Deciding to downsize – questions to consider

Deciding to downsize - moving truck and sunshine graphicWhether it’s called downsizing or rightsizing, if you are deciding to downsize you’ll want to start by considering a few basic questions.
  • What are the main goals with selling your current home and moving to something smaller?
    • Do you want less to maintain (home, yard, both?)
    • Are the reasons primarily economic? (i.e., smaller home is less expensive to heat, cool, maintain, or cash out , or sell to get rid of the mortgage, or something else)
  • Would you prefer to stay close to where you live now, or to relocate?
  • What kind of living space would be ideal for your next home? Do you want a yard or patio? Do you want to be in a seniors community? Would you prefer more rural or more urban than what you have currently?

Deciding to downsize can be for people in many different decades of their lives

 

Some people drastically change their house or move somewhere smaller (or more remote / less expensive) the moment the youngest child has packed up and gone away to college. They may be in their 50s or 60s and still relatively young, working, and saving for retirement. I’ve seen people sell in Los Altos, Saratoga, and Cupertino to economically downsize to Almaden or nearby areas when they no longer wanted to pay to live in a more expensive school district.

 

Others keep the “family home” as long as possible. My grandparents moved many times in their lives due to my grandfather’s military career, but in their retirement years they enjoyed a large home with room for everyone to visit – and we all did. They were 90 and 92 when they moved from their 5 bedroom house at Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz to Dominican Oaks, a retirement community just a few miles from there. At their ages, more help was needed. (For my grandmother, moving to a community was wonderful socially, as she wasn’t still driving at 90.)

 

If you are deciding to downsize, you could be at either of these ends of the spectrum,  or you could be anywhere in between. It’s a huge gamut and there’s no “one size fits all” or one “right answer” with this topic.

 

What makes you consider rightsizing?

 

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Time to downsize but don’t want condo living?

At some point, the family home may become too much work, expense, and worry for seniors and the decision may be looming about when and how to downsize.   There are many decisions to be made, including:

  • What to keep, what to give to relatives and friends, sell, donate or throw out?
  • How big of a space should the next home be?
  • What type of housing should be targeted – a condo, townhouse, apartment, senior living community, duplex, smaller house or cottage, duet or something else?
  • Is a home with stairs an option?
  • Is outside space a requirement?
  • Will the next home be purchased or rented?
  • Is outside care needed?

Particularly for those accustomed to a large house and garden or yard, going to a living arrangement with shared walls and no yard may not be appealing.   An option for those wishing to buy(and are still very independent) that is sometimes missed is a type of housing which is sort of a gray area, and those are houses held in condominium ownership (such as the Villas of Almaden), as well as patio homes (as we see in some of the Almaden Winery neighborhood).  In both cases, as well as in some planned unit developments, there’s a home owner’s association which will usually do all of the front yard landscaping.  If the back yard is small, it’s possible to have it planted in a low-maintenance manner to maximize your enjoyment while minimizing the yard work.

As part of your recon efforts, be sure to sit down and discuss your thoughts, hopes, wants and needs with a good Realtor familiar with the area where you want to live.  He or she can point out potential alternatives or options that you may not even know exist.

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When A Parent Has To Sell The House