How to downsize your home can be a difficult thing to do. You’ve lived in your home for years and know it inside and out, but now that you have the need to downsize, it’s time to prepare yourself for a major change in life. If you’re ready to begin downsizing your home, here are seven tips to help you get started.
1) Consider a new neighborhood
Moving to a new neighborhood might be easier than you think; it could also save you money. Instead of buying a smaller home, consider moving to an area with lower housing costs. According to Zillow, living near public transportation can save homeowners as much as 12 percent in annual transportation expenses when compared with those who drive everywhere.
This, in turn, will allow for more money for your retirement and other savings goals. The key is to choose an area where homes are affordable but close enough to major metropolitan areas so that you aren’t stranded too far from employment options or medical facilities.
2) Negotiate with movers
You should be able to work out a rate with movers by negotiating with them. Just because you have multiple companies asking for your business doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t negotiate.
You don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to move from your three-bedroom home into a two-bedroom condo. The trick is that you need to know how much items typically cost movers and then try to get it down from there, using their initial estimate as leverage.
If they say something will cost $3,000 but its market value is $2,000, for example, offer them $1,500 knowing that it will probably work in your favor.
3) Look at rentals
Moving into a smaller home can save you time and money. The key to downsizing your space is to identify what you don’t use very often, find new homes for those items (such as selling them on eBay or Craigslist), and make sure you know where to put everything else when it’s not in use.
To get started with downsizing your home, start by looking at different rental options that offer smaller living spaces, such as apartments or townhouses. Not only will living in a small space help you save money over time, but it can also give you back some of your lost freedom—your kids will be out of college before you know it!
4) Decide what’s most important
I’ve done it! I’ve finally done it! I am officially an empty nester. Yep, my youngest is living on her own in college so now I have an empty nest (and a lot of space).
Now that your kids are out of the house, it’s time to take a look at what is most important to you! Does a smaller home fit your lifestyle better? Are you having to pay bills on a home that you no longer need? Is there too much space? Do you want to travel? Will you be vacationing more often?
I’m not here to suggest any of these to you, but it is important that you decide what the next chapter looks like so you can determine if a new, smaller home is exactly what you need.
5) Arrange storage for items you aren’t sure about yet
If you’re an empty nester, it might be time to start downsizing. From your furniture to personal belongings, there are many opportunities to get rid of what you don’t need. But, a lot of these opportunities also come with questions:
Where will I store my golf clubs?
Who will take care of my car if I sell it?
You can get rid of lots of things and still keep them if you make arrangements for storage—even if those arrangements involve renting space in a warehouse or storing items at your local grocery store.
Don’t leave questions like these unanswered until after you downsize; instead, find solutions now so that downsizing is more manageable when the time comes.
6) Embrace technology
Technology is a big part of how we live our lives these days, so why not embrace it when downsizing? You could get rid of many papers and documents by scanning them into your computer.
It’s also a good idea to take advantage of cloud-based storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive to store important photos, files and other documents that don’t need to be kept in paper form.
If you have hard copies you don’t want to toss out, consider making digital copies of everything important and getting rid of those old binders and boxes of documents taking up space in your home office.
7) Start blogging
According to a report by The Huffington Post, many empty nesters aren’t preparing for life after kids. They aren’t downsizing their homes or putting aside money for retirement and don’t have plans in place should one of them become ill. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make whatever choice you want and you can pay it forward by sharing your story via blog! If you do end up downsizing and having great experience with a local real estate agent, blog about it and make sure people know!