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Home Tips: Downsizing from a House to an Apartment or Condo

Downsizing from a family home to an apartment or condo sounds like a daunting task, especially if you’ve been living in the same home for several years. Moving may lead to a life that’s less stressful, offering more freedom and money, but getting there can be hard work. You can reduce the stress associated with moving into a smaller abode by taking the time to plan out the major changes associated with downsizing. Keeping a good attitude is important, so make a list of all the benefits downsizing will bring, and review that list anytime the job begins to feel overwhelming.

Will Your Cost of Living Really be Less?

Don’t assume less square footage automatically means more money in your pocket. Whether you’re moving across country or just across town your expenses will change. A tiny house or condo in a chic neighborhood can cost as much or more as a home in a typical family suburb. Factor in the cost of transportation, taxes, utilities, maintenance and everyday expenses before making a final decision.

What's the Upside to Downsizing?

There’s no rule that says you must downsize when you reach a certain age or your family gets smaller. If trading your current home for a smaller one doesn’t offer advantages, why do it? Take an honest accounting of the goals you hope downsizing will help you achieve. If you’re looking for a simpler life with less time spent cleaning house and maintaining a large property, “moving on down” might be a great fit. However, hiring a housekeeper and a landscaping company might also be a solution. If your main goal is financial it could be smarter to rent out one or two of the rooms in your current house or adding an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to your single family lot if it's allowed by the city. Talk over your plans with a real estate professional, investment planner and your family before making any final decisions.

Ready to Downsize? Start Now

Moving is hard work under the best of circumstances. Downsizing is an extra challenge because, let’s face it, we love our stuff! And more of it accumulates in closets and garages and spare rooms than you may have noticed. If possible, begin the process of reducing your possessions at least three months before the move date. How much do you need to let go of? An easy way to decide is to simply compare the square footage of your current home and your future one. If you’re living in a 2000-sq. ft. single family home and moving to a 1000-sq. ft. apartment, about half of your belongings will have to go somewhere else.

What Can You Live Without?

Surprisingly, many people fail to realize how little storage a smaller home provides. Start making decisions about which belongings you can live without and which you can’t before you invest in a new property. If you absolutely can’t imagine life without Grandma’s matching china hutch, buffet, extra-large dining set, piles of antique table linens and complete service for twenty-four, downsizing may not really be for you. Storage options such as a rental locker or onsite shed may provide a reasonable compromise, but ultimately downsizing means living with fewer possessions.

Shrink Your Technology

Few people can do without a home computer and all the extra equipment that goes with it. You can stay online and in touch by streamlining your home technology. Choose a laptop and Wi-Fi printer instead of desk-top models to eliminate the need for dedicated office space. If movie night at home is your favorite form of entertainment don’t worry, you don’t have to give up that big-screen TV, just trade it in for a wall-mounted model to save space in your new smaller home.

Moving day is sure to bring its own challenges, but with proper preparation downsizing to a condo or apartment can be a satisfying process.

Lists are Your Friends

List the inventory of your current home room by room. Go through each list and decide which items must come with you and which you don’t need. Tackling the job one room at a time will help prevent confusion and force you to take a thorough look at everything you have. If possible, take your “keep” lists to your future home to get a better idea if your plans are realistic for the space. Visiting a friend who lives in an apartment or condo is also a good idea. You can see how much furniture comfortably fits into a similar space.

Sell or Donate?

Once you’ve decided which belongings you won’t take to your new home, it’s time to face the task of getting rid of them. If finances aren’t an issue, calling a donation center is the easiest way to unload quality used goods. In most cases, a donation center will come to your location, load the items and take them away. You won’t have to lift a finger. If you’d prefer to earn a little money try listing them on an online market place, organizing a garage sale or taking some of your best pieces to a consignment shop. If you’re not ready to make final decisions about your belongings, renting a storage unit is a smart alternative.

Moving day is sure to bring its own challenges, but with proper preparation downsizing to a condo or apartment can be a satisfying process.


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