A few decades ago, it was not uncommon for elderly parents to continue to live, and even die, in the same homes where they raised their children. As the adult children of these ailing parents can attest to, this is no walk in the park. Weekly visits to mow lawns and clear snow made more than one of these folks wish their parents had thought to move into a smaller abode while they were still healthy.
Nowadays, more and more people are deciding to sell their large family homes and move into a smaller house. And on average, people are doing it at a younger age. There are many reasons for this new trend of “downsizing” and myriad benefits for those who choose to do it.
Larger houses have steeper mortgages and higher energy costs. We all know that. But large houses tend to be more expensive for another reason. We feel compelled to fill them. More furniture. More knick-knacks. More stuff. While this isn’t true for every homeowner, scaling back in the size of home can lead to a bit of a lifestyle cull as well. It may help you from over spending, over charging, and over buying for your large home. With a smaller home, there just isn’t any room for extras!
Large houses tend to have large lawns, gardens, and driveways. Imagine the time you would save if you didn’t have to cut the lawn, manage your garden, or shovel any more snow. Imagine the money you would save on machinery and equipment too. The general upkeep of a house can be a strain on the wallet, but also a drain on your time and energy. What would you do with a handful of extra hours per week? From reading more books or picking your grandchildren up at school to acting on some of your annual New Year’s resolutions, the options are endless!
If clutter drives you crazy and the yearly yard sale you promise never seems to happen, deciding to move to smaller digs will definitely tip your hand. You’ll have no choice but to go through your possessions and decide what stays and what goes. And that’s a good thing. Clutter has been scientifically proven to be bad for our health. Neuroscientists at Princeton University have conducted studies, which show that excess things in our surroundings have a negative impact on our ability to focus and process information (https://paw.princeton.edu/article/psychology-your-attention-please). They compared people’s task performance in organized versus disorganized environments. The results show that physical clutter competes for our attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.
Smaller homes, condos, or apartments require you to be more creative in maximizing square footage. Nifty storage solutions (https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/organizing/smart-home-organizing-ideas) and clever organizational ideas can be fun to come up with. And if you’re handy, built-in shelving can be a cinch to create. For people who have complained of dusting unused surfaces or having to vacuum unused rooms, fitting into a smaller dwelling can feel like a happy problem. It also gives you a reason to read online articles you might have passed over before, such as “Small Space Alert! Four people and a dog in 180 square feet!”
The environment, your children, and your grandchildren will thank you for downsizing from a large house that is not particularly energy efficient to a smaller, more modern unit that is. And if you move into a city from a rural area, it also means less time spent in your car emitting greenhouse gases.
As we get older, it can become a little harder to get around. Downsizing from a large house with four floors to a ground-level bungalow can be easier on the knees in the long run! And if you choose to downsize when you’re 50, make sure you think about what you might need thirty years down the road. Investing in a main floor bed and bath, plus laundry, just makes sense.
More Peace of Mind
Less responsibility, increased cash flow, and more free time combine to reduce stress and increase levels of contentment. Many homeowners who have successfully downsized report they are happier, more at ease, and no longer overwhelmed by the demands of a larger home.