I’d like to redefine the term “Downsizing” to “Rightsizing” because this isn’t a term just about empty nesters and retirees anymore. There are also single parents and dual-income partners with no children, as well as traditional families who don’t need the large home anymore for several reasons. Whether they can’t afford it, it’s too large for their current stage in life or just do not want to deal with the upkeep and maintenance, people need to consider the right fit for their home size.
The most common mistake when downsizing is that one’s living space shrinks but the stuff doesn’t. Most folks will try to bring everything they have. A good rule to prepare for a move to the right size home is simple but challenging. Take the percentage difference of square feet and add 10% for growth in your new home. For example, if you’ve decided to go from 3,000 to 1,500 square feet the difference is 50%, add your cushion and you’ve got 60%. So you can fit a little less than half of what you own now into your new space.
We all realize that as we mature our lives aren’t necessarily about our possessions or the size of our cave. Many homeowners are deciding to do with less space because there are many advantages. Your house should fit you like a great outfit, not too tight but not quite like a potato sack either.
There are important mental, physical and emotional advantages to rightsizing. You can decrease your stress by having:
- Less work – when your house is smaller there is less to repair, less to clean and less to take care of such as landscaping, plumbing, gutters, shoveling, painting etc.
- Less clutter – moving to a smaller home will force you to part with possessions that probably don’t mean much to you anymore. You’ll be taking only what you love, use and need which will simplify your life. Your possessions will be easier to find, therefore easier to use and convenient to be returned to their given spots.
- More time – with less work you’ll have more time. Wouldn’t it be fun to spend it on a new hobby or time with friends and family?
Additionally, this idea has become popular with smart homeowners because it makes a lot of financial sense:
- Lower mortgage – This has the potential for a huge savings. If you can save $500 a month on your mortgage you will save $6,000 a year. After one decade you’ll have $60,000 in the bank. If you invest that money over 15 years in the stock market you may be able to make yourself $150,000. You might even be able to sell your current home and with the profit, buy your next home in cash. (I remember my mother doing this and I thought what a smart decision!) Consult a financial advisor if you want to know exactly how much money you can save by making a move.
- Lower taxes – if you move to a smaller home you’ll have a lower assessment and pay less tax. You can even move to another neighborhood with a lower overall cost of living to save even more money. In my own family, my mom recently went to Tarpon Springs, Florida, one sister to Nashville, Tennessee, my brother to Charlotte, North Carolina, my other sister to Highland Lakes, New Jersey and my best friend went to Highland Mills, New York. That’s a lot of moving but they all made out financially in the process.
- Lower utility bills – besides gas and electric if you pay for a cleaning or landscaping service, you’d also save money on those too.
This is a lifestyle choice. The decision is yours and it’s not for everybody but many people are finding it a whole lot easier mentally, physically and financially to let go of their current home for one that fits them just right. In the 1970’s homes in the United States averaged 1,400 square feet. What’s the size of your house?
Many of our clients complain, “I have too much stuff”. As a society, we need to reduce buying habits, disregard the voracious consumerism and stay rightsized in our own space. When you bring something new into your home, send something out. That’s our motto, “One In, One Out”. If you surround yourself with only the things you love and use life will be a whole lot easier and productive.