It’s an all too familiar story. That beautiful home where the kids were raised now seems like a waste of space, and the sprawling lawn is too difficult to maintain. “Financial circumstances change. Happy marriages break up. Some people are finally realizing that living large in a picture-perfect McMansion does not always equate to the good life. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t all sunshine and unicorns,” writes Tiffany Maberry in Apartment Guide Blog.
So how do you know if it’s time for you to downsize from a house to a condo? If you downsize, then what do you do with all your stuff? It takes some planning, but streamlining your lifestyle by moving to a smaller space can be a very worthwhile change.
Who Should Downsize?
“Seniors, empty nesters or people moving from a suburban home to a city apartment all face the challenge of creating a new living space with limited room for furniture, accessories, clothes and collectibles,” Jenna Pizzigati tells HGTV. However, it doesn’t have to be a time of sadness. According to real estate agent Brian Schwatka, “Downsizing can and should be a fun, memorable time with your friends and family.”
There are some significant advantages to downsizing from a house to a condo. First and foremost on the list is that condos typically require less maintenance. No longer will you spend your weekends mowing the lawn, pressure washing the driveway and weeding the flower beds. “Fewer household chores will free up more time to do the things you really love, whether it’s spending time with family and friends, exploring your city, or getting some much needed shut eye,” Maberry says.
Minimize and Declutter
Moving to a smaller home means you’ll have less space for all of your belongings. “The biggest issue is people don’t edit,” says designer Jane Hamilton of JAC Interiors. “They want to bring too much stuff with them and don’t realize every little corner should have a purpose or function. With some planning, a shelf can become your whole home office or a corner becomes an art studio.”
If you’re moving with kids, include them in the process. If they’re struggling with the move, remind them that people are more important than things. Encourage them to exchange phone numbers and e-mails so they can keep in touch with the people nearby, and then make the move sound more adventurous by talking about what condo living will mean for them. “Kids will become excited when they start learning about their new community, the on-site playground and the swimming pool they’ll have at their disposal,” Maberry writes.
Moving to a smaller space means you’re getting rid of a lot. However, don’t toss everything just yet. If you might move back into a house one day, consider storing items in a self-storage unit. Items like power tools, lawn mowers, and outdoor furniture can be expensive to replace if you end up having a yard again in the future.
What Condo Is Right for You?
If you’re considering a move to a smaller location, there are some steps you can take to make sure you choose the condo that’s right for you. According to FOX Business Network writer Barbara Mannino, you should do the following:
- Review the financials of the condo association to make sure it is financially healthy.
- Find out what residents have been complaining about when you read the last two years’ of meeting minutes.
- Read the association’s rules, regulations and bylaws. “There’s nothing worse than being attached to your golden retriever and the condo bylaws limit dogs to 40 pounds or forbids pets,” says Gael Mennecke, executive director of Illinois’ Association of Condominium, Townhouse and Homeowners Associations.
- Look over the community newsletter. If they don’t have one, try to find out why.
- Set realistic expectations about living surrounded by neighbors. Your condo will be noisier than your single family home; expect that.
Downsizing from a house to condo living is a dream come true for many families who report that they enjoy being surrounded by the community they love, that they no longer have to worry about maintenance, and that they have the freedom to spend more time with family. If you find that condo living isn’t right for you, with your extra belongings in a self-storage unit, you can always go back to living in a larger space. But you might be one of the many happy homeowners who say downsizing was the best decision they ever made.
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