Upsides to Downsizing
When you think about the sacrifices you’ve made to own your dream home, it can be hard to imagine downsizing to a smaller, more practical abode. This was the home your children grew up in. This is the place where you and your spouse were supposed to live out your golden years surrounded by a flock of grandchildren. Moving on could mean scrapping all of your plans for the future.
How could there possibly be upsides to this scenario?
For starters, you’ll have a lower mortgage payment, not to mention lower utility bills. A smaller home also means there will be less to clean and maintain. If you move into a condo, you can finally kiss your lawnmower goodbye.
See where we’re going with this?
Remember NBC’s Parenthood and the rift between Camille and Zeek that nearly destroyed their marriage. As aging empty nesters, the couple argued about whether they should stay in their enormous house filled with family history, or simplify their lives by downsizing and moving into a smaller home that required less maintenance.
This is a common dilemma many folks face once they realize they’re in over their heads with their existing homes. Whether you’ve lost your job and can’t keep up with your mortgage payments, have sent your youngest child off to college, or are retiring and don’t want to be bothered with maintenance and repairs, downsizing remains one of the most effective ways to lighten your load.
While the average American home has grown from less than 1,900 square feet to over 2,400 square feet within the past couple of decades, there are signs that downsizing may increase in the future. Recent reports predict that baby boomers will trade their large, single-family homes for urban condos when the oldest boomers enter their mid-70s (today’s boomers are between the ages of 50 and 68.)
Not all folks who are downsizing are nearing retirement. Many homeowners are still digging their way out of the recession and simply can’t keep up with the mortgage payments and costs associated with maintaining the McMansions they bought before the housing collapse. Thus, they’re faced with the necessity, not choice, to downsize their homes and to learn to live with less.
Now, with more demand for practicality, Kermit Baker, chief economist at the American Institute of Architects says, “There has been a drop-off in the popularity of upscale property enhancements such as formal landscaping, decorative water features, tennis courts and gazebos.” Homeowners are scaling back, and have had to shift their lifestyles and attitudes accordingly.
As you consider downsizing into a smaller home, the important thing to remember is that the benefits far outweigh the reasons for staying and struggling to keep up with a house that doesn’t serve you any longer. Here are a couple of things to consider before you stick the “For Sale” sign in your front yard:
Consider location – even if you decide to rent.
You may end up stay in your temporary home longer than you anticipate. Not settling for a less-than-desirable location will be key to a smooth transition into a life of making do with less.
Have a financial plan in place.
Downsizing is all about saving money and resources. Make it worth your while by talking to a home downsizing consultant to help you some goals for the future and formulate a plan for how you will sell or store your belongings.