But don’t forget that there is a flip side to every choice in life. With life-altering decisions come emotional and practical challenges that merit consideration. Here are a few of the more difficult aspect of downsizing that you might want to think about before you take the plunge.
1. Change is hard
Your house is more than just the place you lay your head at night; it’s a place where you’ve made cherished memories over the years. It can be emotionally difficult to let go of the home where your children grew up, or where you spent happy times with loved ones and friends. Moving out of a familiar area can also pose challenges, especially if you’ve developed lasting friendships with your neighbours. It takes more effort to maintain these relationships when you’re no longer just next door. Plus, there are no guarantees that you’ll be kindred spirits with the folks in your community.
2. Less space for guests
For people who enjoy entertaining, it can be hard to give up the large, comfy spaces that make it possible to host large group of friends and family for holiday gatherings and special occasions. Depending how small you go, even simpler social gatherings might become a strain. You may also lose the ability to have out-of-town guests stay, or to be able to offer adult children a place to return home to if need be. (Though for many downsizers, that’s more likely a “pro” than a “con”!)
3. Increased clutter
Small spaces get cluttered more easily and a smaller home simply won’t have the room to store years of accumulated possessions. Many of those possessions will have sentimental value, so you need to ask yourself if you’re actually prepared to part with your grandmother’s bone china or your great-uncle’s taxidermy collection. There’s also a good chance that furnishings that fit perfectly in your house will have to be culled and replaced in order to fit in a condo or apartment. Depending on what your hobbies are, storage space can be an issue. Will a smaller home have room for your kayaks, bikes, or surf boards? Will you be lost without a workshop or garage space?
4. Commotion considerations
Downsizing often means moving from a multi-level home into a single-floor layout. It’s hard to get away by yourself in a small space, and harder to maintain harmony with your partner. You could say that larger houses provide a relationship buffer zone. For instance, in a small space when one partner wants to watch television and the other wants peace and quiet, noise becomes a divisive issue. And for many people, a yard and garden offer a quiet refuge, but moving into an apartment or condo may also mean the loss of outdoor space.
5. Financial implications
While downsizing often means you’ll save money in the long term, there can be increased costs at the start. Make sure to include moving costs, real estate fees and closing fees in your monetary forecasts. Take into considering one-time costs like new, smaller-scale furniture, and ongoing expenses such as condo fees. Crunching the numbers is an important step towards making the right decision on whether or not to move.
Still wondering if you should take the leap or stay put? There’s no question that wrestling with the idea of downsizing requires you to carefully weigh both the pros and cons. Just remember that situations change with time. Taking stock of your needs and lifestyle is helpful in every stage of life. If you decide not to downsize right now, it can still be worthwhile to revisit the idea at a later date.
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