I’ve been working with a few clients this year that are retiring. Some have received a severance package from work while others have just decided to call it quits after many years of work. For them, downsizing often comes up because they:
- Would like to start a new, simpler phase of their lives
- Are tired of the effort and cost of maintaining a large home
- Want to move to a place that will be easier to live in as they age
- Feel like they could save some money by downsizing
But will they really save money by downsizing? It’s not a given.
“Downsizing” has become a popular term referring to moving to a smaller, lower-maintenance home and getting rid of a lot of stuff. Over the last few decades, we have become a society of accumulators. We buy lots of stuff. Then, we need a place to store it. This has led to an explosion of the self-storage business. At some point many people realize they’ve just got too much stuff and they need to change their living situation.
Let’s take a look at 5 things you should consider before downsizing:
Plan your downsizing. Are you really downsizing or just changing your living arrangement? To some people, downsizing just means changing their living arrangement—not actually getting rid of stuff and reducing costs. We’ve had several clients tell us they were downsizing only to increase their housing costs by making the change. That’s not downsizing. Estimate the costs of your new living arrangement: mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance/condo fees, club memberships, etc.
Think about what you are downsizing to. Are you tired of climbing the stairs to your third-floor office? Or, do you want to make sure you still have stairs for built-in exercise? How much space will you need with no teenagers in the house? What about location? Do you want to be near the water, the mountains, a warmer climate, or family? We suggest trying to visualize your “happy place” and then writing it down.
Selling your house may mean spending money to fix it first. While your home may have been perfectly fine for you, buyers tend to want a blank canvas that is in perfect condition. Major issues such as plumbing, heating or electrical will need to be repaired or replace in order to pass inspection. And that weird color you painted your man-cave years ago?—that may need to be painted off-white.
Condos: Getting rid of home maintenance tasks comes with a cost. No more mowing lawns, fertilizing or watering may be your goal. But be careful. Condominiums can be a convenient solution because all exterior maintenance is covered. However, some associations may be behind in their maintenance and repair plans, have financial problems or have high condo fees. Check out the condo association first.
Parting with stuff you have not touched in 3 years. Some home organizers say that if you have not worn clothing in 3 years, you should give it away. What about grandma’s sewing machine that’s been in the corner of the basement for 20 years? Perhaps it is time. Take a picture and then give it away. Then you’ll always have the memory and the photo.
Downsizing is a big decision. Let us know if you are thinking about it. Give us a call. We’re here to help.
Lyman H. Jackson
Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) is a Registered Investment Advisor. FPS provides this blog for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, tax, or legal advice. FPS only renders personalized advice to each client after entering into an advisory relationship. Information herein includes opinions and forward-looking statements that may not come to pass. Information is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Information is at a point in time and subject to change without notice. Such information may not be independently verified by FPS. Please see important disclosures link at the bottom of this page.
 Studies have shown that people who write things down achieve their goals far quicker than those who do not.