When Rightsizing From Your Present Home - Keep it Simple
Relocating to a new home that’s more suitable to your current needs requires well-planned steps, including financial planning and paring down your possessions. Social and health considerations also play a role. Like any long-term commitment, consider the benefits and limitations a new home will provide.
A realistic breakdown of expenses, such as mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and transportation, is essential. Downsizing will reduce the housing costs, property taxes, and possibly future maintenance costs.
And money saved by moving to a smaller home can be used elsewhere, such as supplementing retirement savings or creating a new active lifestyle. A smaller home will also help lower energy bills and home repair costs, and a smaller space means fewer furnishings to replace in the future.
Maintaining a home that no longer meets your current needs and lifestyle can be a financial burden that may prevent you from saving for retirement, travelling, or doing any number of things you dream of doing. Ask yourself, “Is managing the family home holding [me] back from enjoying life?”
Downsizing is an incredibly emotional experience for most. Although it can be difficult to let go of the many prized possessions we accumulate over time, it can be difficult to clear our closets, drawers, and basements of things we no longer need or use. One bonus: it’s easier to find what we’re looking for.
“When you have loads of closets and storage, you tend to fill all that space,” says professional organizer Rowena List. A smaller space allows for a specific place for necessary things.
Becoming more social
Downsizing can create more time for doing the things we enjoy most. When we consider the amount of time many of us spend cleaning and maintaining our home, the opportunity to increase our leisure time is very appealing. My clients tell me that after rightsizing, they feel more relaxed and free, able to spend more time with friends and family.
Renewing our attitude
Downsizing can provide the chance to renew our perspective on life. Integrative physician Isaac Eliaz states, “Such life circumstances offer a great example of the holistic nature of detoxification, of creating new space for transformation. We can access hidden gems: renewed feelings of excitement, freshness, and inspiration.”
Where to move to can be a difficult decision when we factor in all the things we want, such as proximity to transportation, shopping, and medical facilities. Moving can also impact our family and social life.
Sense of loss
When we move from a family home, we may feel a sense of loss for the family connections and lifestyle it represents. Allow family members to help you with your move to help ease the transition to a new home.
A smaller living space can present challenges when hosting family dinners, or it may prevent grown children from returning home, (which for some may be a good thing!). Downsizing may encourage our grown children to step up to the plate by taking over family dinners and making their own way in life.
Like any change, downsizing takes adjusting to. Any type of major life change naturally creates stress. Although it is a “highly emotional and stressful” time, with careful planning, downsizing can be a positive life transition.
Allow me to be your guide when downsizing, I have helped hundreds do it and have learned quite a few things during the years that I can share with you.
These steps will help you make a smooth transition to a smaller residence.
Plan a realistic timeframe.
Take your time, and work with a professional organizer if the process is too overwhelming. Take small steps. Give yourself plenty of time, but stick to a firm deadline, advises List.
Determine your housing needs.
Think about where you want to live, what amenities you require, and who you want to be near. Spend time researching the area and property.
Don’t go bigger than you need. By contrast to downsizing too much, you can also not downsize enough. You can imagine the kids and grandkids will visit all you want, but don’t go for a home that’s bigger than you need, simply to accommodate potential visitors. One spare room and a fold-out sofa could probably adapt to most needs and will still keep your home manageable. The same goes for lot sizes. Take into consideration how much yard maintenance you will be able to do as you advance in years and what the costs will be if you have to hire someone to mow the grass and weed the garden.
Planning for a quiet life outside the city might make sense on one hand, but it puts you further from essential services when you’re older and usually further from public transport if you’re unable to drive because of your health. The location considerations you had as a family or when you were younger may not be the same as you get older. Where ever you choose as a location, make sure you plan ahead so your future needs are met.
Stay within your budget.
Make sure your ideal home matches your current [and future] budget while having a vision of the lifestyle you want to keep.
With income reduced to your pension and other investments, you may have to adjust to a more modest lifestyle. A smaller home will cost you less, but there may be other costs you need to factor in. Are you overestimating the worth of the home you’re selling? What will the sale price buy you for a retirement home? Get a complete list of what you need to consider, and weigh it up against your income to get a balance that you’ll be happy with.
Do your homework.
If buying a condo in London Ontario, research the condo fees, building condition, management reputation or turnover, and décor and pet restrictions. A very important consideration is the mix of owner occupied vs tenant rentals and the age group of the other owners in the complex or building.
Create a good support network.
For a smooth transition, obtain input from a professional Realtor. You may also wish to consult financial advisors, planners, accountants, and lawyers.
Sort through personal papers and photographs first.
These items take the most time to look over. Decide whether to keep them, save them for your children, or shred.
Ask family members for help sorting through other possessions.
Downsizing is a huge undertaking. An unbiased opinion is always welcome when we must decide what we want to keep and what we can donate, recycle, or sell. Don’t simply toss old items away. If in doubt about the value of an item, have it appraised.
Focus on the positives.
Moving to a smaller home may make it easier for you to travel, participate in interests and activities, and enjoy a new sense of freedom. Embrace downsizing as an adventure, an opportunity to meet new people and explore a new phase of your life.
The above was written by Cheryl Patterson
Hidden Costs of Downsizing to a Smaller Home
For older Canadians who have watched their retirement savings shrink over the past few years, downsizing seems like a no-brainer. Wouldn't moving to a smaller home mean lower mortgage payments and living costs? Well, maybe -- but experts agree that a number of factors, not all of them financial, make each case unique.
"Your biggest expense is your home," says Steven A. Sass, program director at The Center for Retirement Research. "Our sense is that people who are retiring and are financially strapped should think hard about downsizing as a way to improve their income."
According to the Center's research, downsizing from a $250,000 house to one that costs $150,000 could increase yearly income by $3,000 and reduce annual expenses by $3,250, saving the homeowner $6,250 a year.
Here's the math behind the figures: Subtracting the price of the new home from that of the old adds $100,000 to your savings. From that, subtract the cost of moving.
"Moving is expensive," Sass says. While every situation will be different, moving can cost 10 percent or more of the selling price of your home, he says.
Ten percent of $250,000, or $25,000, brings the profit down to $75,000.
Using the rule of 4 percent, a rule of thumb financial planners use to calculate how much retirees may safely withdraw from their savings annually, Sass says $75,000 in the bank could add $3,000 of income per year.
The Center calculates the cost of taxes, insurance, utilities and upkeep at 3.25 percent of the home's value -- a figure that will also vary depending upon where you live, Sass says.
At that rate, household expenses for the old home would be about $8,125 a year. For the new, smaller home, they drop to about $4,875 a year -- resulting in an additional gain of $3,250 a year for a total annual savings of $6,250.
The cost of transportation and gas should also be considered. "How far will they be from the places they need to go -- the grocery store, doctors, and hospitals? Will they be able to access public transportation?"
"A lot of older adults move out of the city without thinking about what happens when they can't drive anymore," says Julie Gray, a certified geriatric care manager who is a principal of Aging Wisdom, a care management service. "It's human nature to think that things will stay the same, but as we get older, there are a lot of things we need to think about -- not only monthly expenditures but physical changes and how those needs will be met in the most cost-effective way."
On the other hand, she says, changing medical needs may make staying in place too costly to be a practical option.
Particularly in older homes, Gray says, a remodel to widen doorways for walkers, make bathrooms more wheelchair-accessible or accommodate a live-in helper could be very pricey. "Seventy percent of those over 65 will need some kind of long-term care service eventually," she says, "so it's a good idea for older adults to take a look at their homes and see if it can meet those needs."