Why Downsize to a Smaller House? When does it make sense?
If you’re at or near retirement and living with only a spouse in a big house, you’ve probably considered downsizing. The extra space takes time to clean and money to heat. And the difference between the selling price of your current house and the purchase price of a smaller place would augment your retirement income.
On the other hand, you probably feel an attachment to the house where you’ve lived for many years and where your children grew up. And perhaps you’d like to keep the welcome mat out, in case a family member needs to move back home temporarily.
Here are a few questions to ponder before you make a decision.
1. Do you want or need the extra space for a clear purpose? If your children live far away and are settled with families and homes of their own, it’s unlikely they’ll ever want to move back in with Mom and Dad. However, perhaps you like to offer guest space whenever family or friends are in town. Also, it may be that the extra rooms are used as office space for one or more home-based businesses.
2. Is the financial windfall (the difference between what you’ll receive for the big house and what you’ll pay for a smaller one) a necessary amount or an optional portion of your retirement income? If you need to invest that extra amount to survive in retirement, then don’t read any further in this list – you must downsize! However, if you don’t need the extra funds to live comfortably when your working days end, staying in the big house is an option.
3. Is the extra space necessary for emotional health or marital stability? If you or your spouse need a yoga room or a library for peace of mind, that’s something to consider. The impact of any move on your marriage is another important consideration. If moving from a three-bedroom bungalow to a one-bedroom condo would compromise your personal space and cause strains in your relationship, that’s definitely a red flag.
4. Is it becoming difficult for you and your spouse to take care of your big house and property? Besides the added space, a large house usually comes with front and back yards to mow, a garden to tend, a driveway to shovel (if you’re in a snow zone), and perhaps a pool to clean. If health concerns or simply the effects of aging are slowing you down – and you don’t want to or cannot afford to hire someone to help – then Downsize to a Smaller House makes sense.
5. Can you bear to part with some of your stuff? If you downsize, not all of your belongings will fit into your new accommodations. That means you’ll certainly need to give up some furniture, and probably other space-consuming items. If every single stick of furniture is close to your heart, or if your collection of hubcaps gives your life meaning, then perhaps downsizing isn’t for you.
Downsizing your home is a great option for those who are able and willing to lose the extra space and all that it allows. If not, and if you don’t really need the money you’ll make in the transaction, it may make sense to stay where you are for now.
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