Whether moving across the street or across the country, when there is a change in the size of a living space, there is a lot to think about with many pro’s and con’s to consider. Finding the right sized space is easier if you consider your lifestyle now and how it might change in this new space. Understanding your reasons, hopes and goals in transitioning to the new sized home is the biggest key to your success. The clearer and better prepared you are to transition to the new sized home, the bigger benefits you will receive in the short term. You can fix your errors over time, but often there are costs associated with that, so getting things “right” in the beginning is worth your time and effort.
Money – value or savings, often top the list for a size change. Often, people downsize thinking that they will save money; some people take equity from their larger home and use that money for other ventures. Upsizing during a buyer’s market can get you a good deal on a larger home. Either way, if money is the focus, remember that as you look at the home. Sometimes the savings is not as big as you think, or you can quickly get in over your head. A smaller home in a more desirable location might cost you more than your large home in a less sought-after area.
Lifestyle – changes in family size, job status, retirement or health top the list for lifestyle changes that prompt size changes. While money may still play a role, if your reasons for changing the size of your home are “lifestyle related” then you will want to keep this focus.
Many housing markets are providing buyers with opportunities to “upsize” – getting more house for the money and great values for the housing dollar. Going up in size when you have been living in a small space can be quite appealing, though surprisingly there are some challenges, too.
• Finally – you have more storage and space to move!
• Additional bathrooms allow more privacy and easier morning routines
• Additional bedrooms ease strain on family members and encourage guests
• Larger kitchens enable cooks to do their job with ease
• Added space can accommodate a home business or hobbies
• Larger homes also often have added amenities like larger lot size, lawns and landscaping in addition to more space inside the home
• In a larger home there may be more walking, more stairs, and facilities may or may not be as convenient
• Costs of heating and cooling will be higher
• Maintenance costs are often higher
• Property taxes may be higher
• More and possibly larger rooms may require more furniture or the scale of the furniture that you do have is off – so additional decorating expenses will be incurred
• Attics, basements, garages, sheds and storage areas need to be organized, and sometimes heated, cooled, or dehumidified to prevent items stored there from becoming ruined
• Lawns, landscaping and larger lots require care and maintenance which can be costly and a lot of work
If you are upsizing at the same time that a family or friend is downsizing, you might walk into a great deal on furniture, tools, lawn-mowers or other must-haves for your new home. Check out Craigslist and local garage sales to score great finds and help you to get to know the new neighborhood. Weigh the cost and benefits of moving furniture long distances. Treasured family heirlooms will likely remain on the moving list while less favored items may not be worthy of moving. And, don’t forget rentals – there are actually places that can rent furniture while you make up your mind about what you want or can afford.
Do some planning for your new space. Magazines and the internet are filled with ideas that may provide inspiration for you, or consider working with an interior designer. Take photos of the new space and measurements of the rooms so you can better understand the opportunities and constraints of your new home. Consider the condition of the walls and floors, windows and lighting as you go. Painting and work on the floors is much easier to achieve if the room is already empty. For improvements, if you can make decisions on color and materials, and schedule workers, completing improvements prior to moving in can save a lot of time and effort.
If you have never owned a home before, it can be a big task to take on a large space. Often your realtor will know of reliable professionals to help accomplish home improvements. Your excitement and enthusiasm will take you far, and remember: you don’t have to do it all at once. Create a prioritized list for the new space, knowing you still have your day-to-day life to live while getting settled in your new home.
Sometimes a desirable location translates to a smaller home, or perhaps you are consciously choosing to reduce your space. Whatever the case, if you are moving from a larger home to a smaller one, chances are “stuff issues” will top your list. Knowing this when you are looking may be useful for you to see how much you can fit into the new space and what you need to part with. For some people, this is an emotional time. Falling in love with the new space can be a key to success. Your realtor can help you to find the right small space for you, only you can find the right space for your stuff.
• Finally – you are not paying to heat and/or cool rooms that you rarely use!
• It is convenient to have rooms closer together – often there is less walking
• There is less to clean and to organize
• Maintenance chores are often less, with smaller rooms, fewer windows, floors, less roof, etc.
• Perhaps you are seeing a reduction in property tax or mortgage
• Often you have less to take care of in the way of property and landscaping
• Often you have to make some tough decisions regarding “stuff”
• Your furniture might be “off” in scale, better suited to a larger home
• Fewer bedrooms and/or bathrooms sometimes require planning for family and guests
• Cooking in a smaller kitchen is different, and storage for kitchen tools and food might require thought
Enlist the help of a professional. Recent trends in lifestyle management have spawned personal and professional coaches, as well as professionals who help with organization and clutter management. These professional organizers make it their business to know the best way to clear your closets, storage areas and generally handle and manage your stuff.
If you feel overwhelmed and can afford their help, they might even save you money in the end by reducing the need to rent storage, saving you from moving unneeded items, and helping you sell some of the more valuable things. And, while they are not interior designers, professional organizers have seen a lot of homes and know the most attractive ideas for using your space. If you are trying to sell a larger home while planning for the move to your smaller space, professional organizers can also aid you and your realtor in staging the home you are selling, gaining you twice the return on their services!
When downsizing, consider the features of the home that you use the most. Will you be doing the same things in the new home, or is there going to be a lifestyle change, too? Ensure that you compare what you are currently doing in each of these areas, and how that will have to change in the new space.
In the kitchen: If you are currently using many different kitchen tools, but moving into a home with a smaller kitchen – will you need to get rid of tools? Or will you find or create storage space in the new kitchen? Perhaps you are moving to a place with great restaurants – but can you afford to eat out a lot? Often you will need to plan for less pantry space, too.
In bathrooms: You will often be faced with towel and linen storage designed for a smaller dwelling, and vanities that are in keeping with smaller spaces. This can translate into crowded medicine cabinets and stuffed drawers, so even everyday things like personal care products become “stuff issues.” Consider buying smaller containers and filling them from larger bottles – your small space doesn’t have to be crowded if you can plan and get creative. Keep only the best of your towels and linens, and that which you really need.
Changing the size of your space may or may not benefit you financially, but the change in lifestyle will not be missed. It is an opportunity to re-evaluate your belongings and your relationship with the space you have and use. Sometimes, it even means looking at the way you do things, and why. Changing the size of your space is essentially an opportunity to get to know yourself all over again, in a very conscious way. Tackling these challenges and viewing them as opportunities will result in a new home that is suited to you and your needs. Bigger or smaller, be sure you make it just like you want it.