Despite the fact that American families have been getting smaller in recent years, homes have continued to grow ever larger. Over the past four decades alone, the average American home has expanded by 1,000 square feet.
That’s the equivalent of two to three additional rooms. Remember, it’s not as if families have gotten any larger or could cite any real need for that extra space.
Though some families likely enjoy the extra room and are probably looking for ways to build or buy a bigger home, others have become exhausted by the whole “McMansion” trend. In these cases, downsizing is a desirable and practical answer.
The What and Why of Downsizing
Downsizing will look different for every family. But regardless of the particular circumstances of the situation, downsizing consists of the intentional act of buying a home that is smaller than the one you currently live in.
This tends to coincide with purging many of your longtime possessions and keeping only the ones you truly require (or that bring joy to you and your family). People downsize for any number of reasons, but it typically starts as a lifestyle choice.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Maria Saxton, a leading researcher in the tiny-house movement, downsizing the house is often the catalyst for downsizing in other areas of life as well. “Downsizing almost created a domino effect for the people in my study,” Dr. Saxton mentions.
“Things like their diet, their transportation, especially the purchasing habits and recycling habits, there’s a myriad of things that downsizing influences in other parts of your lifestyle.”
As should be evident, the move is not just about eliminating square footage and possessions; it involves simplifying your life, minimizing stress, and being more intentional about the things you do and own. In addition, there are financial and environmental benefits to downsizing.
Financially, smaller living spaces are generally less costly to purchase and maintain. This will increase your cash flow and leave a greater margin in your budget for living the life you crave.
Environmentally, downsizing results in lower energy consumption and a smaller carbon footprint on your part. This also has an added benefit of lowering your monthly utility bills (another financial perk).
How to Easily and Effortlessly Downsize Your House
Downsizing sounds great in theory, but it’s not as easy as some people assume. It requires serious effort and sacrifice, and (in a sense) pain. But if you want to get to the “promised land” of a simpler life, you have to undergo the actual downsizing process one step at a time.
Below are five tips to make the process less stressful and more efficient.
1. Get Clear on Your Goals
We may have different definitions of downsizing. For some people, it’s moving from a 6,500-square-foot estate on five acres of land to a 3,000-square-foot home in the suburbs.
For others, it’s shifting from 3,000 square feet to a 500-square-foot studio loft. The question is, what do you want to get out of it?
Start the process by setting goals and identifying clear steps that must be taken in order to get from where you are today to where you hope to end up. This helps to design a mission to follow.
2. Sort Through Everything
The toughest hurdle in the downsizing process is typically purging possessions. You have an emotional connection to your belongings, and it can be challenging to dump them.
In order for downsizing to work, however, you have to condense what you own. To expel possessions with intention, we recommend that you go through one room at a time and take inventory of every single item in the space.
This means picking up each object and consigning it to one of three piles: (1) Keep, (2) Sell/Give Away, or (3) Trash/Recycle. Don’t allow any maybes. You either keep something or you get rid of it (via donation, sale, disposal, or recycle).
3. Find the Right Home
It’s not as simple as saying, I want a 2,000-square-foot home. Square footage is just one facet of downsizing. It’s far more appropriate to find the right floor plan and layout.
Perhaps a 1,500-square foot house with a layout that’s suited to your family’s needs might feel more comfortable than a 2,000-square-foot house that includes some dead space you can’t use. Think carefully about your needs and look for properties that align with them.
4. Rent a Storage Unit
Moving is one of the few times you’re forced to come face to face with every article you own. Though we hope you’ve done a good job of purging the items you obviously don’t need, the actual move can offer great opportunities to weed out even more objects.
One great idea is to rent a storage unit and have your movers take everything there. Then, only remove the items you know you’ll need in the first week. After the first week passes, you may visit the storage unit to pick up other items on a needed-in-the-moment basis.
That’s the key: You should only retrieve items as you need them. In other words, you can’t say: “I’ll probably use this within a month, so I’ll go ahead and bring it back to the new place.”
After three to six months, you’ll find it much easier to get rid of everything that’s left in the storage unit. In fact, you should resolve to do so.
5. Give Yourself Time
You don’t have to declutter, sell your home, and buy a new one all in 30 days. Downsizing can be an arduous process, so try to give yourself time.
Whether it’s three months, six months, or even a year, move at a pace that’s comfortable for you. But make certain you have a plan.
This goes back to setting clear goals on the front end. Without specific and measurable goals, your efforts to downsize could easily be thwarted as soon as you encounter any friction.
Give yourself time, but take consistent action. Whether it’s getting rid of unwanted items, preparing your current home for listing, or searching for your next home, attempt to take active steps every single day.
Let Green Residential Help
At Green Residential, we understand the Houston real estate market better than any other company in the area. We’ve been in the local market for decades and possess a detailed understanding of the intricacies of this market – including buyer and seller trends.
Whether you’re looking to buy a Houston home, sell one, or manage an investment property, we can help. Contact us today to learn more!