A Better Fit? Downsizing

[May 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Ninah Hunter, Real Estate Editor]

Thinking of downsizing? Whether you’re looking to save money, be closer to family, avoid having grown children with their children move in with you, or just simplify your life—allowing for more travel and fun time, these five tips will help meet your downsizing goals.

Tip 1: Start the process early. Even if downsizing is not around the corner, it pays to plan for it now. That way, you are not caught off guard, especially if it becomes involuntary (e.g., death, divorce, illness, job transfer).

Tip 2: Crunch the numbers. In today’s market, downsizers are often surprised by how much a smaller home costs. Engage a real estate agent to find out what you can expect to get for your home and what the replacement home will cost you. Figure in the cost of utilities, HOA fees, taxes, and insurance, or the general cost of living in the new location. Run your plan by your financial planner or tax advisor.

Tip 3: Downsize the little stuff. De-cluttering your personal effects now means you’ll have less to move when the time comes. If you haven’t used something for a year, get rid of it. Try the Marie Kondo method (search Amazon.com or YouTube). Digitize what you can, e.g., papers, photos, CD’s. You can then get rid of the file and storage cabinets and the CD player.

Tip 4: Plan for the big things. If you know you will lose a bedroom, a formal dining room, or significant square footage, sell or give away those larger items you will have nowhere to put. Measure all those you plan to take to make sure they will fit in the new space. Analyze the cost of shipping vs. buying new. It may be cheaper to start over with new furniture—and more fun.

Tip 5: Consider alternatives. If your reason is mostly financial, moving may not be necessary. Consider renting out or sharing a portion of your home, closing off unused areas, xeriscaping a large yard, replacing old HVAC units with newer energy-saving ones, or refinancing your home to pay off debt. And, of course, there is always selling what you don’t need!