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5 Things to Consider Before Downsizing, According to Scott McGillivray

5 Things to Consider Before Downsizing, According to Scott McGillivray

Scott McGillivray is a real estate expert and host of HGTV Canada’s Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays.

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When it comes to houses, bigger is not always better, especially if you’re an empty nester or you’re looking for a lifestyle change. If you’ve decided to downsize – for whatever reason – there are a lot of things you need to think about before you make a move.


Reasons for Downsizing

There are many reasons why you might decide to downsize and move into a smaller home. It could be that the kids have moved out and you don’t need the space anymore, you might desire a lifestyle change and not want to deal with the maintenance of a larger home or it could be for financial reasons. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand why you’re downsizing so you can figure out what you need from your new space.

Related: What to Fix and What to Forget When Downsizing

Assess Your Needs
Before you settle on a new home, you’ve got to figure out what’s important to you and perhaps more importantly, what you can do without. The best way to start is to make a list of the best and worst features of your present home. Do you love your big family-style kitchen? Will you miss it if you move to a tiny condo? What about the backyard? If outdoor entertaining is important to you, a small bungalow with a yard might be a better option than a condo. And what about pets? If you have a dog who needs walking, think about outdoor accessibility. While compromises will always have to be made, there’s no point in moving to a place that lacks the things you love and need.

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Decide on a Location
It may seem like a no-brainer, but think long and hard about where you want to live before pulling the plug on your current home, especially if you’re moving for financial reasons. While moving from a large home to a small house or condo may seem more cost effective, it might not be the case. Cutting the square footage might not save you money if you’re moving into a more desirable area. Often, downtown condos can cost as much or more as large houses in the suburbs. Also, keep in mind that condos come with maintenance fees, so be sure to factor that in.

Related: Top 10 Unexpected Costs of Moving

Think About Square Footage
Knowing you want to downsize is one thing, but make sure that the size of home you decide on can accommodate your lifestyle. Do you entertain large groups of people over the holidays? It will be a lot tougher in a one-bedroom apartment. Do guests come frequently for overnight visits? You might want to think about having an extra guest room. Also, while your kids may have moved out, they might still come back! If this is something you’re okay with, make sure you’ve got the space.

Consider the Future
Whenever you move, you need to think about the needs of tomorrow as well as today. If you’re an empty nester who is getting on in years, this is particularly important. Townhouses can be great in terms of size and upkeep, but they tend to have a lot of stairs, which can become difficult as you get older. The same goes for low-rise apartment buildings without elevators. In these cases, a condo with an elevator might be better. Also, give some thought to design, such as barrier-free showers. And think about any helpful amenities you might want either in the building or nearby in the coming years.

Images Courtesy of Jeremy Kohm, Getty Images and Lauren Miller

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