So, you’ve decided to downsize. Perhaps you can no longer afford your current house and feel that moving to a smaller house would solve some of your financial challenges. Or maybe you’re moving into a new town with higher housing prices. So, you feel that downsizing would be a good idea.
Whichever the reason, it’s a great decision and one that may prove a masterstroke when you look back in a few months. Downsizing almost always results in valuable savings that you can channel into more critical areas of your everyday life. Heck, it may even allow you to save towards a new house.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as many people wish. For one, downsizing means you have to part with valuable memories. Moreover, you’ll be worried (and rightly so) whether you can find a smaller house that can comfortably accommodate you and your family and guests. So, we’ve rounded up several tips and ideas to help you downsize while avoiding common pitfalls.
1- Know why you’re downsizing
The first and most crucial step is understanding why you’re downsizing. Otherwise, you risk gaining nothing from moving to a smaller house.
The most common reason people downsize is to shift to a minimalist lifestyle. Maybe you feel that you’re wasting money on an expensive but unhelpful lifestyle and wish to change. Downsizing can get you started on a minimalist lifestyle. Families also often downsize to save money, deal with an empty nest, and when moving to a new, more expensive city.
2- Find out the potential savings
Will you save money by moving to the new smaller house? Or will your new expenses eat up all the savings?
To answer the question, you need a draft budget. Begin by calculating the expected living expenses at the new location. Then compare them with your current spending. Also, list down all the costs that you would forego by moving to the smaller house. These may include an expensive mortgage, insurance costs, high utility expenses, and excessive property taxes. Do the potential savings excite you?
3- Understand the hidden costs
A common mistake people make when downsizing is focusing only on the positives while completely forgetting common relocation challenges.
Relocation and furnishing costs are especially critical. Remember that even relocating over a short distance can gobble up hundreds of dollars. Then you have to account for new furnishings, such as wallpaper, painting, and perhaps a few new furniture. That’s before you factor in repair costs. Also, make sure you know about the new property taxes.
4- Declutter with a plan
Once you’re ready to move out, the next step is to declutter. We recommend the clutter-cutting approach where you bring four boxes labeled “Put Away,” “Give Away or Sell,” “Trash,” and “Storage” and sort all your items into the four boxes. You can also download apps to help you with sorting. Do this from room to room until you’re done.
Once you’re done, put away, sell/give away, store, or throw the items in the trash as the box label says. Some of the best apps to sell your items are Nextdoor and OfferUp. Alternatively, sell them on Facebook Marketplace.
5- Consider self-storage rental
One way to avoid selling or throwing away something you may need in the future is to rent space at a self-storage facility. This will also give you more time as you decide what to do with items you’d like to keep but don’t have room for currently.
Just remember that storage spaces can be expensive. So, you don’t want your items staying in self-storage for more than a few weeks.
6- Learn how to maximize space in the smaller house
The new house may likely feel even smaller than you imagined. Sometimes it can be so small that you begin to wonder if your items will fit. A few space maximization tips can go a long way in such situations.
For instance, consider installing wall-mounted storage and floating shelves. Additionally, improve organization in your garage and increase storage in the kitchen with rolling carts that don’t cram the floor. Hooks to the buttons of your cabinets to hold mugs and wall-mounted wine racks are also worthwhile.
7- Learn to make small spaces appear bigger
Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to make small spaces appear bigger. First, decorate with light colors as they make spaces seem more open. White and very soft greys work excellently. Additionally, utilize mirrors and shiny surfaces to reflect light. A shiny coffee table and mirrors across the room are two great examples.
Other ways to make a small home appear bigger include creating multipurpose rooms and dressing the windows minimally with lighter shades that allow plenty of light to enter the various spaces.
You can considerably “step down” your lifestyle and save a lot of money in the process by moving to a smaller house. Are you ready to take the next step?
About Transition Realty
Transition Realty owner Steve Lehmeyer specializes in helping people manage real estate transactions in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. His experience in the Minnesota real estate market spans 20 years. Steve and his team work with clients to buy & sell single-family homes, townhouses, condos, lake homes, and investment property. Download a free home search app for your smartphone or search the MLS at TransitionRealty.com.