How to Downsize Your Home and Upgrade Your Lifestyle
It’s the circle of homeownership – as your family grows, so does your house. Is all that space worth the trade of less financial stress and more freedom? That’s why downsizing your home can be an excellent option for your lifestyle as well as your bank account. Canadians typically downsize for several reasons, to increase their monthly retirement savings, pay off their mortgage, or reduce payments, and more. If this sounds like the solution for you, but not sure where to start? Here are the five steps we recommend you take to downsize your home:
1. Make a list of Essentials
- A lot of people look at downsizing their home as an opportunity to declutter, and it’s true! The first step to downsizing your home is taking a look around and asking yourself, “what do I need?” Making a list of essentials will help you to sort the treasures from the trash, but it will also help you decide what you must-have for your new home. Two washrooms? A home office? A spare bedroom for the kids when they go off to college? Use this downsizing checklist as a starting point to help you decide:
- Large Kitchen
- Dining Room
- Home Office
- Playroom/Family Room
- Finished Basement
- Kids Bedroom
- Spare Bedroom
- Additional Closet Space
- Storage Space
- Multiple Washrooms
- Ensuite Washroom
- In-Home Laundry
- Air Conditioning
- Covered Garage
- Outdoor Space (i.e., Balcony)
- Easy Transit Access
- Traffic Controlled Neighbourhood
- Amenities Access (i.e., walking distance from restaurants)
2. Calculate the Costs
Before jumping into home renovations, take the time to calculate the costs involved. That way, you can stay within your budget and develop a timeline so you know when you can put your current home on the market, and when you should start looking for a new smaller home. Here are just a couple of items you should calculate the cost behind, before getting started:
- Renovations to prepare for sale (does your decor need an upgrade?)
- New furniture or appliances (what if your sectional is too big for your new living room?)
- Moving expenses (like time off work and moving trucks)
- Property taxes (what are they compared to what you’re paying now?)
- Storage (will you need to rent a storage unit or build a shed?)
- Parking (do you have enough spots or will you have to pay?)
- Condo Fees (remember they increase over time!)
3. Declutter Your Home
It can be hard to declutter your home, especially when it means letting go of items of sentimental value. Follow these practical tips to get it done efficiently, room by room:
- Focus on one space at a time, do not multi-task!
- Decide each item as you go.
- Sort all items into three categories: Use, Store, and Recycle.
- Go through your wardrobe; if you have not worn an article in the last 12 months, donate it.
- Sort through old technology and recycle it properly (VCR, old phones, DVDs, CDs, cords, etc.)
- Try to keep flat surfaces clear of clutter
- Avoid junk drawers, sort items into categories like tools and crafts
- Donate, repair, and upcycle as much as possible
4. Prepare For Sale
An essential step in downsizing is, of course, finding a buyer for your current home. You need to make sure you’re doing the necessary prep work and investing your renovation money where it’s going to give you the most in return.
Two of the most critical areas to consider for upgrade are the kitchen and the washroom. A deal can fall through because of outdated kitchen appliances and cabinets, or it can be sealed with a modern ensuite.
5. Find Your New Home
Now you’re ready for the most exciting part – finding your new home! You can search for listings to get a sense of what’s currently available on your own, or you can reach out to our team for help finding the best opportunities. Once you’ve gone through the process of selling your old home and buying your new one, it’s time to redo your household budget! Increase loan payments to save on interest, create a “holiday savings fund,” include appliance and home upgrades into your annual budget – the money saved is yours to spend!
Should you sell your home first, or buy it? When is the right time in the market to downsize? Our Team can help you find the answers.