Are you at the stage of life where you’re wondering if it’s time to downsize?
We love our big family homes, but eventually the work and cost of maintenance — cutting grass, shovelling snow, paying for upkeep on that aging furnace or air conditioner — outweigh our attachment to our older home. That’s when it’s time to look at applying the equity built up during years of ownership toward a new, smaller home that offers the space and comfort that’s needed but without the work a large, older home demands.
Longwood’s bungalows are ideal for downsizing, but you need to know how to make the most of your new space.
A new-built smaller home doesn’t mean just less maintenance. It will also cost less to heat and cool, your electricity consumption will drop, and insurance may be reduced. You’ll also enjoy less clutter and save money (and help the planet!) by not acquiring a lot of new things to fill big empty spaces.
Choosing your new home
Condo? Bungalow? Townhome? Downtown or in a smaller, tightly knit community with nearby shopping and a golf course? Take the time to think carefully about the kind of home and surroundings you really want. A downtown condo is fun, but what happens when the grandchildren want to sleep over or out-of-town guests arrive? And remember to think longer term: a one-level bungalow, for example, makes it easier to remain in your own home as you age and climbing stairs becomes more difficult.
Start downsizing early and modestly
Your new home will be smaller than your current one, so you’ll need to get rid of some possessions. The task may seem overwhelming at first, but try starting small with a little-used closet and working at it 15 minutes a day. Gradually move to bigger areas and more time each day. You’ll be surprised how much you get done with this simple strategy.
Keep only what’s important
We all have treasured objects that remind us of milestones like our children’s first day of school or that special family holiday. But you can’t keep everything, so you’ll have to be selective. Will your life really be less full if you recycle that old anniversary card or that photo from high school? Be ruthless when it comes to paperwork, shredding old bank statements and that warranty for the stove you trashed 10 years ago.
Don’t burden your kids and grandkids
You may love the old living room sofa, but don’t assume your newly married granddaughter wants it. Tell your family and friends what you’re getting rid of. If they don’t want it, don’t be offended; instead, make it available to others through a charity like The Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul.
Avoid the storage trap
You don’t have room in your new home for that old dining set, so you stick it and other unusable items in a rental storage facility “just in case.” In many instances, that’s a waste of money; if no one wants the items now, are they likely to want them in four or five years? Get rid of the unwanted stuff and bank what you would have spent on renting storage space — you’ll be amazed how fast the money adds up.
Furnishing your new home
The number one rule here is, don’t take anything from your old home unless you have space for it in your new one. You may love that old recliner, but if it doesn’t fit, it’s time to go shopping for a replacement. To determine which furnishings you can keep, get the measurements of each room in your new home from the floor plan and then measure your existing furniture to see what fits comfortably. Need to invest in new furniture? Don’t worry about it: you’ve worked hard all your life and you deserve some rewards.