Contemplating retirement is also the time to start contemplate downsizing your home. You might be tired of all the work a big house requires, especially if you plan to do some traveling. Mowing grass, raking leaves, shoveling snow and chasing dust bunnies through 5 bedrooms can become overwhelming at times. The only problem is downsizing can be equally as stressful. It can also be expensive and upsetting.
Here are some things to consider before taking that leap.
Your existing home
Selling your home in the current depressed real estate market can be a daunting task. The better option might be to try to rent it until the market improves. Of course, the danger is being caught paying for two homes at once if your tenant breaks the lease and you are unable to find a new tenant.
The cost of moving
It's easy to forget about the actual cost of moving. Unless you have a lot of friends and family to help you schlep boxes and furniture, you'll need to hire someone to do the heavy lifting for you. The cost will depend on how much you have to move and how far as well as if you want to pack it or have the moving company pack it. If you have the time, you can save money by packing it yourself and simply hiring a company to move everything to the new location. This can range anywhere from $500 - $2,000 depending on the quantity of items and how far it needs to move. If you don't have the time, you can have a company pack, move and unpack your things. This can range anywhere from $2,000 - $4,500 and can sometimes be upwards of $10,000 - all depending on quantity and distance.
Your new home
Settling in to your new home can sometimes cost more than you might think. With smaller closets or a different layout, you may have to invest in shelving units and wardrobes or space saving furniture. Making the space work for you can be fun, but costly as well. It's a good idea to budget for any improvements that might need to be made to make your new home comfortable.
Getting rid of things can often be the hardest part of downsizing. It's easy to become attached to items you've collected over the years and saying goodbye to them can be sad or disappointing. Choosing between the items you want to keep and the things that are expendable such as items associated with significant events in your life (graduations, weddings, grandchildren etc.) can be painful, but sometimes very necessary. You might find there are certain items you just can't part with, but don't have room for either. Storing some of your collectibles is always an option, but you also might be surprised to find that some of your family members might be happy to store them for you.
Donate, Donate, Donate!
Whatever you decide to do with the items you can no longer store, keep charitable organizations in mind. There are always organizations willing to take just about anything. From furniture that can be restored to clothes that are considered vintage to pots and pans for those that can't afford new ones, there is always someone that would love to have your gently used items.
At first downsizing and getting rid of items you once loved might be hard but after you experience your smaller scale and easier to maintain lifestyle, you may feel a sense of freedom you haven't felt in years!
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