Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Luke Feldbrugge
There are a lot of reasons why people want to downsize when buying a home. The kids are off to college or buying homes of their own, you’re getting older, or you just realize you don’t need as much space as you thought you did. But downsizing almost always impacts the way you live in one way or another. So, it’s worth taking a thoughtful look at what’s important to you and what will be important in your new, smaller home. Here are the top things to consider when downsizing your home.
What Type of Home is Best When Downsizing?
Downsizing your home may not mean you end up with a home at all. Single-family homes, townhouses, condos, apartments and even tiny homes can all be attractive options when looking to live with less. It’s all about finding the home that best aligns with your goals and needs.
If you are entering your senior years and don’t want to worry about yard work and other maintenance, a condo could be the perfect fit. Another good fit for a senior homeowner would be a small bungalow on the outskirts of a town because they are very low-maintenance properties. A tiny home could be good for a young, adventurous couple, but may not be the ideal fit for a family of four. For homeowners who have spent years living in a detached, single-family home, it can be hard to imagine a condo in a high-rise. But that may be just what you need to live the life you want.
Be open to all kinds of options and remember that you want to downsize for a reason. Keep your priorities in mind and use them to guide your decision on what type of home makes the most sense for you and your family.
Location, Location, Location
It’s the number one rule in real estate for a reason, and that doesn’t change when downsizing your home. But your needs might. If you are downsizing because you are getting older or have health issues, being closer to the city and resources may be better than a home out in the country. Likewise, a condo downtown where you can walk to all kinds of stores in a matter of minutes might alleviate the need to drive and allow you to spend more time enjoying yourself instead of running errands. If you’re downsizing because you’re an empty nester, maybe a house closer to your children is in the cards. Maybe you stay on the very same block, just in a smaller home that’s less expensive.
The point is, you need to consider the amenities offered by a particular area and how the location of your home is going to impact your life.
How Small is Too Small?
In thinking about how to downsize successfully, you need to think more about your lifestyle than square footage requirements. If you are downsizing your home so you can cut out bills and spend the majority of your time outdoors, a tiny home with even 600 square feet could be perfect. But if you like to host big family gatherings during the holidays and have large meals together, you’re going to need a house that still provides a lot of entertaining space. If you like to enjoy outdoor activities and need a place to store bikes, kayaks, canoes and other equipment, you may need a home with a garage.
If you already know you need a bedroom of a certain size or a bare minimum ceiling height to feel comfortable, certainly keep those numbers in mind. Otherwise, ignore the square footage and instead try to picture yourself actually living in the homes you consider and what that space would mean for your lifestyle.
Tips for How to Downsize Successfully
Learning how to downsize successfully takes a little more thought than just throwing out boxes of old items from the attic. When you find the home you want to buy and when you actually start the moving process, you need to be strategic or you’ll be creating unnecessary stress for yourself. It’s also important to consider how you’re going to find chartered surveyors local to you who can help you out before you put in an offer on a property you like. Here are some tips on how to downsize with as little pain as possible:
- When looking at prospective houses, measure the rooms so you have an idea of what furniture will fit and what you’ll need to leave behind.
- Before you move, organize all of your belongings and be prepared to make some tough decisions about what to keep and what to throw out. Some things may be more painful to let go of than others. But sometimes a fresh start means you have to let go of the past.
- If things are too hard to part with, there are ways to retain the memories without keeping the actual items. Take photos of all your cherished, yet unnecessary items and create a digital scrapbook.
Downsizing can be a major change, especially if you’re used to living in a large home. But our needs change over time, as do our goals. Keep those two things top of mind when searching for homes and you are sure to find the perfect fit – even if it seems a little snug at first.
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