The bulk of money and real estate experts laud downsizing as a fabulous way to get ahead, not just financially, but also socially, physically and mentally. The common advice to declutter and move to a smaller space is not as one size fits all as you might believe, however. In fact, some pretty compelling facts support the concept of staying right where you are with what you have.
Saving Money Might Be a Pipe Dream
Most homeowners who downsize do so in hopes that the move will cut their expenses. For example, they rationalize that they'll come out ahead with a lower mortgage, reduced heating and cooling expenses and a trimmed-down insurance package. Unfortunately, other costs can negate what you might save. Taxes might be higher in your new neighborhood, for instance, or you could have new homeowners' association fees to cover. You also need to consider the expenses related to the move, such as truck rental, closing fees, buying new furnishings, making necessary modifications or repairs, closing and opening utility accounts and travelling back to see friends and family members after you're settled.
Even if you end up saving money when your downsizing process is complete, you still might lose out if you aren't smart with the funds the move generates. If you are tempted to throw the extra cash into “dead” purchases like cars or vacations, which don't provide a continuing stream of income, you might end up on less stable financial ground than if you had stayed put.
Reputable estate agents and other professional companies work hard to make your move as seamless as possible. Even so, downsizing is work–as in, a lot of work. It can be stressful to go through everything simply because of the physical energy it takes, but there are other emotional components, too. What you have likely has memories attached, and letting go of your stuff might feel like you have to let go of who you are. You also might disagree with your family members about what to keep and what to toss, which can mean big conflicts. Downsizing also can mean going to an entirely new neighborhood, which might widen the gap between you and your loved ones. Although that offers a great opportunity to make new friends, you might struggle as you distance yourself from those you care about.
Loss of Status
To many people, having a lot of possessions or a large house stands makes a statement. It shows that they have worked hard, played by the rules and earned some luxury. When you downsize, you have to distance yourself from this ideology. Your sense of accomplishment cannot have a material measure anymore, so you might feel a stark loss of prestige or embarrassment, even though you know that the downsizing process makes logical sense. Others might make this problem worse by asking you why you're giving up what you have or prodding to find out if you're in financial need.
Somefind that, after many years of living in a community or raising their children, their home has become a sort of Mecca. In other words, it's a centralizing point where loved ones know they can come for support and company. If this is the case for you, you might need to consider how disruptive it really would be if you transferred to a new place. What if you couldn't entertain? Moving to a new place wouldn't necessarily be bad in terms of encouraging independence in others. However, it might not be worth it if the downsize would completely unravel critical links within your family and friend network.
Downsizing can be good in that being in closer quarters can encourage better and more frequent communication. Nevertheless, in a smaller property, you'll likely have less privacy than if you had more room to spread out. If you're more of an introvert, then a smaller space might do nothing but grate on your nerves.
Smaller properties usually mean less cleaning, but they also can become cluttered very quickly. That can lead to functionality issues and feelings of anxiety. You probably will need to be much more critical about what and how much you buy after you get into your new property. This could make you feel like it's hard to be spontaneous and enjoy yourself.
Downsizing indisputably is the right choice for many individuals and families. Still, it's not appropriate for everybody. In some cases, it might be more trouble than it's worth. Before moving forward, weigh these disadvantages against the potential benefits carefully.
Nicholas Moore has carved out a career in property and understands the pros and cons of downsizing. He enjoys sharing his insights with an online audience and writes for a variety of property and lifestyle websites.