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How To Downsize Your Home: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Published on February 18, 2021
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When many people imagine moving to a new home, they think about upgrading their surroundings by buying a bigger house. But you may be able to live more comfortably and with less stress by downsizing to a smaller home.

There are many benefits to downsizing your home, like fewer financial responsibilities and more access to cash flow. If you’re wondering how to downsize your home, this article will outline the seven steps you should take.

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Why You Should Downsize Your Home

When you downsize, you’ll lose access to living space in your home, but depending on your goals, the trade-off can be worth it. Here are some of the benefits you’ll gain by moving into a smaller space.

Cleaner Living Space

When you move into a smaller home, there’s less square footage to clean. Since there’s less space to clean, it may be easier to clean the house more frequently, which will make your home look nicer. And since you have fewer belongings to keep in your home, less dust will collect, which can cut down on dust allergies.

Less Stuff

When you move into a smaller house, you’re forced to declutter your belongings since there’s less space available. You can sell these items for extra cash or donate them to charity. You can also invest in better-quality furniture since you’ll need fewer items.

And decluttering your home will make the entire moving process easier since you’ll have fewer things to move into your new space. This could make it more affordable to hire movers or make it easier for you to DIY your move. 

Larger Resale Market

There’s usually a larger market for smaller, more affordable homes than expensive homes. Since more people can afford a smaller home, it could make it easier to sell your home if you choose to move again someday.

Lower Bills

A smaller home means less space to heat in the winter and keep cool in the summer. And there will be fewer lights hooked up to electricity, which will save you money on your utility bills.

Plus, you’ll reduce your energy usage, which is better for the environment. And a smaller home usually means you’ll owe less money on your homeowners insurance payment and property taxes.

Lower Mortgage Payment

A smaller house usually comes with a smaller mortgage payment, which frees up more money for other things. You can use the extra cash to fund your retirement, travel more, or pay off your mortgage faster.

And taking on a smaller mortgage means you’ll have less debt, which gives you more financial freedom in other areas of your life. Less debt also reduces your risk and can improve your peace of mind.

More Money To Invest

Minimizing your monthly payments means you’ll have more money to invest. For instance, if you have an extra $500 to invest every month, that money could grow to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending how close you are to retirement. Downsizing your home could give you more freedom once you’re ready to retire.

How To Downsize In 7 Simple Steps

Now that you understand the benefits of downsizing, you may wonder how to get started. Here are seven steps you can take to start the downsizing process.

1. Begin The Process Now

You should start the downsizing process as soon as possible to ensure you have plenty of time to organize your home. Most homeowners like to have a few months to declutter and pack up their belongings before staging their house for sale.

2. Create Your Decluttering Plan

It’s important to plan out the order of rooms you want to declutter and think about how you’ll organize your belongings. You can create four separate categories that you’ll organize your belongings into: keep, donate, sell and long-term storage.

3. Determine Your End Goal

What is your end goal when it comes to downsizing? What future lifestyle are you hoping to create? Identifying your goals will help you find the right home for your family and lifestyle. And if you’re planning to move into a smaller space, you’ll need to make sure you downsize enough, so your belongings fit into your new home. 

4. Take Stock Of Personal Belongings

It’s a good idea to inventory your belongings and determine what’s important for you to keep before you start letting go of items. A physical list can help you track your progress better and note which rooms have already been completed.

5. Start Sorting Into Categories

Next, you’ll want to sort through all the items in each room and organize them based on what you plan to save or give away. If you have a hard time determining if something is worth keeping, you can reach out to friends or family members for advice.

6. Set Aside Sentimental Items

You should store any sentimental items you want to keep in a safe place. This will prevent those items from accidentally getting damaged or set aside in the wrong category. Here are some sentimental items you may want to hang onto:

  • Family heirlooms
  • Photographs
  • Important financial documents
  • Fine jewelry
  • Functional pieces of furniture

7. Give Away Or Sell Anything Unwanted

Once you’ve decided what you want to keep, you can sort out the items you want to sell or donate. Here’s a list of items you might consider getting rid of:

  • Paper items like old receipts, newspapers or letters
  • Broken electronics
  • Stained or incorrectly sized clothing
  • Expired food
  • Unused appliances

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Additional Downsizing Tips

Once you’ve committed to downsizing your home and decided on what you’ll keep and throw out, you’re ready to get started. Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind.

Decide On A Lifestyle

If you’re a retired senior looking to downsize, a lifestyle change might be what you desire. Before you start looking into areas to live, start thinking about the type of community you want to live in.

Maybe you like to golf, so being near golf courses is important. A popular move for some seniors is relocating down south near beaches and marinas.

If you’re an empty nester, your desired lifestyle might not be much different from what it is now. Some empty nesters want to stay close to their kids and grandkids.

Although it’s common for empty nesters to stay near their family, a lifestyle change might be what you want, too. Maybe you want to change to a minimalist lifestyle or desire to leave the hustle and bustle of a city for a more rural area.

There are many different lifestyle changes but finding the one that fits your needs should be your first step in the downsizing process as you decide what type of home you’re looking for.

Consider Alternatives To Traditional Housing

When downsizing, consider whether you want to move into a smaller traditional home or try something new. If you’re looking for a lower-maintenance property with access to amenities, you might opt for a condo.

A townhouse might be a good option if you want a low-maintenance home but would still like some creative control over renovations and your yard. If you’d like to embrace minimalism and become more eco-friendly, you might even consider building a tiny house.

It’s also important to consider future costs. Look into local real estate trends and sale prices of prospective homes. Decide what a good price point is to sell your current home and when to buy a new one.

Do Your Research On New Costs

After you’ve determined your needs for your new home, you should research the real estate market in the area you plan to move to. Start by looking at home sales made over the last year in your desired location, and you can figure out approximately how much your new home will cost you.

You may also want to research the property taxes in your desired area, access to medical care, cost of living, and association dues if you’re looking into a condominium.

Strategize Storage Solutions

Once you’ve decided where to move and into what sort of property, it might be wise to think about how you want to store things in your new, smaller space. Even if you got rid of a large chunk of your belongings, there would still be things that require storage space in your new home.

As you’re moving in, plan out a storage system for everything that will need to be put away. If you don’t have much closet space, consider maximizing vertical storage and adding shelves. Stackable storage bins can also be especially useful if you have room to stow them.

The Bottom Line: Downsizing Your Home Can Come With Many Benefits

Downsizing to a smaller home can help you minimize your stress and improve your overall quality of life. A smaller home will be easier to clean and maintain and can free up some room in your budget. More financial freedom can give you more money to travel or invest.

But before you get started, it’s essential to go into the downsizing process with a plan. Think about your desired lifestyle and what you’re hoping to accomplish. And you may want to research the steps you should take to sell your home first.

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Jamie Johnson

Jamie Johnson is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who writes about a variety of personal finance topics, including loans, building credit, and paying down debt. She currently writes for clients like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Insider, and Bankrate.