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Helpful Downsizing House Tips


When you're looking at downsizing your house, there's a lot to consider — especially if you're changing your location and lifestyle. Downsizing from a large home to a smaller one can be a relief, even if your new house is just a bit smaller. Many people decide to downsize when they're close to retirement. Read on to discover the best tips to make this big change a success.

Benefits of Downsizing House

There are so many advantages of downsizing. Living smaller can mean:

  • Less maintenance
  • Lower insurance costs
  • Lower utility bills
  • Lower mortgage payments
  • Simpler living
  • Better social life

Downsizing also lets you create the way you want to live now. That can be quite different from when you were raising kids or working full time. Take advantage of downsizing to:

  • Create a new space to fit your needs
  • Get organized and enjoy uncluttered living
  • Live simpler and have more time for yourself
  • Get rid of stuff and make relocation easier

How to Start Downsizing

If you've lived in a home for over five years, you know how much can accumulate. But what about those homeowners who have lived in their house for decades — even their entire adult life? Now that can be quite a project, and the more help, the better. If you have family nearby, get their assistance. Then you can distribute what you won't be taking with you. If not, there are companies that specialize in helping people downsize. This can be a big project and it will be easier to tackle with more sets of hands.

Downsizing can mean you only take what you love. Depending on your timeline, it's never too early to start going through your home and sorting. We suggest these four piles:

  • Keep
  • Give away
  • Donate
  • Toss

Once you get closer to moving, then you'll need to be more strategic. Know where you're going and have the measurements of each room. There are several free programs online where you can draw a floorplan and lay your furniture out. That way, you won't be taking items that are too big for the space.

When it comes to the move, the more planning, and organization, the better. You don't want to end up with too much stuff. And on the other hand, you don't want to get rid of things you wished you'd kept. Besides measuring the rooms, check out the cabinet and storage space — especially in the kitchen. You may not be able to take four sets of china with you. In that case, decide what to keep and what to give to friends and family or possibly sell.

Downsizing From House to Condo

Many people deciding to retire are choosing to go from a house to a low-maintenance condo. Living in a condominium gives you more freedom to travel and leave your home without worrying about taking care of the yard. All you have to do is lock the door and leave.

As you're decluttering and sorting, box up and label anything you won't be using. That will make the process so much faster when the actual move comes. Consider renting a storage space to pack items away as you go. Keep the things you may need closer to the front of the unit.

With condo living, you won't have all that outside maintenance. So, paring down your garage should be at the top of your list. You won't need mowers or hedgers. But you will need a basic set of tools.

Living in a condominium community can give you access to more amenities and also a way to make new friends. Amenities can include a gym, café, pool, putting greens, and private parking. If you'd like to live in a larger city, consider mixed-use condos that include shopping and dining.

Downsizing From House to Townhouse

What about downsizing from a house to a townhouse? In that case — as with a condo — you might not be giving up square footage. Instead, you may even be gaining some. Townhomes come in all sizes and price points, from less expensive to luxury. Depending on your townhome, you may or may not be responsible for the outdoor maintenance.

The good thing about townhomes over condos is the private garages. Most new townhomes have large two-car garages that would be plenty big for a small workshop. In that case, you won't have to get rid of so much from your garage.

Make sure to review any homeowner association (HOA) rules and dues before making a commitment.

House Swap Downsize

More and more families are doing the house swap downsize. What is it? It's when the older parents have a larger home than the grown children. Rather than each selling their homes — they swap houses. The nice thing about this arrangement is it keeps the familial home in the family.

Keeping the furniture with the house is a great idea if you have heirlooms. You can still sell each other the properties and exchange money if needed. You'll most likely need the advice of an attorney and title company.

When should you downsize your house?

Retirement or pre-retirement is an excellent time to think about downsizing, especially if the maintenance of your current home is getting to be too much. Additionally, if you have substantial equity and can purchase a new smaller home with cash or have a large down payment, that could cut your housing costs quite a bit.

When your kids have moved out, and you just have too much house, that's another good time to consider a change. And you may be able to get something smaller and nicer than what you already have. If your home is dated, you'll enjoy looking at properties with open floor plans, modern kitchens built for entertaining, large master suites, and luxury bathrooms.

It's always good to check out all of your alternatives before you decide to downsize. You may be in for sticker shock if you haven't purchased a home for years. Plus, it depends on what you can get for your home. Talk to a trusted real estate agent to see what your options are. After your research, you may decide to stay where you are and age in place. If that's the case, consider what renovations may fit your needs.

Downsizing your home is a big project, and it's best to do it in stages. From home shopping to decluttering and packing — get ready for some fun and sore muscles! We hope you've enjoyed these tips and good luck in your new endeavors.

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After your application, we’ll help you:

1. Discover you’re eligible to become a PenFed member

2. Open a Savings/Share Account and deposit at least $5