Just look around your home or any other. Americans love stuff, and we consume more than people in any other country. We live in larger homes than any other country. We like having our things — they bring us comfort and happy memories.
For my husband and I, downsizing was part of a journey that started years ago.
In 10 years’ time, I lost both parents, my last grandparent, my father-in-law and a grandmother-in-law. Also during this time, I helped three family members with a major downsize move. Two of those involved large homes with 40-plus years of accumulation.
I also dealt with my mother’s large estate. As the self-appointed “family historian,” I drug home many large art and furniture pieces I had no room for, and hundreds of small treasures that held special meaning to me or my husband. Some were things “too special” to just give away, yet we really did not want (like my grandmother’s silver tea-and-coffee service).
My husband, daughter and I lived happily and comfortably in a 3,100-square-foot home with a 200-square-foot storage attic. The closets were organized but full. So were the huge laundry room and the garage.
Our house was always full of teenagers, and we were happy they had a spacious, comfy spot to hang out. Then, our daughter grew up and went to college. It was now just my husband and I in this big house. We lived on only one of the three floors, but were cleaning and maintaining all of it inside and out.
We had always thought we might downsize at some point, maybe to a one-level home with 2,200 to 2,500 square feet. One day while paying bills, I did a tally of what we were spending monthly on our mortgage, taxes, insurance, housekeeper, yard person, water, gas and powers bills. The number was big.
If we had a smaller house, I thought of all the other things we could do — travel, invest, give. And when I looked at the number times 12, it was an eye-opener. Some people with a good-equity position in their home may even be able to have no mortgage. Can you imagine? It’s un-American!
We had started going through closets and spaces after experiencing several family downsizes, not always happily and not because there was not enough room. We just didn’t need all that stuff. When the realization came that we could be spending our time and energy differently in smaller house, we picked up steam.
Our process happened really quickly. We decided to sell our home and set a listing date about six weeks out. At the same time, we began planning a new home on land we already owned. We listed our home and sold it in four days!
New adventures, travel, more spare time, less maintenance, better cash flow — all of these and more are great reasons to consider downsizing. Stay tuned to the next three articles in this series to discover the process we used to downsize and to learn if it is right for you.