If you are about to become an empty nester–or even if you’ve been one for a while now–you may be thinking about downsizing from the family home. After all, bigger isn’t always better, especially once the kids are out of the house and you start to find you’ve got a lot more space than you know what to do with. The larger the home, the more time and money it takes to maintain.
Downsizing can be a great option if you’re looking for something that’s a bit easier to manage or that better fits your new lifestyle. Not only might square footage be an issue, but you may not need the same type of floor plan. That extra space that was great for teens to hang out may no longer be needed. You may want to opt for a smaller home with a better outdoor entertaining space or a different kitchen layout that’s more appropriate for your new household size.
But before you start searching for a smaller home, keep in mind that downsizing isn’t always the best answer. Before you make your next move, ask yourself these three questions about opting for a smaller home:
Are you prepared to get rid of a lot of your stuff? There’s a reason the self-storage industry is booming. As Americans, we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. Your current large family home may be able to accommodate all of your furnishings, electronics, keepsakes and expansive wardrobes. Downsizing may mean your home no longer comfortably fits your current inventory of belongings. Be sure you have a plan for what to do with extra furniture and other items that won’t fit your new space.
Are you emotionally ready to downsize? Even if moving to a smaller home seems to be the practical solution, you could end up regretting your decision if you aren’t emotionally prepared for a smaller home. Before you make any drastic decision, ask yourself if you’re ready to leave your larger home where you raised your family. Also, consider whether college-aged children are going to need a place to stay over the summer or weekends. If you or other family members are too emotionally attached to your home, it’s best to work through those feelings before taking the plunge and buying a smaller property.
Will it make financial sense? It might seem like a no-brainer when it comes to saving money, but a smaller property doesn’t always mean a lower monthly payment. That’s because moving to a different type of community might mean increased HOA fees, maintenance fees or other increases in monthly costs. It’s important to know what potential costs there will be to avoid surprises once you’ve identified a potential property.
In the end, you’ll find that downsizing may be a more complicated decision than you had anticipated. It’s possible that a different floor plan and amenities may be more important than reducing square footage. If you ask yourself the right questions, you’re more likely to avoid regretting your next move.