The kids have moved out of the family home and retirement may be on the horizon, so looking at the possibility of moving into a more compact living arrangement is only natural. Lower maintenance costs, fewer rooms to clean and financial freedom has its advantages, but think through what downsizing looks like before deciding if it’s right for you.
As Canadians, a massive chunk of our personal money is tied up in property – it’s the largest purchase of our lives but it also holds the highest potential resale value. Selling a larger home to move into a smaller one can free up finances to make retirement a reality, help a child with their own home deposit, or just give you a nice cash cushion. You need to decide if the hassles involved with downsizing are worth the financial gains.
If you’re reading this, you probably take a lot of pride in your home and garden. You like living in a comfortable environment that reflects who you are – and sharing it with friends and neighbours. Many people may see downsizing as “downgrading,” trading in a prestige property for a lesser version of what they had. Are you your house or can you separate the two and see yourself happy in a smaller space?
Fewer rooms means fewer hours spent sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, dusting, rearranging, fixing, painting, washing and worrying. The relief of alleviating housework and home maintenance in itself could be enough motivation to move, but take it a step further and imagine what you could do with all that extra time. Think about how you’d like to spend those hours instead and see if you get excited about the possibilities – if you do, it might be time to go small.
Be Our Guests
Having multiple unoccupied rooms to accommodate visiting family and guests (or other activities such as crafting, fitness pursuits or simply storage) can be very important to some people, especially those from an older generation who are not used to the now-common compact condo way of living. How much value do you place on these current underused rooms? In a downsized home, could you use strategic space savers such as a murphy bed or book a neighbouring rental as an accommodation alternative?
Friends with Health Benefits
Rambling around in a big ole house can be a lonely business. Isolation has been proven as one of the biggest health risks as we age – not only to our mental health but also our physical health (do you remember the TV ad line “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”). Downsizing to a neighbourhood that encourages social interaction either through design or demographics is a health-smart move. (Or maybe there’s a way to rent out those unoccupied rooms?)
Demand and Supply
Take a good look at the available real estate to figure out if the type of downsized dwelling you’re dreaming of really exists in your area. Vancouver is the third most expensive place to buy a home in the world and Toronto’s median home prices grew 19 per cent in 2016, making it the fastest growing real-estate market on the planet. On one hand, you can potentially cash in, but on the other hand what you want to buy (i.e. a bargain) may not be available. Looking outside your neighbourhood, town or even city may need to be on the table too, to get you the most bang for your buck.
Packing up a house is stressful on the best of days but when the final destination is much smaller than your current home, that process can quickly turn to panic. Are you ready to let go of a percentage of your possessions to live in less square footage? Thinking through where furniture and household items will fit in the new space will give you a realistic idea of what can come – and what can’t. Saying goodbye to once-beloved objects can be hard but sometimes it’s time to pass stuff along – either to a relative, a family in need or a local charity – and try life on a smaller scale. There are a lot of pros and cons to weigh when contemplating a downsize, so take your time and have a hard look at what really matters to you. Reassessing how you live and how it can be improved is never a waste of time.
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