Thinking of moving to a smaller home to save money and simplify your life? Think twice. Some 70% of respondents in a survey about downsizing report disappointment and regret. Some of the issues included spending more than the budget allowed, month to month expenses that were higher than anticipated, and difficulty adjusting to a smaller space. Don’t be discouraged. Downsizing to a smaller home can work well, but you need to perform some serious research and soul searching before making the decision. Here is a guide for getting started.
Why do you want to downsize? Reasons can include simply making a change, saving money by moving into a less expensive home, trading a large yard for a tiny yard, moving to a special spot, such as a mountain top or creek, moving closer to family, or simplifying your lifestyle. All of these are great reasons to downsize, but explore and ponder the answers. If the reason is money, do research and make up a realistic budget – you might be surprised. A certified financial planner at this stage can be very helpful.
If your reasons include simplifying your lifestyle, ask yourself if you really can live in a lot less space with fewer storage options and fewer possessions. Do a test – start simplifying now and see how it feels. Put things aside for a spring yard sale; haul things out of closets and make decisions about them. Decide what you have to have and what you can live without.
Downsizing should be downsizing. This does not mean moving from a 2,800 square foot home to a 2,200 square foot home. This is simply a move. Downsizing should mean cutting 30% of your square footage if you really want to have economies of scale. Move from 2,800 to 1,500. A little extreme, perhaps, but it will certainly get the ideas flowing.
Look for or create plenty of hidden storage space in your downsized home. After the move you will end up with more things than you thought you would. Instead of making your new smaller home look cluttered, hide the extra “stuff” in cabinets, closets, and chests.
Look for or create personal spaces for privacy. A very small home can end up feeling confining and a lack of privacy can be stressful. Personal space can be very small as long as it is cozy and bright.
Downsizing is a lifestyle. I know once in while we think we want to be an acetic and crawl into a cave, having sold all of our possessions. This happens in those fleeting moments when we feel overwhelmed with all the trappings of life and the obligations that go with them. But if you think through what you really want, you can have most of it; peace of mind with fewer things, lowered costs because of smaller spaces, fewer headaches worrying about maintenance and cleaning, and satisfaction knowing that you were able to make that stretch and concentrate on the list of things you really want.
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