For most people, their home is the largest, most significant purchase they will ever make. A home will often be purchased when the owners are relatively young, and owned by them for several decades. After all, your home is the place where you are likely expect to spend the majority of your life. This may be the place that you raise your children, if you choose to have any. It may stay in your possession until your children have children of their own. It is the centre of your life, for most of your life. At some point, however, you may find yourself wondering whether (and when) to downsize your Vancouver home.
There are as many reasons to downsize as there are homeowners. Perhaps your children are grown and on their own, leaving you with empty rooms and much more space than you require. Maybe the upkeep of your home has become difficult, due to either the physical duties that need to be performed, or to the financial requirements of repairs and maintenance. Alternatively, you may simply wish to live in a more convenient location closer to services, friends, and family.
Downsizing, however, may require nearly as much consideration as buying your home in the first place, with several factors determining whether it is the right choice in your situation. Before taking any action, it would therefore be wise to review your options to determine what is best for you.
Time to Downsize
One of the more common reasons for downsizing comes from significant changes in family life. If you have children, then you may find that once they have moved on to homes of their own, you no longer need so much space, especially if you have a large family.
While it may be nice to continue to have a spare bedroom available for the occasional visitor, or to convert a room into a home office, having two or more empty bedrooms becomes nothing more than wasted space.
Another popular reason for downsizing is due to reduced or lost income. This might be due to either you or your partner losing your job, or being scheduled for fewer hours than usual each week, resulting in significant financial motivation to find a new home that would be easier on your budget.
Both of these factors could come into play at the same time. For those with an “empty nest” who have not already moved on from the old family home, retirement might prove to be the perfect time to do so. The combination of a reduced budget with the reduced need for a larger home is often enough to push homeowners into finding a smaller residence.
Aging homeowners may find that the physical aspect of looking after their home has become too much for them. Cleaning a large home requires time and energy. There is vacuuming and dusting to be done on a regular basis, bathrooms to clean, lawns to mow in summer and driveways to shovel in winter. Windows need to be cleaned, and you may find that you need to paint every so often. Tasks that were once routine may become increasingly difficult, or simply less pleasant as physical capabilities decrease.
Downsizing might also benefit you in other ways. Moving into a smaller home will often leave you with funds to do things that you had previously been unable to do. Some retirees will take the money gained from the sale of their Vancouver house and use it to travel, for example. This might be especially attractive in a strong seller’s market.
Moving into a smaller, less expensive dwelling in a more convenient location is another reason to consider downsizing. Perhaps you have lived in the suburbs for many years and now desire to live in a condo downtown, or move to a location closer to other family members.
So, as you can see, there are many reasons to consider downsizing, but is it always the best choice?
When Not to Downsize
Although you may be tempted to downsize for one or more of the reasons listed above, there are times when it will not necessarily be in your best interest.
Take, for example, the desire to move to a more convenient location. You’ve lived for years in a quiet, even remote area, and now desire to be closer to amenities and services that will improve your quality of life, or merely simplify it.
There’s a good chance that the highly-desirable location that you are considering will actually end up being nearly as expensive as your current home. A small condo in an affluent area, close to all conveniences will likely cost you more than the large Vancouver home on a quiet street away from the city.
Depending on the state of the housing market, you may want to wait for a more opportune time to sell. When the market favours the buyer, you may not wish to part with your family home if you feel it is being under-valued.
Sentimentality certainly comes into play for some people, and while it may not be the most logical reason to keep a larger-than-necessary home, you may find it to be enough to give you pause. After all, your home contains more than simply things; it contains the memories and emotions of the many years that you spent living there. For some people, leaving a beloved home would be difficult or even depressing, and they may find that keeping their home is worth the effort and expense. And of course, there are those who wish to keep their home in order to pass it on to their child.
Is It the Best Choice for You?
Ask yourself why you are considering downsizing, and what you hope to gain from it. Is the market in your favour? Will it allow you to relocate to the new home that you desire? Are you emotionally prepared to leave your long-time home? If you can envision that the new home (and its location, surroundings, and community) is something that will make your life considerably better, with all else in your favour, then it may be the right decision to take the next step forward.
Choosing to downsize is something to consider carefully – at least as carefully as buying the home in the first place.
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