If you are considering whether or not to downsize your home, it doesn’t mean you’re going downhill! Maybe you are retired and your kids are now grown and off to college, a new job, or a new place of their own for their next chapter in life. And so are you!
Before you make the move to downsize, here are some factors to think about and questions to ask yourself, as you analyze your lifestyle, your budget, and the timing that is best for you.
Determine your needs and wants.
Sit down and really evaluate your lifestyle and either what you would do with all that empty space in your current home, such as turning extra bedrooms into a home office, mediation room, or indoor gym, or the freedom a smaller home or condo loaded with amenities and maintenance services could give you for your budget, time, and convenience. Maybe your new space can reflect your next chapter if you like to entertain, cook, garden, or sit on a porch with a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
Decide where you want to live.
What are your hobbies now that you have more time? Do you want to live closer to the ocean for those beach walks you love to take? Have you taken up bike riding and want to live closer to trails or yoga or workout classes and want to live closer to the Y? Or are you traveling more now and just lock up the house and take off for long weekends? Do you still want to live close to your kids? Think of the kinds of neighborhoods and the type of homes (number of bedrooms and floor plans) that are the answers to these questions.
What are your financial benefits?
It’s still a seller’s market, so the listing of your larger home will more than likely result in a big profit, which can then be put towards a down payment for a smaller home or condo (new construction or existing), a retirement fund, paying off existing debts, lowering monthly costs, or something fun that’s been on your wish list for years. The freedom is in your hands! If you choose to invest in new construction, the home will have energy-efficient appliances and technology, which means your home will be cheaper to heat and cool, and maintain. Your larger home now, with the kids gone, costs much more.
Declutter and organize your personal belongings.
If you decide to downsize, strategize how you will be storing those personal items you have collected over the years: the greeting cards or notes from loved ones, the bins of your kids’ artwork or toys from their childhood, the overflowing amount of holiday decorations, books, the outgrown sporting equipment, and more. This sentimental clutter carries a priceless value of precious memories, but will take up space in your downsize. That doesn’t mean you have to start over, of course, but instead consider sorting these possessions into categories of keeping, donating, selling, or discarding. Keep only the important treasures that bring you joy or serve a practical purpose. Have your kids go through their items to see what they would like passed on to them and their future generations. And if you simply can’t part with a certain amount of things, look for creative storage solutions in your new home, like built-in cabinets or shelving or rent a personal storage unit.
Plan for your downsize with a professional.
Because downsizing can be an emotionally challenging process, seek professional help by way of real estate agents, expert organizers, or moving consultants for important advice at each step. They can advise you first on situations to consider in your first steps, such as whether or not your current home is where you want to spend your retirement and years to come, whether there are older relatives you need to take care of, and the status of your health. They can help you find townhomes or condo buildings with elevators if need be, communities with amenities for active lifestyles, or one-level, single-family home neighborhoods. If you decide to downsize, the pros can also help with home staging, packing, and the sale or donation of any of your excess belongings.
Paige Bird has been a real estate agent in Myrtle Beach since 2004 and has been named the #1 RE/MAX Agent in South Carolina for 8 consecutive years. In 2022, she closed on 75 properties for a total of $26,472,347 in sales volume and an average list-to-sales price of 99.10%.