What is downsizing?
There’s a clue in the title! Downsizing means selling a larger home and moving to a smaller property. That simple. And while it may sound counterintuitive in our ‘bigger means better’ society, it’s really about finding a space that falls in the Goldilocks zone: Not too big, not too small – just right. What’s right for you may be unthinkable for someone else. It’s all relative and very much subjective. But what’s not in question is that most people have plenty of room to live in a smaller space without cramping their style.
Let’s start with the obvious benefit: Living in a smaller home typically means smaller bills. You’ll have less space to heat, so you should see a benefit in utility costs. Less upkeep means less money spent on maintenance. If you do your research and look into property taxes in the region you’ll be living, you ought to see savings there, too.
Not to mention, selling a larger home and moving yourself into a smaller property can put some cash back in your pocket. That’s easy money you can put to better use than being eaten up by an unnecessarily monstrous home. Add to your retirement savings. Put it towards the kids’ (or grandkids’) college fund. Heck, take that dream cruise you’ve been sitting in your oversized living room talking about for years. A little less home can lead to a lot more life.
Hey, maybe you love nothing more than pushing a lawnmower around for three hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon, or taking on 30 centimetres of snow in your driveway as a warmup to the workday. If so, have at it! (Who are we to judge?!) Then again, maybe a little less yard work and a whole lot more free time would appeal? If so, downsizing could be the key.
Think about it: Do you have more house than you really need? Is it becoming more of a strain than a sanctuary? If you find yourself cleaning rooms you rarely go in and windows you never look through, perhaps it’s time to think smaller. If a ‘weekend’ painting project takes out a month’s worth of free time, maybe fewer walls could lead to less worry. If your oversized home is becoming a cell of chores and maintenance, maybe it’s time to look to a smaller home that will release you to do the things you really love!
If Marie Kondo has taught us anything, it’s that clearing out the clutter can offer amazing benefits for our lives and minds, and there is no better catalyst for a clear-out than moving house – especially if you’re downsizing. Whether you’re up to your chin in ‘collectibles’ or you’re afraid to go into that spare room / garage / basement for fear that this may be the time the towering junk pile might just fall and crush you under the weight of its pointlessness, moving to a smaller space – and the purifying purge it will entail – can be a massively reenergizing exercise.
Yes, there will be things you will want to hold onto no matter what, and that’s okay. Some items hold a sentimental value that makes them priceless only to the holder, and a couple of boxes of untouchable artifacts are always acceptable. But what you’ll also need to do is get real.
Do you really need that wooden kitchen calendar with the weird looking bird poking out the top that once belonged to your Great Aunt Ethel (the one you never met, but who saw fit to betroth it to you in her will. In 1994.) Is it about time to part with that table you bought from a thrift store in college that has been used as everything from a kitchen table to a workbench to a fort for your now-grown kids, that you’re holding onto just because it’s ‘still going strong’? When we have the space to hold onto useless items, it’s easier to make excuses not to part with them. Downsizing can be a great driver for ditching the junk, clearing your physical space and your headspace along with it.
Read the blog post: Downsizing Purge - What NOT To Get Rid Of
Age in Place
That spiral staircase and all-white kitchen cupboards with matching white handles may seem like a great idea now, but are you thinking ahead? Aging in place means having the ability to stay in the home you are building or moving into as you age. When you’re downsizing, it’s most likely because you are getting up in years and looking to simplify your living situation, and it provides a great opportunity to ensure the livability of the home years down the line.
Here are some things to consider when downsizing, to allow for aging in place:
- Accessibility: Will you be able to get around and access all areas of your smaller home should your mobility become compromised later in life? Wider hallways, generous door openings, lever door handles, and easily accessed storage areas are just a few of the things to take into consideration. Such design features not only accommodate aging in place; they also add to the resale value of your home.
- HVAC: Heating, ventilation and air conditioning is an often neglected area of aging-in-place projects. Aging homeowners, or those dealing with physical impediments, may be more affected by temperature and humidity fluctuations in the home. Control panels should be positioned at a height within reach from a wheelchair.
- Lighting and Glare: Good lighting is one of the easiest and most common home improvements. Enhanced illumination makes the home safer and its spaces more useable. It becomes even more important should visual impairments develop over time. Greater lighting intensity and reduced glare make for a safe, more age-proof home.
- Contrasting Colours: Remember those white-on-white kitchen cabinets and handles we mentioned? They might not be so great later in life, when vision quality could be impacted. This becomes even more important in areas of concern for footing, clearance, or other potential dangers. When it comes to aging in place, and choosing colours for your smaller home, contrast is king.
Sure, that three-bedroom suburban home was perfect when filled with the laughter of children, and even worked great during the years it housed door-slamming teens, but now it’s just a big, hollow space, miles from those memories. Empty nests can often be the impetus for a move to a smaller home, but they can also provide the opportunity for a move to a wholly new location.
Maybe those same kids now have kids of their own that you’d like to see more of, but they’re living in a different city or province. Perhaps you long to open your door to sunnier climes or would like to be closer to certain amenities like the golf course or shopping centre. Whatever the incentive, downsizing means affordability, and those savings can open up living locations you may not have previously thought possible.
Weighing the Ups and the Downs
We’ve examined the perks, but it’s important to remember that downsizing shouldn’t be entered into lightly. It’s easy to feel it’s what you ‘should’ do at a certain stage of your life, but you have to be sure it’s the right decision for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting down with downsizing:
- Am I ready to give up the space? Smart, space-saving solutions might make the experience of downsizing a little easier, but the fact is that downsizing by its very nature means moving to a place with less space. There’s no getting around it, only getting on board with it. If your home is your castle; if your house is the hub of social events in the neighbourhood and you have a passion for hosting the masses; if you like playing ping pong, air hockey, or billiards at your whim in the basement, maybe downsizing isn’t for you. On the other hand, if the many benefits outlined in this blog post outweigh the kinds of luxuries that come with a larger home, a little less house could be just the ticket.
- Can I find a compromise? You may not be able to enjoy a botanical garden with a water feature in your backyard, or gaze out on a front lawn that could comfortably accommodate a herd of cattle. But remember, that stuff comes with a whole whack of work and upkeep. What you may find just as rewarding and little easier on the back is some raised beds and a patio space. Your thumbs stay green, your body keeps topped up with vitamin D, and your back gets some much needed relief. You may just have more time to enjoy it, too.
- Will this impact my life positively? Write out a pros and cons list. Do the benefits outweigh the pitfalls? Make sure all impacted family members are on board. And only when you’re ready, make your move to a smaller home.
People who read this post also read:
Top 7 Benefits Of Downsizing
Getting Your House Ready To Sell
Downsizing Purge: 10 Places To Get Started
Top 4 Downsizing Questions Answered
6 Downsizing Tips From The Pros
The Downside Of Downsizing