Maybe you and your spouse are empty nesters; maybe you need to scale back your living situation to get ahead on finances; maybe where you live no longer fits your lifestyle needs and you need a fresh start. Regardless of your situation, you may need to downsize your living situation at some point. It is a very common practice. However, there are some common pitfalls to be aware of we quite often. Here are 5 of these pitfalls and tips to avoid them.
Set clear goals for your downsize
As with any real estate transaction, it is imperative to have goals before you start. With a plan in mind, it is easier to take action. Start with your reasons for moving, as we mentioned above:
- Get ahead of finances and debt
- Save money for/during retirement
- Reduce maintenance and upkeep
- Small or no mortgage payments
- Wanting to live somewhere new
From there, consider your current situation and desired timeline for moving. From there the rest of the items on this list will fall into place.
Carefully consider your lifestyle
After determining the big reasons for why you want to downsize, consider the lifestyle you want to live—where you are now and if it suits your needs vs what you desire for the future.
- Maybe you want the low maintenance, single-level living in a 55+ community.
- Live on or near a golf course to improve your short game any time and have an extended, always manicured backyard.
- Have a pool in the backyard for entertaining friends, neighbors, kids, and grandkids.
- Live in a newly-built house so maintenance is virtually non-existent and energy bills are lower.
- Are you looking for privacy and to get away from the urban hustle and bustle? A gated community or foothills property may fit the bill.
Be mindful of hidden costs
While downsizing is often done in the name of saving money, beware of extra costs that may come with your new downsized home, such as HOA dues, needed repairs, higher property taxes, or moving to a more expensive market altogether.
Moving is expensive and is an added cost on top of buying a new house. There is the cost of renting a moving van or trailer to haul your belongings, plus the time investment of loading, moving, and unloading all of your things. There is also the added cost of pizza, sandwiches, and drinks for you and those helping you to move. They are the official moving foods, after all. You could also opt for hiring a moving company to save you time and energy for packing, moving, and unpacking.
There is always the pre-packing ritual of deciding what to keep and what to give away. When you make your moving plans and set your goals, it is also beneficial to set a schedule for sorting through your belongings. If you have been living in the same house for a long time, you have accumulated a lot of stuff. Since you are planning on moving to a smaller home, you will have to get rid of things before you move. YOu don’t want to get into your new home and realize you have nowhere to put your extra stuff.
Decluttering in a mad dash is stressful. Give yourself time to go through everything one cabinet and closet at a time. Try focusing on one room for a few days or even a week and you will be decluttered in no time. See what family members might want to take, then try to sell, donate, or recycle what’s left. Decluttering also applies to furniture. Your smaller home may have one less bedroom, so get rid of that extra bed and furnishings. Your new living room may be too cramped for that large sectional couch and two chairs. See what you can sell and put the proceeds towards new furniture that can fit in your new space.
Don’t skimp on storage
At the same time you are looking at what you do and do not need, consider the amount of storage you may need. Renting a storage unit is a viable option for things you want to keep or only use on a seasonal basis. Getting winter clothes, holiday decorations, summer toys, or old family possessions you just can’t bear to get rid of out of the home and into a separate, secure location is a great way to keep you new home decluttered as well.