Doing more with less is exactly what drives many homeowners to downsize. If that sounds like you, these tips can help:
1. Organize and donate.
Go through your closets, garage, basement, and attic and remove what you no longer need. Typically, if you haven’t used an item in a year or more, you’re not likely to miss it. Keep what you want; sell what you don’t. If you can’t sell an item on a site like Craigslist, OfferUp, or Facebook Marketplace, look into donating it. There are plenty of secondhand stores and local non-profits that accept donations.
2. Store what you don’t donate.
Whether it’s old records, family photos, or antique furniture you can’t part with, consider renting a monthly self-storage unit. For many homeowners, a storage unit can be a temporary solution until you decide where to permanently house some of these important items. Looking for a smaller home with storage—like a basement, garage, or backyard shed—may provide a solution.
3. Contact a junk removal company.
What about the stained couches and broken exercise equipment you’ve been meaning to get rid of? Research some local junk removal services and set up a time for pickup. Some companies will allow you to text images of the junk you’d like removed before providing you with a price quote. If you’re cleaning up your home to sell it, you may be able to include branches, dirt, and yard debris in the pickup too.
4. Make use of your equity.
The National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report showed that almost 30 percent of all homebuyers moved due to life changes—including marriage, empty nest, and retirement—while “downsizing” was most prevalent among homeowners ages 57 and older.
For many of today’s homeowners, home equity makes this possible. The average homeowner has gained $14,300 in equity in the past year, according to CoreLogic numbers. Depending on how long you’ve owned your home, you may have more than enough equity to cover a new home’s down payment, potentially helping to reduce your monthly mortgage payment.
A bigger home isn’t always better. Reach out to a local Loan Officer to talk about your options.
5. Seek out an affordable city.
If you’re planning to relocate, now’s an ideal time to find a city that supports your new lifestyle—i.e., one with a lower cost of living. Moving to more affordable metros is a trend among today’s homebuyers. Many have sought out less pricey cities like San Antonio, as opposed to San Francisco, to help stretch their housing budget. Detroit, Memphis, Baltimore, and Milwaukee are other top affordable cities.
6. Invest in multi-purpose furniture.
One way to make more out of less is by purchasing space-saving furniture. A wall desk isn’t just a smart pick for a dorm room; it can help you free up space in a townhome or condo. Other space-savers include a daybed, a rolling kitchen island, decorative storage (like an ottoman with built-in storage), and a fold-out table. If necessary, do a second sweep of your belongings and sell or donate large and bulky pieces of furniture.
7. Consider added costs and maintenance.
If you’re moving to conserve costs, as many downsizers are, make sure you know what you’re getting into. While a condo may have less square footage, it could come with a monthly HOA fee. For some homebuyers, this is a deal-breaker, while it can be a lifesaver for others hoping to cut down on home maintenance. That said, a condo with amenities might be money-saving if you no longer have to pay for a gym membership.
Maintenance may also be a concern when purchasing a smaller house. If you’re downsizing because you no longer want to keep up with lawn care, look for a patio home or one with xeriscaping. If you typically outsource your lawn care, note that these services may cost less in a city with a lower cost of living.