Downsizing is so much more than moving from a big house to a smaller one, and having a well thought out plan in place takes the stress out of questions such as, ‘Where do I begin?’ and ‘What do I do next?’ The thought of downsizing can invoke equal parts dread and delight. Dread of cleaning out attics, basements and closets, delight of being freed from the burdens of never-ending maintenance and big mortgages. The good news is, the dread part is a short-term hurdle while the delight part is indefinite. Downsizing is a process, and we’ve gathered a few ideas to get you thinking big about living small.
Space. Downsizing doesn’t just mean you want less space, you want more efficient space. Often this means main-level living. Maybe you don’t need to worry about stairs now, but having a master suite on the first floor becomes increasingly necessary as you become older. Space means having enough to live comfortably to host family and friends, but not so much that it is a burden to maintain or manage.
Storage. This might not be the first thing to pop into your head when you think about downsizing. Isn’t one of the big to-do’s in downsizing to get rid of ‘stuff’? Yes and no. You do want to clear the clutter and get the kids trophies out of the attic, but know there will be items that you’re just not willing to part with. Understand the storage situation of where you’re looking to move, and consider a self-storage solution for the short-term. If those ‘can’t-part-with’ items sit in storage for more than a year without use, you’ll know it’s time to part ways.
Lifestyle. Your home is still a reflection of who you are, and downsizing doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice style. Custom finishes, new appliances, and options for entertaining are still important. Think about your hobbies and how they might fit in to your new place. Do you like to garden? You’ll need a small yard. Paint? Be sure there is plenty of light. Craft? You might need a separate room or office. Need a workshop? A garage would be helpful. All of these should factor in to your downsizing decisions.
Location. This is important because you’ll want to be in this spot for the long haul. Finding the right location is something only you can decide. Do you want to be closer to kids and grandkids – or perhaps you need some distance? Many people who downsize want walkability with access to public transportation in order to easily take advantage of local activities. This is also a time when access to great hospitals and healthcare is more important than the school system. When considering location, think about having privacy without isolation.
Low-maintenance. Mowing the lawn, shoveling the sidewalks, painting the trim –when you downsize, maintenance-free living is the way to go. You’ve put your time in and now you want to enjoy life. Low-maintenance also means move-in ready. No one wants to move into a place that needs a major renovation. Maybe you found a place in a great location or something with beautiful ocean views, but renovating can be costly and time consuming. Walking in to a place that doesn’t require sweat equity is a huge plus.