We have helped a lot of clients downsize over the years. Downsizing is a part of life as older people sell big houses they no longer need in order to get into something smaller, more affordable, and easier to maintain. Yet before a client ever calls and makes arrangements with My Divine Concierge, decisions about what to buy or where to move have to be made. Those decisions can be the most challenging part of the equation.
One of the big questions people ask is one of how small to go. They’ve come to the conclusion that they no longer need a big house that remains largely empty, but living in something smaller is a foreign concept. They don’t know how much space they realistically need; they don’t know whether they will need additional space in the future.
To address the question of how small to go, we have put together a list of four things to consider:
1. Needs for Day-To-Day Living
The average couple downsizing after all the kids are grown and gone is leaving a house that may have two or three unused bedrooms. The master bedroom, living room and kitchen still get plenty of use. Understanding this is the starting point for determining how small to go. In simple terms, what are your needs for day-to-day living?
Most of us can get by with just a few rooms. So the downsizing couple could, if they absolutely had to, get by with a one-bedroom apartment that offered a combined living room and kitchen combination. But that might be too small, leading us to the second consideration: guest potential.
2. Extra Space for Guests
The person who is downsizing is unlikely to avoid having guests for the rest of his or her life. So the next consideration is one of how much space is needed to entertain guests. Do you have family that lives out of state? If so, you might want to offer accommodations when they are in town. When you do have guests, are you likely to have large dinner parties to celebrate? If so, you may be able to sacrifice the spare bedroom in exchange for a larger dining room and kitchen.
3. Routine Cleaning and Care
Every room in the home is subject to routine cleaning and care – even those rooms that are seldom used. So before a downsizing decision is made, couples need to ask themselves how much energy they can realistically devote to housekeeping. There is no point in buying something with more space than you realistically need if your health will not let you keep up with the housework.
4. The Monthly Budget
Last is the monthly budget. We have known clients that have downsized into extremely small accommodations in order to reduce the stress on their monthly budgets. Some have had no choice due to limited income while others could have afforded larger space without any serious financial stress. The question to ask yourself regarding your budget is this: are you forced to save money because you are on a fixed income, or are you simply choosing to save money for whatever reason?
It is possible to go so small as to make your life miserable after downsizing. This is not necessarily a wise idea. Remember, the reason for downsizing is that you do not need the large house you now live in. Downsizing is not supposed to destroy your quality of life; it is supposed to enhance it. Keep that in mind when deciding how small to go.