By Jenna Burger
You and your spouse got married, bought a home, and raised three beautiful children. You’ve lived and loved your home for 30 years, but the kids have moved out and started their own families.
Now you’re living in the 2,500 square foot home, half of which you don’t use other than the five times a year when “the kids” come to visit. The question arises, why do we have all this space when most of it rarely gets used? Does it make sense to downsize? What opportunities can come about if we let this large home go? What are the pros and cons of downsizing as we are planning on retirement?
There is a lot to consider with downsizing. Whether a house, townhome, or apartment, moving to a smaller space can have its challenges, but if planned well, the next chapter of your life can bring less maintenance and more fun. When relocating to a space that is a fraction of the size, there is a great likelihood that you’ll need to reduce the amount of furniture and decor that has been collected over the years.
The process of reducing your “stuff” can take time and potentially feel overwhelming. Purging can be exhausting. To start, it is best to approach the process with an objective mindset. Letting go of sentimental items can be difficult, but go piece-by-piece and ask yourself, “Is this of value or need going forward?”
Allow yourself enough time to avoid pressure in making rash decisions. Create three different piles or sections that include: keep, donate, throw away. Go room by room and give yourself a week for each space to keep the process from getting too daunting.
Downsizing can allow for more freedoms like traveling, spending time with your spouse and/or family, and trying new hobbies. Once you’ve got your head wrapped around what is staying and what is going, the next best step is to determine what size space would be the right size for you.
Living in a smaller setting is certainly going to be different, but for downsizing to make sense and worth the effort, the right space may take time to figure out. If you’re unsure of the best size for your new space, visit homes of varying sizes to see if it provides what you need. Stay in an Airbnb for a week to see if it suits your spatial desires. Determining the right size for your new setting will be an important step to ensure the space is just the right fit!
If you’re selling a larger home, maybe of which you purchased decades before, you most likely will make a profit on the sale. A smaller home that costs less to purchase, will then in turn leave you with more money in your pocket. This could potentially leave you in a position to retire early or move to a more desirable area. A larger home that isn’t used to its fullest potential may be the weight to be lifted to allow for a better and more enjoyable lifestyle.
Along with the home savings of a smaller home, the maintenance and upkeep costs can also be lessened. From utilities to lawn care to cleaning, maintaining a larger home can be overwhelming, costly, and time consuming. Who wants to spend three hours mowing the lawn on a Saturday when you could be hiking or playing golf? With a home better suited to your needs and life goals, the costs and maintenance of a space can be a fraction of the time needed for a larger home.
Making the decision to downsize can be difficult. Many wonderful memories have been made in a home where your children were raised. But is that worth staying? When evaluating the idea of moving, ask yourself why. Why are you considering downsizing. Spending less time cleaning and more quality time on what is important certainly could make for better years ahead.
Lastly, downsizing, doesn’t have to be downgrading. Your standards for living can certainly be met even though you‘re in a smaller space. There is no need to compromise on your surroundings and the lifestyle you‘ve worked so hard toward.
Enjoy retirement. Don’t be bogged down with a home that doesn’t suit your needs anymore. Maybe this is the time to explore a new city. Maybe this is a time to move closer to family. Whatever the situation, take a step back to analyze what will be best for life’s next chapter.
By Jenna Burger