"I loved my big house, and I thought I would love it forever. I felt guilty about not being happy in it anymore. But I didn't realize that people change with time.” These were the words of a client with whom I spoke about the journey of downsizing a few months ago.
In this conversation, my client pointed out a crucial aspect of home ownership: people's needs change with time and the home you loved while you were raising your family, doesn't necessarily has to be the home you will love when you retire. For me, this process is called rightsizing: finding the home that fits your current needs.
As for when is the time to do so, as Sherry Bronson writes, “There’s only one good answer to the question of when to downsize – before you have to.”
Here are four reasons to consider downsizing:
Not paying for space you don’t use
Chances are your children are grown up and have moved out of the family home. However, you are still paying for those rooms that are not used anymore. Yes, you might have paid off your mortgage, but you are still paying maintenance and property taxes for spaces you don’t need anymore.
Lower living expenses
Related to the above, a big part of retirement planning is having the money to sustain your lifestyle. However, lowering living expenses translates into less money you need to maintain your lifestyle or to allocate those funds to something else like travelling. Some of the expenses to consider are property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance, even car expenses – imagine if you moved to an area where you could walk to the bank or grocery store and use your car less.
Smaller home equals fewer chores
How much time do you spend cleaning your home and maintaining it? You may be using a contractor to do these things, but you still have to coordinate and make sure everything is the way it’s supposed to be. In our talk, my client mentioned the amount of time she spent making sure her house looked the way she wanted it to look. "The work became an effort, and the effort created stress. I wanted to liberate myself from the burden. When you are in an apartment, you realize you don't have to deal with five bathrooms, cleaning companies, landscapers, etc. It wasn't until I was out of the big house that I realized how invested I was in its maintenance,” she pointed out.
Decluttering and letting go of stuff you don't need any more
An acquaintance going through the process of downsizing mentioned that her house, in which she and her family lived for decades, contained far too much stuff. She realized there were a lot of things that “lived” in the house that belonged to her children (who had moved out decades before) and that they didn’t care or need those things anymore. It was time to declutter and purge. Of course, there are meaningful things that will move with you to your new home, but you will be surprised about the amount of stuff that has no connection anymore to you or your family.
If you are considering downsizing, contact me here. Let’s chat about your opportunities in the current real estate market.