We all know that familiar storyline… a couple buys a big house. The years pass and the couple fills the house with children, miscellaneous detritus of life, and memories.
Several years down the road, the kids have flown the coop and the couple has a huge house that no longer fits their lifestyle.
Maintaining a large house is a bit like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. It is never ending. That wonderfully large backyard? It takes a lot of time to mow, weed, and water it. How much does it cost to heat/cool a 3,000 square foot home when only 2 people live there now? You like having all of those empty bedrooms for when your kids and their families come to visit? How often do they actually come? 3-4 weeks a year, what about the other 48-49 weeks a year?
There are some significant benefits to downsizing as your life starts to lose a certain level of chaos.
1. You will free up money for other financial goals.
The value of your home has likely shot up over the last 20-30 years. If you decide to sell your home and downsize, you will likely have money to play with. The money that you save by selling your property and buying a smaller home could help your child get on the property ladder, save for college, or prepare for retirement. Chances are that you have had a dream of what you would like to do “someday”. Does it involve travel? Does it involve helping your children with college? By selling your largely unused home, you may be able to free up some capital to invest in other areas of your life.
2. You could move into a better neighborhood.
Whether you have kids or not, most people want to live in a better neighborhood where they can put down roots. I personally love having my local girl scout come knocking to sell Caramel Delights. Don’t hate because you prefer Thin Mints…if you love Lemonades then I a sorry and we can’t be friends. Choosing a smaller home in a sought after area can have the up-side of having better schools, increased walkability, more charm, and lower crime.
3. You will simplify your life.
If you happen to be going through a major life change like a divorce, empty nest, illness, or job change downsizing your home can bring you peace of mind. A bigger home comes with maintenance costs, potential wasted space, and storage for all of the things that you don’t really need anymore. By downsizing, your living costs can come down a significant amount. Imagine only needing 10 minutes to vacuum your entire home! You can decrease your heating costs 4-5 times and still have an extra room available for people to stay.
The real challenge of downsizing is emotional. Downsizing doesn’t mean just leaving the home that you have built happy memories in for the last several years. It means getting rid of the keepsakes that sometimes anchor those memories. It can sometimes be a process of grieving to give up the items that you have collected through the years, but remember that you might not have space in your new home. You are taking a giant step forward in your life and you have wonderful memories to hold close to your heart. You don’t need extra furniture to remind you of wonderful times gone by.
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