Downsizing your home to fit your lifestyle
With the growing population of “empty nesters” – couples whose grown children have left home – many are contemplating moving to a smaller home. “Downsizing” can simplify a couple’s life by reducing the upkeep and maintenance a larger home requires. It can be a smart financial decision as well, reducing your expenditures on your mortgage payment, utility bills and maintenance. But moving can be difficult emotionally, both for the empty nesters and often their children, who associate so many special memories with their childhood home.
If you sell your home and use the profit to buy a smaller and less expensive house, you can use the leftover money to bolster your retirement or help you pay down debt. Downsizing has other benefits beside financial ones. With less home maintenance, you have the opportunity to enjoy old hobbies or explore new ones. You will have more free time to reconnect with your spouse. If you’re downsizing to a senior property, you’ll be able to relax more without worrying about home maintenance, and you’ll be able to take advantage of many of the facility’s social and cultural offerings.
Once you’ve made the decision to move, you have to begin the process of going through your belongings. Chances are, the contents of your 3,000 square foot colonial won’t fit in your 55-and-better condo. Downsize your possessions before you move – don’t take too much with you that you won’t have space for. Don’t spend money moving furniture or other belongings that you really don’t need or might not even have room for.
Tackle the easier stuff first – identify belongings that you are ready and willing to get rid of. Ask family members if they’re interested in any of the items. Plan a yard sale if you want sell some items. Then look at charitable organizations that will pick up your items, or advertise them on an internet site such as Freecycle.
The more difficult part comes when faced with the decision of giving up possessions that hold sentimental value or items that you’ve come to enjoy. You may have a 50” plasma TV in your rec room, but do you really need such a large unit in your smaller den? Your daughter’s childhood six-piece bedroom set that’s been in your guest bedroom – will it fit in your new home or could a futon or sleeper sofa fill the same need?
If you have children or other family members that live close, enlist their help. If not, or if you could use additional assistance, you can always look to pros. Moving companies, real estate agents, interior space designers, and custom closet organizers can all be invaluable in helping make the transition to a smaller space smoother.
Making the decision to downsize is a scary but exciting prospect. Approached in a positive frame of mind, you can look to the future with less clutter, less maintenance, and more free time. A new beginning!
This is the first in a two-part series on how empty nesters can downsize their home and simplify their lives. Part Two will address adapting to a smaller home.