It’s long been the consensus in America that bigger is better, but lately many people are less sure of that. For instance, the size of the average single-family home has ballooned to more than 2,500 square feet — two and a half times what it was immediately after World War II. Homeowners have been convinced that living in as much space as possible is always better, but the reality is complicated. Larger homes require more upkeep, encourage us to fill them with a lot of items we may not need, and they’re generally more expensive. That’s why many people today are looking to downsize to a smaller house.
If moving into a home with less space seems like the right decision for you and your family, take the time to think it over first. It’s not simply a question of storage space. Downsizing means changing your lifestyle in many ways, yet the benefits can be well worth it if you do it right. With a bit of planning and soul-searching, losing a little square footage means you can gain a lot more in other areas of your life.
If you’re thinking about downsizing, take a close look at the accompanying guide. It contains key information about the why and how of relocating to a cozier space.
There are many good reasons for downsizing into a smaller home, including:
- Cutting the amount of clutter in your life
- Your children may be moving out to start college
- You would spend less time cleaning the house and maintaining the yard
- Saving money by lowering your mortgage payments
Planning Your Downsizing
- Get down to basics. Take inventory of everything in your home and pare it down to only the items you truly need. Once you do, you’ll have a better idea of how much space your next home should have. Donate or sell everything you won’t take with you.
- Do some long-term planning. If you have adult children or out-of-town relatives who visit frequently, you may not want to give up having a guest room. If you dream of starting your own business someday, make sure your next home has space for an office or workshop.
- Think about the cost of moving. Even if you’ll slash your mortgage payments, moving into a smaller home still might cost you money. Think about whether or not your existing home needs work before you can sell it, whether your smaller home might come with association fees or higher property taxes, and if you’ll need to buy a lot of furniture.
Financial Benefits of Downsizing
- Lowering your mortgage. The smaller your house is, the less you may be spending for mortgage payments each month.
- Slashing your debt. With less of your income being directed to your home, you’ll be able to pay student loans, car payments and other debt much faster.
- Boosting your retirement. You’ll also be able to put more of your money into your retirement plan when your mortgage payments are lower.
- Eliminating your mortgage. Buying a smaller home could mean that you can say goodbye to a mortgage altogether. This is especially true if you’re able to buy your new home with the money you made selling your old one.
How to Get Started
If you believe the time is right and downsizing makes sense for you and your family, here are some steps to simplify the process:
- Get everyone on the same page. If you share your home with anyone else, make sure they understand the goals and practicalities of downsizing. A little conversation can prevent a lot of fights later.
- Make everything multipurpose. The best way to prevent clutter is to ensure every space and item in your home can serve more than one purpose. Buy furniture with added storage space or use a fold-away desk to turn your living room into a home office.
- Talk to a professional. Realtors can help you make the most informed decision when it comes to finding the smaller house of your dreams. They also can make it easier to know you’re getting the most value out of your existing home when you put it on the market.
Terrance M., Supervisor of Technical Training and Compliance at Pivotal Home Solutions, has been working in the heating and cooling industry for more than 33 years. He attended Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, where he completed the HVAC program. Terrance holds a Class A1 mechanical license.