Moving into a smaller space can free up room in your budget and lighten your load. We explain how to do it right.

Many people downsize their homes because of retirement, divorce, or empty nests, but homeowners can do so at any life stage as their finances and priorities shift. Some people need to cut costs, while others find themselves drawn to minimalism.

Moving is always a major transition regardless of your motivation, so careful preparation is crucial. It’s important to understand how downsizing can impact your budget and lifestyle. This guide covers the benefits of downsizing to a smaller home and offers tips for planning the move, decluttering, and maximizing your new space.

More Americans have been downsizing their living spaces in recent years. According to Realtor Magazine, people looking to downsize accounted for 28% of real estate transactions in 2020. Although most of those transactions involved buyers aged 55 or older, baby boomers and the Silent Generation are not the only demographics interested in smaller homes. Many young couples are competing for homes with 1,400 or fewer square feet.

At first blush, downsizing might sound like a bad thing. Because of how downsizing often plays out in the business world, many people associate the term with a sense of loss or limitation. Despite these negative connotations, the pros of downsizing can easily outweigh the cons—especially for savvy homeowners. Below are a few benefits you can expect from downsizing your home.

How To Plan for a Downsize

Planning for a downsize can take extra time and energy. However, the effort will pay off on moving day and in the following weeks as you settle into your new home.

Prepare Your New Budget

Start with a thorough review of how downsizing will impact your budget. If you do not already have a written budget, take an hour or so to create one that reflects your current reality. Include monthly expenses, such as your utility bills, and annual expenses, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.

Next, create a second budget to explore what your finances will look like after you move. Some costs, such as your internet or cellphone bills, might stay the same, but many will change. If you are moving into a rental, note your monthly rent payment and renters insurance. If you are buying a home, including your new mortgage payment, homeowners insurance premiums, property taxes, and homeowner association (HOA) fees, if applicable.

Account for All Moving Costs

In addition to creating a monthly or annual budget, you should create a comprehensive moving budget that includes all of your one-time moving costs. The most obvious are packing supplies, equipment rentals, and moving services. To estimate these, you must first decide how you will move. Will you hire a full-service moving company or go the DIY route? Will you handle all of the packing and unpacking or pay professional movers to help? Will you invest in moving insurance?

Remember that moving can involve several hidden costs. You might need to set aside money to complete repairs on your current house before selling it. You may also need to budget for new furniture, paint, and an initial grocery trip to stock your new pantry. If you are planning a cross-country move, you will likely have to save money for airfare or a hotel stay. Factoring these costs into your budget will keep you from overspending.

Make a To-Do List

Once you have your budget sorted, make your to-do list. Experts recommend compiling a moving binder to keep track of everything related to your move, from quotes and receipts to contracts and booking details. If you aren’t sure where to start, read our foolproof moving guide that walks you through each step of the moving process. Having a list can help you stay organized and on-time during what might otherwise be a chaotic few weeks.

Be thorough in your research. Ask friends and family for recommendations, browse online reviews for local and long-distance moving companies, and request quotes from multiple providers. As you narrow down your options, make sure you have a backup plan. Decide what you will do if your first-choice moving company falls through or your belongings are delayed in transit.

Keep in mind that your list of to-dos won’t end on moving day. It’s best to have a plan for post-move tasks as well, such as unpacking and updating your driver’s license.

Toward the top of your to-do list should be decluttering your current home. Depending on the size of your home and how long you’ve lived there, this task can be daunting—but it can also be liberating. Here’s what to do.

How To Maximize Your Smaller Space

Thoughtful design and clever organization can make your new home feel more comfortable.

The goal is to create a home that feels cozy but not cramped; spacious but not sterile.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for maximizing your smaller space.

Use Space-Saving Furniture

As you shop for new furniture, look for space-saving or dual-purpose pieces that are appropriately sized for your space. Oversized or heavy furniture, for instance, will make small rooms feel even smaller. Rugs, drapes, and busy patterns can have the same effect.

Avoid overcrowding rooms. Leave a little bit of space between walls and furniture. Long, clean lines and light colors can help a room feel larger. You can also save space by choosing fold-away furniture or pieces with hidden storage, such as a bed with built-in drawers or an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table.

Consider Renting a Storage Unit

If you have items you do not use year-round but wish to keep, consider renting a storage unit. Many moving companies offer both short- and long-term storage, including climate-controlled units that can safely store keepsakes and seasonal decorations.

The money you save from downsizing can help cover the cost of a storage unit, which you can use as supplemental or temporary storage. It doesn’t have to be a permanent solution. Instead, use the storage unit for “maybe” items and commit to clearing it out by a certain date. For instance, you can give yourself six to 12 months and decide that anything you haven’t used by then can go.

Incorporate a Multipurpose Room

In a large home, each room can have its own purpose—a separate bedroom for each person plus a guest room, dedicated home office, dining room, and playroom. To make a smaller home functional, you might need some rooms to serve multiple purposes. Children might need to share a room, or a child’s bedroom may need to double as their playroom. If you work from home, your desk may need to be in the dining room or your bedroom.

Take inventory of your old home, listing each room and its purpose. Compare that list to your new home and look for ways to combine spaces. Multipurpose rooms make it possible to downsize without sacrificing your productivity or recreation.

Design Your Space To Look Bigger

Being intentional with your interior design can make your home look and feel bigger. Although furniture choice is important, it’s not the only thing to consider.

For small spaces, focus on high-contrast colors and natural lighting. Bright white can make a small room seem more spacious, while dark or bold colors can provide an illusion of depth—especially in a room with no windows. What you don’t want are the in-between colors. Medium shades will make your space feel smaller.

Let in as much natural light as possible with breezy, sheer curtains or blinds. Draw the eye upward with visually interesting light fixtures and emphasize vertical or horizontal lines with shiplap or paneling. In a room with small windows, use a mirror to reflect whatever light does make its way inside. White fixtures can also help reflect light.

When choosing the decor, remember that less is more. The room will look bigger with a few high-quality pieces than with lots of little clutter. For instance, you might choose one large painting rather than designing a gallery wall.

Our Conclusion

Downsizing can be scary for some people, especially those accustomed to living in large homes. However, it can also be a financially prudent and liberating decision. Many homeowners find that they gain far more than they give up by downsizing.

Moving into a smaller home requires organization and forethought, but it’s worth it to do the work ahead of time. With careful planning and thoughtful design choices, you can declutter and move into a smaller space without sacrificing the things you love most.

Source: ~ By: Shane Sentelle ~ Image: Canva Pro

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