living closer to work or the downtown area now that the kids have grown?
Are you close to other family members or just living in a neighborhood you enjoy?
There are a lot of factors to consider when downsizing your home. It’s not always a simple and easy decision, especially if you’ve been living in your home long enough to experience many life events there.
If you’re finding it hard to make a decision, give yourself a hard deadline, such as putting your home up for sale by a specific date, to help nudge you into making a choice.
Bottom line, it’s a lifestyle choice that only you and your family can make, but you just might be surprised at just how freeing it can be to let go of the extra things in your life that you didn’t really need.