How To Decide Whether to Downsize

The kids have flown the coop and you're left with more house than you can manage: You are officially an empty nester (though there ought to be a better term for it, don't you think?!).  If you're considering moving from a family size home to something more modest, here are a few things to help you decide if it's time to downsize:

  1. Do you have an entire floor that you don't use?  Do you live in a three-story house but primarily use only one of the floors?  This is one of the biggest clues that it's time to go smaller.  Even if those floors are full of stuff, remember that downsizing is the perfect excuse for your kids to finally get their junk out of the house.  Items you want to hold onto can always go into a storage locker at a much more affordable price.

  • Less house, less money.  One of the biggest advantages of moving into a smaller home is the opportunity to lower your property taxes, insurance premiums and utilities, too.  This means more cash in hand with which to enjoy your retirement. Of course, be sure to consult a financial adviser to learn about any possible tax implications.
  • Maintenance.  Less house also requires less maintenance--less lawn mowing, leaf raking, and driveway shoveling on the outside, and less sweeping, dusting, and mopping on the inside.  And just because you're trading in your one-acre lawn and garden doesn't mean that you can't still have flower boxes and a postage stamp lawn if you so choose--the degree of change that you make is entirely up to you.  But most downsizers refer to the decreased maintenance as one of the major appeals of shrinking their footprint.
  • Updated appliances.  When you downsize, chances are that you'll be upgrading in the appliance department, which also means less maintenance for you.  And let's remember that less time spent on maintenance means more free time for you.  One caveat here is to beware that many of the automated appliances that new houses boast of can be frustrating to those people who have become accustomed to the manual versions.  So before you commit to buying them, be sure that the newer versions are indeed improvements. 
  • Improve your lot.  Look for a new location that has amenities you enjoy and is close to say, shops and dinner.  You may end up spending less time in your vehicle driving to and from and thereby improve your quality of life. 
  • Consider whether or not you want stairs.  Chances are that you're getting on in years, and if you add another ten to your age now, do you see yourself going up and down a flight of stairs?  Many people see downsizing as an opportunity to live in a single level house that they'll be able to navigate easily for the rest of their lives.
  • Sometimes people are so attached to their family home, that the idea of leaving it is daunting. An emotional reaction to selling the home that your children grew up in is to be expected, so be prepared for some nostalgia when it comes time to sell.  On the other hand, downsizing is a wonderful way to prepare for the next stage of your life. 


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