(There is so much to consider when thinking about downsizing that this is the first article in a two-part series.)
You’ve been living in your home for 25 years….maybe longer. You have two or three bedrooms that no one sleeps in. You have a basement full of old yearbooks, camping equipment you haven’t used since the 70s, old hockey trophies, furniture from your in-laws house, and toys for your future grandchildren. You haven’t parked in your garage in a very long time. You know your bathroom needs updating but it’s the last thing that you want to tackle. Your 2018 tax bill has arrived and your first reactions is YIKES! If this sounds like you, you might also be questioning if it is time to start thinking about downsizing from your home.
I am routinely approached by friends, neighbours and clients about helping them develop a downsizing plan. Where to go? How much space do I need? “Do we buy first or sell first?” What to bring?
Most Westboro-ites like living in Westboro which makes downsizing tough because we don’t have an abundance of smaller homes to move to. I often hear, “if I’m going to downsize, I’d like to move to one level”, which makes downsizing even tougher given that our neighbourhood has a shortage of bungalows.
So…..where to begin? The first step is to take some time to get to know the market. And remember, you’ve got lots of time. You don’t have to move. Know that if you are living in Westboro that you are currently living in a very valuable, sought-after property. You have control of the process. Start to become familiar with the real estate market both within the neighbourhood and in other areas of the city. Some people want to downsize their space. Others want to downsize the amount of equity that is tied up in a property so they have additional finances for their retirement, traveling, or purchasing a vacation property. There are many neighbourhoods that are still within the Greenbelt that have great housing options at a lower price. Take some time to drive through different neighbourhoods. If you have time, visit open houses so you have a better understanding of the price vs. value proposition. This will also help you begin to understand different layouts, updates that are popular to buyers, and how a listed property is presented and marketed.
The next thing to consider is how much space you truly need. Take stock of the space in your current home that you use on a day-to-day basis. Most people spend a majority of their waking hours in three rooms – the kitchen, an eating area (either in the kitchen or dining room) and a living room/family room space. If this is the case for you, moving to a condo could make good sense. Some other questions to consider include: Do you have a home office or do you do most of your work on a laptop at the kitchen island or dining room table? Do you routinely use your basement or is it primarily used for storing items that you don’t use on a regular basis? Do you have a cottage? Do you plan to spend your summers at the lake? Are you planning to spend time travelling or hope to spend part of the winter in a warmer climate? Many downsizers can live with a lot less space when they plan to spend most of the summer at a cottage and spend the winter months traveling. Do you love to garden and do exterior maintenance? Would you be satisfied with a container garden on the balcony of a condo? A good exercise for potential downsizers is to keep track of space utilization in their current home as this will give a good sense of the actual space you need.
So if you’re thinking of downsizing, you’ve got your first “homework” assignment. There is lots to consider indeed. Stay tuned for my next article which will provide additional advice on the downsizing process or contact me directly and we can meet for a coffee to discuss the process in more detail.