Are you considering down-sizing?
Don’t wait to downsize
If you have been thinking about downsizing, it’s probably time to do it. There are lots of reasons that people decide to give up their large homes; their kids have moved out, they have paid off their home, they are tired of cleaning so much house, or they don’t want the upkeep of a large outdoor space. If any of these reasons have crossed your mind, don’t hesitate.
Downsizing takes a little preparation and often people wait until there is an illness or a family crisis that forces them into a rushed move. It’s better to move while you are healthy and can take a few months to plan. It’s never ideal to deal with moving and a family crisis simultaneously if you can help it.
What should you be thinking about before making the big move? Have a look through these tips to make sure its right for you.
1. Is moving the right move?
Often, there’s pressure to downsize from friends and family because of market conditions or to suit their own plans. Often time people get pushed into circumstances by well-meaning other parties, because they think it’s a good time for their acquaintances or relatives to make the move.
Instead, move when it makes sense for you. You might want to put off downsizing, for instance, until you’re older and less active, or until you know more about where the kids and grandkids want to settle. Or you may not want to downsize at all. You need a moving plan that fits your needs, and to do whatever is best to make your life more comfortable.
2. Can you age into your house?
Many people move into homes that won’t necessarily work for them as they age. That’s fine for those who retire early and don’t mind a second move a few decades later, though they’ll pay land transfer taxes, realtor’s fees and moving costs again. Carri Hand, assistant professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Western University, says downsizers should choose accommodations they can age into.
For instance, look for houses or condos without barriers like stairs, narrow doorways and long driveways. Properties with acres of land will also require physically intensive maintenance. “Almost everybody who’s aging is wondering what’s down the road,” she says, so think ahead when it comes to a new home.
3. Is the neighbourhood right for you?
Choosing the right locale is key for downsizers. Some want to be close to nightlife, others to health-care facilities – often it’s both. “Make sure there are all the supports in your new neighbourhood to allow you to continue to do what matters to you,” says Hand.
Ease of travel is important, too, which could be a problem if you want to live in a small town with no transit. Ideally, move near bus routes and amenities like grocery stores, community centres, libraries and hospitals.
4. Will you save money?
Many people downsize because they need the money they’ve saved up in their homes. But, before making the decision to sell, do the math: Buying a condo in a hot urban area, like downtown Toronto or Vancouver, can cost a pretty penny. In fact, depending on where you live now, it can be more expensive to buy a smaller place.
In that case, you may want to consider renting, however, money isn’t always the deciding factor on choosing whether to rent or buy. Some people rent because it's all that’s available in the area they want to live in – and geography is the number one factor in determining where people downsize to – while others may want access to the funds made off their house. Renting means a person is unlocking the equity in their current home, which could be invested to grow or to offset rental costs going forward.
If finances are a motivation to move, make sure you do the math to see what makes the most sense.
Enlist your family and friends to help
If you are an empty nester, chances are you have a house full of items that your kids will be clambering to get their hands on. That is all the more helpful to you when it comes time to make the big purge. But make sure to set a time limit for items to be retrieved. Ideally, you should give yourself six months to get the necessary arrangements taken care of before the big move. Anything that isn’t going to the new place and isn’t collected by family and friends by that date should be sold or donated.