fbpx

Downsizing Your Home: Unlocking the Benefits of a Simplified Living Space

Downsizing your homeThere may come a time when downsizing your home may be the right choice for you. Often, downsizing comes on someone’s radar as they age, the kids move on, or retirement is around the corner.  But others might consider downsizing to simplify their lives.  It’s not only reserved for folks with a significant lifestyle change as they age.  It is for anyone looking to minimize belongings and finances and want to streamline their lifestyle.

Downsizing doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort or style. It allows you to create a space tailored to your needs and preferences. You’ll free up valuable physical and mental space by decluttering and letting go of unnecessary possessions. A smaller home means less time spent on cleaning and maintenance, giving you more freedom to focus on what truly matters to you.

But downsizing is not just about minimizing physical belongings. It’s an opportunity to reassess your priorities and simplify your life. It can reduce financial stress, as smaller homes often have lower mortgage payments, utility bills, and property taxes. Additionally, downsizing encourages a more sustainable lifestyle, promoting conscious consumption and minimizing carbon footprint.

The article focuses on downsizing as we head into a later chapter in life as one considers retirement or has retired. Still, many of the principles apply to anyone wanting to simplify.

Jump To A Section....

The Concept of Downsizing

Downsizing doesn’t need to be about giving up. It allows you to create a space tailored to your needs and preferences and minimize things that may no longer be important to you.

By de-cluttering you’ll free up valuable physical and mental space by decluttering and letting go of unnecessary possessions. A smaller home means less time spent on cleaning and maintenance, giving you more freedom to focus on what truly matters to you.

7 Reasons It May Be Time To Downsize

Retirement

With retirement comes a change in income and often a desire for a simpler lifestyle.  A smaller home can provide financial benefits. Selling a larger home and buying a smaller one can mean extra proceeds to help fund your retirement years. It can also mean spending less on maintenance and utility costs.

Retirement can also mean a lifestyle change.  You no longer need to be in commuting distance to work, and there may be things in life you wanted to do, and now you have the extra time.

Your familial home of many years may not fit into your new lifestyle.

Empty Nest

Once children move out and live a life of their own, a large home may no longer be necessary. A large house can be burdensome. Downsizing can help parents find a more suitable space for their future needs.

Why maintain and pay for space that goes unused?  What will you do with those four extra bedrooms and the large lower-level family room?

Financial Benefits

Selling a larger home and buying a house that is smaller can free up equity that was tied up in the property. This can provide a financial cushion or extra money for travel, hobbies, or investing as you wind down your working career or retire.

Additionally, a smaller home will require less money to maintain, and you should also see cheaper utility bills.

Here in the greater Boston area, we live in one of the least affordable areas in the country. A new, more affordable location may free up more of your income if you are headed into retirement or just looking to minimize.

Maintenance Efforts

A smaller home is generally easier and less time-consuming to clean and maintain. For those looking to reduce the physical and financial burdens of upkeep, downsizing can be a practical solution.

Think about what a small 5000 sq ft yard vs your acre lot can do for your free time.  And with a smaller size comes a smaller cash outlay for taking care of a new home.  Also, a smaller home will also mean less utility costs.

Lifestyle Change

Downsizing can also mean a lifestyle change.  A smaller home with less upkeep means more time for the things you love.

It can also mean an entirely new location.  Being an empty nester or retiree means you no longer have to live in the suburbs within commuting distance to work.  Maybe a more urban setting where you can walk to get a cup of coffee or one of your favorite restaurants is an attractive option.

I know in my market area, I have seen a lot of retirees looking to move into a loft in Lowell and be at the center of Lowell’s Cultural and Historic District.  

Health Reasons

As people age, they may face health issues that make living in a large home impractical or unsafe. Downsizing to a one-story home or a property with less upkeep can make daily life easier and safer. A first-floor primary suite is an attractive option for as one ages.

But downsizing and moving to a location closer to family and health care where you can receive assistance in the future.  Aging in place is a trending option where one adapts their living space and community to provide a safe place as one ages.

And plenty of studies show that aging in one’s home provides many benefits.

Community Amenities

Moving to a smaller home in a planned community or condo can provide access to amenities and social opportunities that weren’t available in your previous living situation. These amenities might include fitness centers, pools, community gatherings, and maintenance services, enhancing your quality of life without the added personal responsibility for upkeep.

Over 55 communities are becoming popular options as they provide neighbors at a similar point in their lives with common interests and an active social scene.

Simplifying Life

A growing desire to simplify life and reduce possessions can lead to the decision to downsize. Living in a smaller space encourages a minimalist lifestyle, helping to focus on experiences and activities that bring joy and fulfillment rather than material possessions.

This simplification can lead to a more organized, less stressful living environment. And it could help fatten the wallet along the way.

Search homes with first floor primary bedroom in Massachusetts.

Reasons NOT To Downsize Your Home

Choosing not to downsize your home can be as significant as deciding to downsize. Here are eight reasons why you might choose not to downsize your home:

  • Family and Friends: If your home is the hub for family gatherings, celebrations, and a place where friends congregate, downsizing might limit your ability to host such events, affecting your social life and family traditions.
  • Space for Hobbies and Projects: Larger homes can accommodate spaces for hobbies, crafts, workshops, or home offices. If you’re passionate about activities that require space, a smaller home might not meet your needs.
  • Future Family Growth: Anticipating future changes, such as adult children returning home, the arrival of grandchildren, or the need to care for aging relatives, might necessitate keeping the extra space.
  • Cost of Moving: Selling a home, buying another, and moving can be expensive and stressful. The costs associated with real estate transactions, moving services, and home renovations might outweigh the financial benefits of downsizing.
  • Emotional Attachment: Emotional ties to a family home filled with memories can make leaving it hard. For some, the sentimental value of a house is irreplaceable and a compelling reason to stay.
  • Neighborhood and Community: Strong connections to your neighborhood, including friends, favorite shops, and community involvement, can make leaving undesirable, especially if downsizing means moving to a new area.
  • Work from Home: With more people working remotely, having extra space for a dedicated home office or workspace has become a necessity rather than a luxury.
  • Outdoor Activities: If you enjoy gardening or landscaping or have pets that benefit from a larger yard, downsizing could mean giving up these pleasures and conveniences.

While downsizing can offer several benefits, it’s not the right choice for everyone. These reasons highlight the importance of carefully evaluating your personal, family, and financial situation before downsizing your home.

Downsizing a home is about minimizing and simplifying.

Challenges of Downsizing

Downsizing your home can offer many benefits, including reduced living expenses and less maintenance. However, it also comes with its set of challenges. Here are some of the main challenges associated with downsizing to be aware of:

  1. Emotional Attachment: Leaving a home full of memories can be emotionally challenging. Letting go of a place with significant emotional value to you and your family can be more complex than anticipated.
  2. Sorting and Decluttering: Deciding what to keep, sell, donate, or throw away can be daunting and time-consuming. Sorting through years or decades of possessions requires making tough decisions and can be emotionally taxing.
  3. Space Limitations: Adjusting to a smaller living space means you’ll have less room for your belongings. This can be particularly challenging if you’re downsizing from a large home to a significantly smaller one, as it may require giving up items you’re used to having around.
  4. Lifestyle Adjustments: You may need to change your lifestyle to fit into a smaller space. This could mean hosting fewer large gatherings, finding new places for hobbies, or adjusting to a new neighborhood or community.
  5. Finding the Right Place: Identifying a smaller home that meets your needs and preferences, including location, accessibility, and amenities, can be challenging, especially in competitive real estate markets.
  6. Loss of Personal Space: In a smaller home, individuals may feel they have less personal space, which can be an adjustment for families used to having more room to spread out.
  7. Adjusting to New Communities: If downsizing involves moving to a new area, integrating into a new community and establishing new routines can take time and effort.
  8. Reduced Hosting Capabilities: If you enjoy entertaining, a smaller space may limit your ability to host events, dinners, and overnight guests as you did before.
  9. Logistical Complexities: Moving—packing, hiring movers, and setting up your new home—can be stressful and physically demanding, especially if downsizing significantly reduces your living space.

Despite these challenges, many find that the benefits of downsizing outweigh the difficulties, leading to a simpler, more manageable lifestyle. And knowing the challenges upfront can help you slowly make the adjustments you need to make.

packing up to downsize a home

Tips To Downsize Your Home

Downsizing can seem like a daunting task.  But with a few simple tips, you can streamline the downsizing process.

Start Early

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Often, homeowners know well in advance that downsizing their home is in the future.  Sometimes, even years.

As soon as you have a clue you’re going to be downsizing in the future, start the many steps involved.  It prevents chaos and frenzy and gives you time to step back before you burn your self out.

Take Your Time

Unless downsizing is urgent, time is your friend.  You don’t want to rush the process and wear yourself out. it is a big task.  The worst thing is to rush and make decisions or missteps when downsizing.

Assess Your Financial Situation

Sitting down and taking stock of your finances is an essential step.

  1. Evaluate your current expenses: Start by closely examining your current expenses. This includes your mortgage or rent, utility bills, insurance, and other regular payments. Determine how much you spend on housing and how much you can comfortably allocate towards a smaller home.
  2. Define your goals: Everyone will have different needs. Write down what you are trying to achieve. For many, it might be financial. But there could be other reasons like relocating, being closer to family, simplifying, getting a home that is more conducive to age in place, becoming part of a community, or more…
  3. Talk to your financial advisor: Include your financial advisor in your decision to downsize and how it may fit into your overall financial goals.
  4. Consider additional costs: Downsizing can come with extra costs, such as moving expenses, home renovations, and furniture purchases. Take these into account when creating your budget.
  5. Financing Your Move: If you intend to finance the purchase of your new home, now is the time to explore your mortgage options, including purchasing with a reverse mortgage. Know what is available even if you owe no or very little money on your current home. Because the market is such a seller’s market, you may want to consider bridge financing or a home equity line of credit to compete with buyers who don’t have a house to sell.

Creating a budget will help you decide about downsizing and ensure you can comfortably afford your new living space. It will also give you a clear picture of the financial benefits that come with downsizing.

Research Your Next Location

Often, downsizing includes moving to a new community.  You may know where you want to go, but you may not. Research potential communities where you would like to live.  It could be a new town or a specific condominium complex.

Making the right move will be critical to your long-term happiness.  If you want to move to an unfamiliar town, visit and see if it aligns with your expectations.  It’s a great time to research health care, area amenities that interest you, shopping and more.

Explore Housing Options

Once you have identified a community or communities you want to relocate to, consider housing options that suit your needs and financial circumstances.

If you are visiting an area for a few days, don’t be afraid to visit local open houses, or if a particular home interests you, call a local REALTOR for a tour.

Do A Broad Sweep Decluttering

Before moving on to the next step, do a broad sweep and quick de-cluttering.  Go through each room quickly and gather the magazines, newspapers, books, meaningless knick-knacks you have accumulated, and six pairs of reading glasses by the bed… And, put items in their proper place. 

Just tackle the wicked obvious, like you had company coming over and wanted to spruce up the house.  This will make moving into the next step a little easier.

Take Stock

Now, it’s time to take stock of your inventory. Living in one home for many years also means you have accumulated a lot of belongings.  And, if you are anything like me, much of it is sitting around unused.

Break items down into several categories:

  1. Keeping: You know you are taking these belongings to your new home. Eventually, get your home paired down to just these items. Even if you are keeping items that doesn’t mean they can’t be packed away if they are possessions you don’t need while you are in the process.
  2. Giving away: You may have items perfect for someone to use but have no value. It could be belongings of your kids from their childhood they may want (or use you for storage). Maybe it is excess furniture, kitchen equipment, tools or lawn equipment.
  3. Selling: You may have items worth money and can sell them at a yard sale, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay.
  4. Donate: Items that are still useful that no one you know wants or are not worth the hassle of selling can be donated, plus you could get a tax deduction. Find local charities like local churches, the Goodwill Store, or The Salvation Army. Some charities may even pick up items to help lighten your load.
  5. Long-term storage: You may have items that are hard to part with. Putting them in long-term storage near your new home will leave them accessible to you but won’t clutter up your new home.
  6. Trash: Finally, you’ll have possessions you or no one else wants that are not worth anything. You could get a small dumpster for a week or hire someone to do the trash out. 

Digitize Your Paperwork

Many folks have a ton of paperwork lying around their homes. Digitizing it can be a great way to downsize. Digitization is a great way to stay organized and reduce clutter moving forward.

If you have a lot of paperwork, consider buying a good scanner.  But you can also use your phone or an all-in-one printer.  Electronic files can be stored on your computer and backed up to the cloud with a solution like Microsoft One Drive or Google Drive.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself When Downsizing

Work methodically and tackle one room, one closet at a time.  Don’t jump all over the place. Finish the space you start before you move on.

If possible, find a staging area like a garage, an extra room or two you are not using, or space in your basement. It may be tough to move heavier, more oversized items, but box up smaller items and mark where that box is going and what you may find in that box. If you leave items in place, tag them with who will get them or where they are going. 

Packing Tip: Over the years, I have found that buying the same-sized packing boxes at Uhaul has been extremely helpful. I usually get a mix of medium and small boxes.  Using boxes that are the same size and meant for packing makes it easy to pack and stack them. 

Tips To Styling Your New, Smaller Home When Downsizing

If you are making a significant change in size from your old home to your new home, you’ll have to make some adjustments in how you design your new space.

Get Rid Of Bulky Furniture

The 108-inch upholstered sectional in your 20×24 family room does not cut it in your new living room.  Consider replacing your bulky furniture with sleeker modern pieces.

Furniture that is open at the bottom will give a sense of space.  Avoid oversized and overstuffed cushions.  You don’t have to give up comfort. Make smart choices for the space.

Use Multi-Use Furniture

Ottomans and coffee tables with closed storage are a great way to get additional storage. Beds with storage underneath are another great way to earn some extra storage in a bedroom.  Any furniture with some closed or hidden storage is an excellent way to go.

Need a home office but want to offer an occasional guest a place to stay? Consider a Murphy bed, which is stored out of the way most of the time but can convert the space into sleeping quarters. 

Decorative stacked storage boxes can make some great décor but can hide away rarely used items.

Think Vertical

Utilize wall shelving, built-ins and bookcases with some height.  Take advantage of that vertical space.

Decorate With Neutral Colors and Textures

Decorating with neutral colors and textures is a great way to open up spaces.  A neutral, natural fiber carpet can replace heavily patterned Orientals to give a sense of airiness.

If you still want color use color in throw pillows and accent pieces to help give your new space some personality.

Don’t Overcrowd

Choose each piece sparingly and don’t overcrowd.  Leave visual space around each piece you choose.

Large Mirrors

Large, well-placed mirrors that allow a view to go into another room or out a window can give your space a much larger feel.

Mirrors can also go on closet doors to get it out of the way and off the floor.  A standing floor mirror can be a decorative and functional accent if you have the space.

Don’t Forget the Closets

Some additional shelving or hanging organizers can go a long way in creating some extra space in closets. I love to put a shorter extra shelf on the top of closets to store long-term, rarely-used items.

Downsizing doesn’t mean you have to give up style or comfort, but it does require a slight change in what you are used to.  Seek out the right multi-use furniture and scale your living spaces properly.

A Recent Client And Their Downsizing Journey

I recently finished with a couple I helped downsize their home and find a new one. 

They had a large family home they had built 30 years ago but realized it was not serving their changing needs but it was a large property requiring a lot of maintenance.  Which was one of their biggest complaints.

One had less than a year to retire and the other had already been retired for a few years.  We went through much of what I have written in this article.  From planning to implementing a plan to figuring out what to do with all their belongings…  They had 30 years of possessions to be sorted through to downsize into a home almost half the size.  It took time!

They wanted to stay in the area because of a daughter living locally.  They had come to me, already identifying they wanted to live in an over-55 community. The idea of being in an active adult community was intriguing to them.

We found the right home and they moved in.

I talked to them a few months later and asked how the move was for them.  They loved the lack of ongoing maintenance that a single-family home required versus living in a planned community with an HOA that takes care of much of the maintenance.

They had more time to focus on family, traveling and the things they love.

Conclusion: Embracing the Benefits of Downsizing

Downsizing your home offers numerous benefits, from reducing financial stress to promoting a more sustainable lifestyle.

By decluttering, organizing, and maximizing your space, you can create a functional and stylish living environment that aligns with your values and priorities. Embrace the concept of downsizing and unlock the benefits of a simplified living space.

 Whether you’re a minimalist at heart, an empty nester or a retiree seeking a more efficient lifestyle, downsizing could be the game-changer you’ve been waiting for. So, take the leap and embark on your downsizing journey today!

Other Real Estate Resources:

  • Sometimes moving means making a long distance move.  And that move may include transporting your automobiles.  Michelle Gibson provides 5 tips for moving your vehicles long distance, starting with choosing the right transportation company.
  • With interest rates having a drastic increase lately, considering an Adjustable Rate Mortgage may be an option to consider lowering your monthly mortgage payment.  Bill Gassett provides all the information you need to consider an adjustable rate mortgage.
  • This summer, here in New England, it has been pretty  darn hot!!  Paul Sian helps us stay cool this summer with his article on How To Keep Your Home Cool.
  • Alex Capozzolo provides a few tips to make your move a success.

Real Estate Services in the following areas: Northeast Massachusetts, Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Metrowest. Including the following communities and the surrounding areas- Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Dracut, Groveland, Haverhill, Lowell, Melrose, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Wakefield, Wilmington, Westford

Massachusetts Real Estate Blog author and owner. Kevin Vitali- Massachusetts Real Estate

Author Bio

Kevin Vitali is a Massachusetts REALTOR that serves Essex County and Northern Middlesex County in Massachusetts. If you want to buy or sell a home, let me use my years of experience to get you the best possible outcome.
 

Call 978-360-0422     Email kevin@kevinvitali.com

Let me help you make your next move. From the decision-making process to the implementation to moving you into a new home, I am here to help.

Real Estate Services in the following areas: Northeast Massachusetts, Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Metrowest. Including the following communities and the surrounding areas- Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Dracut, Groveland, Haverhill, Lowell, Melrose, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Wakefield, Wilmington, Westford