By Scott Gaertner
Americans have been conditioned to believe that success and growth are tied to bigger and better, so a choice to live in a smaller space with less stuff can be confusing. As a Scottsdale North real estate broker, I talk to a lot of folks about downsizing, and I can tell you that folks struggle with this for years. This difficulty is so prevalent that we do regular downsizing seminars just to help folks get past their fears. For those of you just starting the process, smaller can be better so let’s take a look at the issue. More or less . . .
Advantages to Downsizing
More Money. If you’re spending less on your mortgage payment, you are likely to have money left over every month to allocate to other needs or desires. Or perhaps you could pay cash for a smaller home from the proceeds of your existing home. We helped a client pull $300,000 out of their home by moving less than 10 miles away from their Scottsdale North home. They are now in a great area, in the same size house that was 12 years newer than the one we sold for them and are very happy.
More Time. Fewer rooms and smaller spaces cut down on the time expended to clean and maintain. Smaller homes can reduce the time spent on household tasks, leaving more hours in the day to do something else more enjoyable.
Less Utility Bills. It costs a lot less to heat/air condition a smaller home than larger. Typically, there is no wasted space such as vaults in a smaller home. Less square footage decreases the amount of energy expended.
Less Stress. Less responsibility, smaller workload, increased cash flow and greater flexibility — added together, they all reduce stress. Homeowners who have successfully downsized sometimes appear happier when they’re no longer overwhelmed by the demands of a larger home.
Disadvantages to Home Downsizing:
Less Room For Your Stuff: Moving to a smaller home would probably result in selling, giving away or donating furniture, books, kitchen supplies and emptying out the garage, basement, and attic. Some people form emotional attachments to stuff and can’t part with any of it. We ran a downsizing seminar in August, and it became very clear that this was the hardest part for many people. (We have some great solutions if you are in this group.)
Less Room For Guests. Hosting a huge holiday dinner might be out of the question in a smaller home. Out-of-town guests might need to stay at a hotel when they come to visit.
More Change. Change is hard and it doesn’t seem to get easier as we get older. Especially for long-term homeowners, trading down means changing a lifestyle, and some people are resistant to change. There is a certain comfort level obtained by staying with what is familiar. This is even more true if you live in a lifestyle community that has always represented a lifestyle you love.
The vast majority of our clients who downsize discover that they need far less than they thought to be happy. If you’re curious about whether downsizing your home could change your life for the better, ask a real estate agent to show you how much your home is worth with a comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA shows you how homes similar to yours in your area have sold—giving you the information you need to decide what’s best for you and your budget. Let us know if we can help.
Scott Gaertner is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams Northeast Realty, who for the past 25+ years has helped more people to find their lifestyle niche in the Scottsdale North area than anyone else.