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Ready to Downsize?
Benefits to Downsizing Your Home
But first a question, are you and your spouse or even just you ready to downsize? Are you ready to move along the things that won’t fit in your new home to someone or somewhere else? Furniture, art, tools, knick knacks, family heirlooms, etc.? How about less valuable items? Clothing, plethora of kitchen items, misc. odd/ends of things you have no idea what to do with so have stored away in the garage or the dreaded I might use this one day? In addition, so many of us associate life success with a larger more spacious home.
There’s an emotional component to downsizing and cleaning out long held items also needs to be considered. So many of us have a home filled with objects we’ve collected over a lifetime. Trips to far off places, a relative’s gift that you keep because it reminds you of them, collectibles from something or someone you love. This reminds me of the spoon collection my mother-in-law kept and has somehow made its way to my house. We slowly realize that just because I loved collecting ball point pens, that no one else in the family really shares the same zeal for them. So, then what?
Ok so let’s assume that you’ve made peace or plans for all those excess belongings and are finally ready to make the jump into a smaller home. Here are some benefits to finally downsizing.
- Significantly less time maintaining a yard. Mowing, watering, weeding, planting/re-planting can all be a drain on time and to some can be physically taxing. Consider container gardening to still have plants that bloom and grow your vegetables and fruits. Even things like fruit trees can be grown in a container these days.
- Significantly less time cleaning. Ever wonder in amazement at how much time you spend to clean a house or rooms that you rarely if ever use?
- Which makes a 2nd point. How many rooms do you actually use? For lots of older Americans as you age you slowly use less and less of your home until it gets to the point where you use the kitchen, living room/den, 1 bedroom and the bathroom. Gone for most are the days when you had kids (and their friends) in the house, entertained on regular basis or were in the family holiday rotation, and had guests who would come stay.
- Perhaps you have a 2-story home and getting up and down the stairs has become physically difficult or impossible? I know countless people who either dread the day they can’t readily go upstairs or already can’t. When you can’t this can become a real issue. Maybe you have enough ability to make it down and back up once a day. So, you come down in the morning and back up at bedtime. You need to plan all that you may need during the day, so you bring that down with you, otherwise as is the case with people I know you simply go without because it’s just too difficult to get up the stairs.
- Your children or family live farther away than you’d like or farther away than is reasonable if there is an emergency where they need to get to you. Let’s face it, in LA/OC even being close by mileage can be meaningless in certain areas because of the constant traffic making a 20-mile drive take an hour or greater.
- Are the monthly utility bills killing you? Trying to heat/cool a whole 2000sq ft house can become quite expensive. Watering a large yard that you don’t really use can also put quite a dent in your monthly outlay.
- Have you considered repairs? Need a new roof? Water heater? HVAC unit? How about if something goes really wrong and you have a water leak? Even if you hopefully catch it quickly can lead to a very costly repair bill because water quickly damages the floors and walls. How much more expensive is that in your 2000sq ft home vs a smaller 900sq ft home? Likely a lot. Same goes for the HVAC, how much more does it cost to replace a furnace or AC unit on a smaller home vs. the larger one? Again, a lot!
I think these are all strong points for downsizing, but this is not a bulletproof idea because for some people the financial implications just might not be worth it. Sometimes the financial gains can be small or not all, but you do still benefit from a more relaxed lifestyle giving you more time to go do whatever you’d like instead of what you must. You should also consider the costs involved with selling. Putting aside realtor costs, there’s also potential repair costs. To get top dollar for your home todays buyers will often ask that repairs be made. If you’ve been deferring maintenance on certain things now is when that finally needs to be addressed.
While it’s not for everyone, most people can benefit from downsizing. Making a pro/con list along with running the numbers with a real estate professional can go a long in determining if downsizing is for you.
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