When is it time to downsize?

If you have considered downsizing before, or moving from one place into a smaller place, you may have noticed that timing is key.

Because there are many different reasons that someone might look for a smaller house or apartment, there are many different occasions wherein that move is appropriate. Between looking to save money, looking to take up less space and even looking to clean less, many things could push your decision closer to finding a new, smaller home. However, there are also plenty of reasons that downsizing immediately may not be for you so, by understanding these timeframes, you can make the wisest decision for your family’s future.

Is there a right time to downsize?

Getting rid of excess space and belongings is a good idea for most people. However, certain factors can inhibit your ability to downsize effectively if you choose to do so at the wrong time. These include things that you can’t control, such as the housing market, as well as some that you can, such as your own willingness to pack up and move. Because there are so many factors that can play into a downsizing decision, it is impossible to issue blanket statements that cover the right timing for everybody.

When You Should Make the Move to Downsize

If you feel as though moving into a smaller house or apartment is right for your family, there are a few ways to find out if it is also the right time to do so. You may be ready to downsize if:

  • You have more room than you know what to do with

If you feel as though you are wasting money on a high rent/mortgage for a bunch of rooms that you are not fully utilizing, downsizing is a great way to avoid that in the future. This option is especially relevant for retirees, as they often find that they do not need quite as much space as they might have in the past. Of course, planning for the future (especially potential future children) is crucial when making this decision, as unused space today may be usable later on.

  • You will be able to use the extra money productively

This may sound like a strange factor, as surely everyone would be thrilled with having some extra spending money. However, if you feel as though the extra money saved by reducing your rent/mortgage would benefit you in the short-term, it may be a good time to move. Even if you can afford to put this extra downsizing money away in a savings account, doing so can be an excellent way to work towards paying your student loans or other bills. Additionally, if your current mortgage, rent insurance or taxes are cutting too much into your monthly income, you may need to make a fast change anyways.

  • Your household maintenance has become too much

Oftentimes, individuals and families with larger houses have more chores to do, thanks to the increased amount of space that their houses have. Bigger/more rooms mean more cleaning, and lawns mean grass cutting and weed maintenance. If you wish to spend less time every week doing these kinds of chores, a simple way of doing so would be to get fewer square footage that you are responsible for.

When to Wait before Downsizing

Not everyone should downsize immediately, even if he or she feels like the extra money might be nice. This is usually due to the fact that the money may not even be there at all. You should avoid rushing into a downsized house or apartment when:

  • The monthly costs of your new, smaller place would be higher than your old place

This phenomenon is actually quite common, especially if you are looking to move from the country into the city. Property values can vary wildly depending on how close you are to modern-day conveniences. A large house in the prairie may be much cheaper than a small apartment in New York City. This can be an acceptable sacrifice for some people, but you should hold off on downsizing in this case if you are looking to do so for financial reasons.

  • There are parts of your home that you will not be able to find in a smaller one

This is a vague, but important consideration. If you are a gardener, for example, moving from a house with a big backyard garden to a small apartment will likely prevent you from doing what you love. Perhaps you enjoy woodworking, but you already have your perfect toolshed and garage at your current home. Keep in mind whether you can do your hobbies in a smaller home.

  • There are small changes that you can make in your current house to make things easier

If your primary concern is mobility, such as the inability to navigate he stairs in your current home perhaps installing a chair lift in your home is a cheaper option in the long-run than going through the trouble of moving. If you have plenty of extra space in your house, you can always try to rent out rooms in order to make a bit of extra spending money. Moving is an expensive endeavor, so you should only do it if it makes sense for you.

Are there other factors that should play into my downsizing decision?

Generally, there is no clear-cut way to know for sure if downsizing is right for your family without carefully examining your own pros and cons of doing so. Downsizing can be quite an emotional process, especially if you are coming from a home that contains special family memories. Weigh the sentimental value of your home against the original reasons that made you first consider making a move (and see which side feels more important.

Of course, it is also important to know where in your life you are, and where you will want to be later on. Downsizing may be the best bet for a recently retired couple, but a growing, young family might not find it quite as necessary. When you have a good idea of the right time for you to downsize, you can go into the actual process confidently and competently.

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