“Downsizing” is a relatively new term that describes the tried-and-true concept of going smaller. There’s nothing new about recent empty-nesters selling their spacious suburban house and relocating to an easy-to-care-for in-town downtown loft once the kids are living on their own. This is not to say that everyone who downsizes is middle-aged, retired, or even a parent. All sorts of people downsize, and they do so for a whole range of very good reasons.
Is going smaller right for you?
The motivations behind homeowners who sell their big house and move into less spacious living quarters are as varied as the persons who opt to live smaller. Mature folks who currently reside in a two-story home with too many bedrooms may rejoice at the idea of switching to a smaller, single level house. To families with teenagers, features such as a big backyard playground and cavernous basement rumpus room may not be as attractive as living smaller and closer to the cultural excitement and employment opportunities of an urban area.
Younger people who choose to downsize their living situation often do so because they are inclined to travel more. Think about it. If you’ve got a big suburban home and yard, you might need to hire someone to come house-sit when you leave town for a long vacation. This is especially true for homeowners with houseplants, lawns, and pets. Condo dwellers, on the other hand, may be able to rely on a trusted neighbor to take five minutes out of their day to bring in the mail and feed the cat. Smaller homes that are close together may also offer more inherent security than a big house that stands alone. The nearer a neighbor, the more likely they will notice a break in or other unauthorized activity while you’re away.
Downsizing can put more retirement money in your pocket.
Steven Sass directs the Center for Retirement Research program at Boston College. In an interview with Bankrate magazine, Sass noted that retirees who are looking for ways to shave expenses and live better on a fixed income should consider moving to a smaller residence.
“Our sense is that people who are retiring and are financially strapped should think hard about downsizing as a way to improve their income and cut their expenses.”
Sass went on to explain that a retired couple who sells a $350,000 home and buys a house that costs only $250,000 could conceivably put the profits into an interest-bearing savings account to earn money without any effort. Alternately, the couple could use a portion of the profit –or even all of it– to make a substantial down payment on a new place, thereby lowering their mortgage payments exponentially.
Not all smaller homes come with smaller tax bills, but when they do, that happy fact can put ‘extra’ money into a couples’ pockets, too.
Downsizing as a way to reduce expenses
For most Texans, housing is their number one expense. We shell out more for our mortgages than we do for food, clothing, and entertainment combined. Opting to move into a smaller space usually means a big reduction in total housing expenses. Add up those savings over the course of a year, and that can amount to a pretty penny indeed. In addition to lowering monthly mortgage payments, downsizing to a smaller home typically leads to lower energy costs. Smaller house = less space to heat and cool.
House owners are generally responsible for every little thing that goes wrong with their residence. People who own condominiums, on the other hand, enjoy the benefits of home ownership but may have a maintenance supervisor they can call on when a pipe breaks or a roof leaks. Condo living usually comes with attractive common areas that are attended to by professional landscapers that are paid for by the homeowners association. You might not have the option of planting prized begonias in your backyard, but you’ll never have to mow a lawn, either.
Downsizing to counter consumerism and protect the planet
Some people choose to live smaller as a way to do their part to protect the environment. Since it costs less to control the climate in a smaller home, typical downsizers reduce their ‘carbon footprint’ in a significant way. Smaller spaces require less human energy to clean and maintain, as well. Every time a person vacuums a few hundred feet of the floor instead of a few thousand, less electricity is used. This sort of savings may seem insignificant, but again, small savings do eventually add up.
Downsizing is a great way to counteract consumerism. The more rooms a person has, the more they may feel a need to fill them. It’s just human nature. People who adopt the smaller-is-better lifestyle have a tendency to be more selective about the stuff they buy.
So, you’ve decided to downsize: Tips to simplify the process
Lighten your load
It seems that the longer humans live in a place, the more stuff they accumulate. Over the course of a decade or so spent in the same home, people tend to collect everything from furniture to appliances and electronics to knick-knacks. If you intend to downsize from, say, a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom condo, you may need to reduce your belongings by half or more. Can you do that? Unless you want to feel overcrowded in your newer, smaller space, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen.
Go through your closets and get rid of anything that hasn’t been worn in a year. One exception may be formal wear that you want to keep for ultra special occasions. Donate the rest to a homeless shelter or give garments away to your friends.
Go through your kitchen cabinets do away with duplicates. There’s no good reason to move into a smaller house with three toasters and two blenders. Don’t deprive yourself, though. Keep the things you love and the things you use daily. Discard or donate things that are broken, outdated, or impossible to use.
Be prepared to downsize your furniture, too. A five-piece sectional sofa may have been a perfect fit for your very big living room. In your newer, smaller digs, a pair of upholstered loveseats may be more suitable to the compact lifestyle.
Organize, organize, organize
Small-house living has been compared to life aboard a yacht. As long as there is a place for everything, and everything is kept in its place, living in smaller quarters can be quite charming. Closet organizers, labeled containers, and shelving systems will go a long way toward keeping your new home ship-shape and comfortable.
Find a smaller home that fits your lifestyle perfectly
My name is Cyndi Alvarez, and I’d love to help you sell your too-big house and find a smaller home that’s just right for you. When you’re ready to talk about downsizing in Austin, Pflugerville, Dripping Springs, San Marcos, Kyle/Buda, San Antonio, the Hill Country and surrounding area, give me a call at (512)762-5211 or call me toll-free at (855)755-5888.
Future Appointments/Phone calls may be scheduled at: http://calendly.com/cyndi-texasrealtor