Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Downside of Downsizing your Home

For anyone who has been planning their retirement very long, you know the importance of having a balanced budget after you stop working.  For many people, an important part of their financial planning involves downsizing their home so they are better able to balance their income and expenses.  Frequently, this is referred to as simplifying your life.  Some people, however, have difficulty creating this simpler lifestyle for themselves, and this can cause serious financial problems.

Five Pitfalls to Consider when Downsizing Your Home

Here are some of the most common problems that people experience when they decide to downsize.  By being aware of them, you may be able to avoid them.

1.  Does moving to a smaller home mean that you will be renting storage space for all those items that will not fit in your home or garage?  When my husband and I first downsized from a large home to a small condo, we rented two storage units that were 10 x 20 feet in size.  We filled those storage units with extra bedroom furniture, formal living room furniture, boxes of books, old toys left behind by our children, lawn equipment and tools we no longer needed.  We stored those items for two years until we finally dispersed them among our adult children or gave them them away.  We spent over $350 a month in storage fees for those two years, which means we spent over $8400 to store things we neither wanted nor needed.  I hope that other people will avoid our mistake. Make sure you get rid of everything you no longer want before you move to a smaller residence!

2.  Are you planning to recreate the quality of your former house in your new home?  This is another common problem.  Many retirees are purchasing smaller, less expensive homes, and then spending tens of thousands of dollars more to decorate them with luxurious drapes and plantation shutters, or remodel them so they feature granite counters, custom cabinets, designer wallpapers, and upgraded flooring.  By the time they have recreated their old home, the retirees discover they are living in less space but spending almost as much money.

3.  Another temptation some retirees need to avoid is the idea that they are saving so much money on their primary residence that they can now afford to buy a second home, an RV or a timeshare.  Their monthly obligations can quickly grow to the point where the retirees are actually spending more in monthly living expenses than they had been spending prior to "downsizing!"

4.  One adjustment that may be difficult for many couples is the crowded living space.  Couples may become irritable with each other if they feel they no longer have their own space to pursue hobbies or just get away from each other to read, nap or relax.  When you downsize, make sure that each of you will still have some private space ... a home office, basement game room, or a bedroom that has been converted to a sewing or hobby room.

5.  Finally, before you move to a new neighborhood you need to give careful thought to what you will be leaving behind.  Will you miss your neighbors?  Will the move require you to change your church, find a new book club, or switch doctors and dentists?  Would it be possible for you to avoid some of these changes by downsizing to a nearby community rather than one in another town or state?  Make sure you are emotionally ready for any changes that will result from your move so you can avoid depression and similar psychological effects.  It may help if you choose a new location that is actually closer to some dear friends or family members.  This will lessen the pain of leaving other friends and family members behind.

Before you decide to sell your current home and move someplace smaller, you will need to plan carefully and have realistic expectations.  If your goal is to save money, make sure that the changes you make will achieve that goal, while minimizing the amount of disruption you will experience.   You want to have a balanced budget, but you will also want to have a satisfying life.  This has always been important to Baby Boomers and those two goals do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Downsizing or simplifying your life prior to retirement can make a lot of sense, if it is done right. Take your time, write out a budget and make sure that both of you are comfortable with the decision and the changes you will be making.

If you are preparing to retire, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional help articles on a wide variety of topics.

You may also be interested in reading:

The Best Sunny Places to Retire
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  1. Excellent cautions well worth sharing! Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming! Excellent at home


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