Downsizing Benefits

Are you in a quandary about downsizing?

Downsizing homes - big decision.

You've finally arrived at that time of life when friends and family have begun to suggest moving to a smaller home. Perhaps you regularly run across articles about downsizing for seniors. Are you approaching that stage in life, the so-called autumn years, when retirement downsizing has become a frequent dinner-table topic with your adult children? No matter the reasons, the change of lifestyle associated with moving to a smaller abode, whether for a single person or a couple, obviously involves a major life-changing decision.

Your kids have grown and flown the coop, and you don't need the hassle anymore of keeping all the unused rooms clean. Maybe a couple of the bedrooms formerly occupied by the kids have been re-purposed as a hobby and/or small TV room. But it doesn't make any sense to abandon your spacious basement recreation room or main floor family room in favour of a tiny upstairs den. It's such a long trek to the fridge! And who needs 3 bathrooms? Regularly living in only 3 rooms - bedroom, kitchen and family room - out of 6 or more rooms, plus a finished recreation room, no longer makes any sense.

After decades of lawn-mowing, feeding, weeding and fertilizing, along with maintaining all the flower gardens, not to mention snow-shoveling walks and driveways, and paying to heat and cool a nearly empty house, not to mention the huge and ever-rising property taxes, you're thinking maybe they're right. It's time for a change.

A smaller abode would certainly mean less maintenance. But more importantly, it would translate into a definite lifestyle change.

Moving from a big house to a condominium apartment or townhouse will mean sacrificing a lot. But much of that sacrifice will be pretty much all the work and expense associated with living in a big house. No more stairs, snow-shoveling, hauling garbage to the curb and bringing in the cans later. You'd be finished with leaf-raking, cleaning out the eaves troughs, maintaining the furnace and maybe a pool, to name only a few of the responsibilities of house ownership.

Moving down is about committing to a lifestyle change as much as it is about deciding where to place all your stuff. Instead of mulling over all the potential negative aspects, what you're leaving behind, think about the big positive; a smaller living space takes less maintenance, which in turn means more time for fun and games and travel.

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And another huge benefit of downsizing?


You get to rid yourself of a lot of the stuff you've accumulated over the decades, stuff you don't need anymore. Your lifestyle will be simpler. Think minimalism.

Condo life has many advantages. Aside from the smaller space, you'll be able to do things impulsively; just lock the door and go. No need to worry about security or newspapers, junk-mail and regular mail piling up.

Another consideration is your home equity. Chances are, depending on where you wish to live, your new or resale condo will likely have a considerably lower price tag than the market value of your big suburban house. Thus, when the dust settles,  you'll probably have a nice chunk of cash left over from your sale, even after closing costs have been deducted, to invest elsewhere, thereby increasing your retirement income. Yea - more money for fun and traveling. Or maybe even upgrading the interior of your new condo apartment with granite counter-tops and engineered wood floors.

Health and Fitness

Another advantage to downsizing to a condo, particularly an upscale building, is that you'll likely not have the periodic expense of a health club membership. The condo may feature handy amenities such as fitness rooms, tennis courts, swimming pool, sauna and other assorted recreational facilities. Your condo may also feature a common element party-room and kitchen where your entire family can still hold those traditional annual reunions.

And here's another perk for the more socially inclined. Condos offer more opportunities to meet neighbours in the common areas. And don't forget the chance to meet (and argue!) with them at your association's monthly board meetings. On the other hand, condo living is also good for the recluse; neighbours will quickly sense and usually respect your preference for privacy.

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Many condos, particularly the newer buildings, are equipped with security doors, intercom and security systems, sometimes with 24-hour concierge service. Security conscious people, especially those who plan to travel a lot or spend their summers at the cottage or on their yacht, or their winters in a tropical clime, can rest assured that their homes will be watched and maintained in their absence.

Prime Locations

And here's another benefit to moving to a condo. Not many people can afford to buy a waterfront property. But many condos are built on private waterfront land or adjacent public lakefront parkland. Think of the views and glorious walking and biking paths. Prime locations, such as a city center or theatre district, might also be an option. Leave your car in the underground parking lot and hop onto pubic transit to take in local attractions such as live theatre, music and abundant restaurants. Check out this page for more about city living.

As I said, condos are typically more affordable than houses, making them an excellent choice for people who want lower housing costs. Thus, in addition to first time home buyers with limited budgets, condos are the economical choice for retirees and babyboomers downsizing.

Are you deterred by the monthly fees? Consider this; you'll no longer have to invest tens of thousands of dollars into home maintenance, repairs and renovations. For example, if the annual condo fee amounts to, say, $10,000, think about what it costs to periodically replace the roof, furnace, air conditioner, windows, driveways, kitchen and bathroom cabinets and flooring. Suddenly, that $10k won't seem such a burden anymore.

Smaller House or Upscale Condo?

There is life after downsizing - and it can be really great!

To learn more about buying a condo, click here. And to search active listings in your area, click here for Canada and here for the United States.

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