In 2002, our boys were little. We moved from Ohio to North Carolina and built a house in the ‘burbs. It had everything we could want, four bedrooms, a playroom, office, formal dining room and a separate bathroom for the kids. We had a large back yard with the swing set, a deck, trees to climb and a quiet street for bike riding. Of course, we added the portable basketball hoop in the driveway. Idyllic!
And then they grew up. Well, there’s still one left, but she’s pretty low maintenance overall. GIve her a bedroom with a ceiling fan, her own bathroom and a place to practice trumpet, and she’s content. Well, she likes to claim the corner spot on the sectional sofa when we watch movies, but otherwise, she’s low maintenance as teens go!
Downsizing your home starts with knowing when it’s time to go!
We weren’t planning to downsize until after our daughter finished high school, but sometimes life interrupts and downsizing your home comes sooner than expected.
A little over a year ago, we realized a few things:
- While my husband loves his new job in the big city, he does not like the commute. Not. At. All! And neither do we! Two hours lost each day to the commute is hardly fun.
- As our daughter prepared for the transition to high school, many of her friends are districted to a different school in our area. She’s going to be making new friends, no matter where we live!
- We despise having to heat, cool and clean a house that hardly gets used! Seriously 3,250 square feet is a lot of space for three people and a small dog. Ellie confiscated her brother’s rarely used bedroom as her personal “office” and her other brother’s never used room for her music space. The bonus room never got used at all. It just sat. Empty of people but full of stuff to vacuum and dust.
As the frustration at spending weekends cleaning and paying to heat and cool unused spaces grew, we found ourselves wishing for retirement.
Then, as my husband’s commute grew longer and more tiring — thanks to suburban growth and construction projects — his happiness with his new job wore off. He took the job for a better quality of life, which it provided, EXCEPT FOR the miserable commute!
One day, it all came to a head. He came home one day telling me that when we are ready to move, he’s got a realtor who comes highly recommended in Raleigh.
It didn’t take much to jump from “some day” to NOW! I called the realtor and scheduled an appointment to meet with her.
We talked with her about our goals for downsizing your home, such as home size, neighborhood amenities and location. She took us to several different neighborhoods to see the options in our area.
In no time, we found a new community in Raleigh that seemed perfect and signed on the dotted line. We committed to building a townhouse only 15 minutes from his office. No yard to mow, but a pool, gym and dog park to enjoy.
TIPS TO START DOWNSIZING YOUR HOME
If you are considering downsizing your home, here are some tips to get started:
- Think about how you use your current space. Rooms full of stuff that you never use can probably be downsized easier than you think.
- Think about your goals for downsizing your home. Our goals were three-fold: less time maintaining a house we don’t use, less cost heating and cooling a home by eliminating unneeded spaces, and lower mortgage. We actually moved and eliminated the mortgage entirely! Yep, I’m 53 and mortgage free!!! YAY!
- Start living with less as you work toward downsizing your home. We cleaned out the pantry and stuffed kitchen cupboards to get rid of things we don’t ever use. We kept paring down until we knew how much stuff we really wanted to have in our new, downsized kitchen. That helped us know what size house was a reasonable next step.
- Repeat that process with your closet — yes, get rid of those shoes you don’t wear! We actually have empty shelves in our new, downsized bedroom closet!
- Repeat that process with “stuff.” That was the hardest part for me, but I got better at it as time went along. As I went through the kids’ things, I kept the few that really spoke to my heart. I asked them if they wanted me to keep some other things. And, I took photos of their childhood art projects that didn’t make the cut. Really, how many handprint wreaths do I need?
Downsizing your home means making some tough choices, but taking care of less stuff is liberating! If you are considering downsizing your home for retirement, downsizing your house to save money or simply downsizing your life, I assure you, it gets easier as you see the benefits of downsizing the family home. When you’re ready to take the plunge, you’ll know.
Welcome to Our new house
Our new home is 1,931 square feet, about 40% smaller than the house in the ‘burbs. It’s a three story townhome, with a rec room on the first floor. Some day, it will be Rob’s man cave, but for now, it’s a quiet space to read a book or play piano.
The second floor is our main living area, with a large living room that is open to the kitchen and dining “room.” In all seriousness, the dining room is a smidge smaller than our breakfast room at the house in the suburbs, but plenty big enough to seat six. As for the kitchen, it’s about half the size of our old one.
That’s been a bit of a challenge, though now that we’re settled, it really works great. Of all aspects of downsizing your home, I think the kitchen is the most challenging. But, adding pull out shelves to maximize the smaller storage space helps.
And the top floor has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. They’re all a lot smaller than what we had, but still hold beds and dressers. Our clothes fit in the closets — thanks to some careful planning and my husband’s handy skills. He added shelving to improve storage, though some day I hope to have a custom closet that uses the space even more efficiently — and perhaps looks a little prettier. And the bathrooms, while small, have all the essentials.
What’s next For our Downsized home
We’ve been in our a few months, and honestly, we’re just starting to feel settled. All the boxes are unpacked, but nothing is hung on the walls yet. We haven’t painted anything. And, we really need to get some window coverings — those paper shades won’t work forever!
But for now, we’re enjoying having more time together, meeting the neighbors and enjoying a more relaxed life.
In the coming months, I’ll share more about our downsized life — from decorating a cookie cutter townhouse to make it unique, to how our new lifestyle is working out.
What are your thoughts on downsizing your home (now or someday or never)? Let’s chat about the downsizing life! The good, the bad, and everything in between.
For now, I’m off to the pool!