There are many life situations that may lead you to consider selling your current home and moving into a smaller one: Kids leaving for university, cashing in on a retirement plan, or the pressure of property upkeep. Whichever reasons you’re facing, make sure you’ve really done your homework before making any decisions. Here’s a list of 10 helpful hints to kick-start that conversation.
1. Facing Finances
Take a long, hard look at your financial input and output—especially if you’re on a fixed retirement income. If your savings aren’t substantial enough to constitute a “nest egg,” then tucking away the profits from the property may be the way to go. Downsizing may come down to finances but you should be able to show the evidence, one way or the other.
2. Community Connections
The costs of moving can go well beyond dollar bills. Consider your emotional wealth before taking any critical steps. Ask yourself, “Will this downsize take me away—intentionally or unintentionally—from the family, community and friendship supports I depend on or do I need new support systems for my physical, spiritual, medical and emotional well being?” Downsizing isn’t always about size and cents, sometimes it’s critical for your well-being.
3. Real Estate Market
Is your area a buyer’s market or a seller’s market? What can you hope to make on the sale? Finding the right real-estate agent to answer these questions is key. Ask friends and family members who’ve gone through similar transitions for referrals, and try to gather evaluations from two or three REALTORS® to ensure you’re getting a clear picture of the market.
4. Independent Thinker
Potentially selling the family home brings up a lot of emotions for everyone involved. Kids don’t want to see their childhood home go and family members are hoping for a chunk of change; it’s imperative that you seek out independent, unbiased advice. A REALTOR® can give you market feedback on your situation without any personal baggage.
5. Home Maintenance
Look at the work it takes to keep your current home clean, your garden weeded and your lawn maintained. It is too much to handle, or will it be in a few years? It’s best to downsize before it becomes imperative, because by then, a move will be even more physically challenging and emotionally draining.
6. Lifestyle Limitations
Maybe you feel a great wave of excitement at the idea of living near the ocean, or maybe the idea of leaving behind your veggie garden is too much. Moving comes with gains and losses, and you have to be prepared to give up certain aspects of your current lifestyle and adapt to new ones.
7. Square Footage
Think through your floor plan and look at different ways that square footage can be used. Can the kids’ old bedroom become a long-awaited art studio? Would the basement work as a private theatre? If you conclude that extra room is more hassle than it’s worth, maybe a cozier home is for you.
8. Property Payments
Yearly taxes and property insurance payments can take a chunk out of a modest budget. Would those expenses be less if you lived in a different neighbourhood, on a smaller plot or in a more compact house?
9. Be a Realist
Think carefully about the realities of aging. Remaining in a family home as you age often means adapting your home and relying on the help of others. These things can come at a cost, both financially and emotionally. It’s important that you discuss your plans with any family members or friends that might be affected by your decision, and ensure everyone is in agreement with your plans.
10. Don’t Rush
Luckily, you already have a place to live, so take your time and assess all the angles before making such a profound decision. When you are ready to start looking, don’t rush into anything. Sit with your REALTOR® and write down criteria for must haves in your new place. When the time is right, you’ll know.