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Downsizing living space
Old 02-03-2010, 02:02 PM   #1
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Downsizing living space

4 years ago when we returned to the US we came with 4 suitcases, 1 bike and 6 boxes of miscellaneous "stuff". Fast forward and here we are with a 3 bedroom/2ba double garage home that seems to have miraculously filled itself. Things I have learnt about myself is I like having a larger house when someone else cleans it, and I like having a yard when someone else maintains it.

Unexpectedly our landlord has decided that he wants to sell the house we live in - good luck with that one buddy - he bought at the peak and is looking for someone to make him whole on the transaction. Not sure that in this market many people will want to pay $1.5 million for a knockdown. I am looking at this as an opportunity to rightsize our household. I'm tired of having a spare bedroom in case someone comes to visit - there have been 3 visitors in 12 months. I am tired of having an extra room to accommodate our paperwork. I see this is a good excuse to push forward to online copies and getting rid of all the hard copies. I'm accumulating a nice little pile of goodies to list on Craigslist to raise a few $s. I know I am the only sucker in this household who will be required to pack and unpack the crap so the less I have to move the better.

I am hoping to downsize to a 2 bed/2ba. However, this morning I have been entertaining ideas of a 1 bedroom place. Has anyone managed to successfully downsize from a house to an apartment and were you happy with your decision? By moving from a house to an apt. I would expect that we are going to cut our costs by 25% at least. I can't believe how expensive a house is to heat, my electricity bill has been running at $250 a month recently.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:14 PM   #2
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There's a cottage down the street that is essentially one big room, a kitchen and a bathroom. I drool over how easy it would be to heat and clean. Probably 1 cord of wood per year, and 30 minutes per cleaning.

Right now I'm in the middle of cleaning -- procrastinating.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:24 PM   #3
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I've lived in a one bedroom apt and it wasn't too bad since DH and I were both working, came home and crashed. If I had to live in a one bedroom apt with both of us home now, I'd go nuts. We have to have our space.

Our house is 1800 sq ft with a two car garage. At this point in our lives we would be ok with a house/apt a bit smaller than that...but not much.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:26 PM   #4
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We had a 4/2.5, 2250 square foot house in Houston and a 2/1, 1150 sf house now.

I think we've come to the conclusion that we'd like a "happy medium", either 3/2 or 3/1.5 and around 1500-1700 sf.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:41 PM   #5
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I moved here 13 years ago with all my possessions packed in a single suitcase. Now we live in a pretty packed 2,500 sq ft house. Even if I make a point to discard one thing for every new thing coming into the house, I too would like to downsize. I am getting tired of the cleaning and maintenance involved with such a large house and it feels like we have so much wasted space! I dream of a luxury 1 or 2-bedroom condo with a top notch kitchen/bathroom, but DW doesn't want to hear about it (of course I am the only one cleaning around the house so as far as she is concerned, this house is "maintenance-free"). I used to live happily in a 155 sq. ft condo and I miss having a space where everything has its place and function.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:48 PM   #6
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....However, this morning I have been entertaining ideas of a 1 bedroom place. Has anyone managed to successfully downsize from a house to an apartment and were you happy with your decision? ....
DH and I started out in a 400 sf apartment. Today a 1-bedroom apt for the two of us to share would seem quite spacious compared to the jail cell that would soon be the accommodations for the one of us left alive after killing the other after we tried to share a 1-bedroom apt.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:50 PM   #7
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.....yep.
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Old 02-03-2010, 03:23 PM   #8
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After my divorce, I lived in smaller 1300 square foot rental houses and went from them to an even smaller 1150 square foot apartment and didn't even use all of that. Then I bought my present house which is bigger. I had no trouble downsizing and the only reason my present house is bigger, is that I couldn't find a small house that was in decent shape at the time. I remember my realtor asking me if it was small enough since I had emphasized that I wanted a small house.

I really only USE about half of my 1598 square foot house, even now. The rest of it is essentially buffer to isolate me from outside noises either from the street or neighbors.

I have a guest bedroom that is almost never used, and any guests could easily sleep on a blow-up bed in the living room if I didn't have the guest bedroom. For a while I used the bed in there for my "lay flat to dry" blouses to dry on towels, but then I stopped buying that type of blouse so I don't use it at all. And up until a couple of years ago I would sleep in there once or twice a month, when my neighbor's Hound of the Baskervilles would get going with loud deep WOOF WOOFs in the middle of the night outside my Master Bedroom, but their dog died so I don't need it for that any more either.

I have a dining room with formal dining room furniture that I never, ever use.

I never use the yard for anything.

I could be perfectly happy in an 800 square foot apartment or condo forever, if my neighbors were as considerate as I (perhaps mistakenly) think I am. However, the chances of that being the case are approximately 1 in a trillion since my standards for that are unrealistically high. Square footage serves me well as a sound buffer, putting rooms between me and outside sound.
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Old 02-03-2010, 03:30 PM   #9
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I live in an approx 1700 sqft 3BR, 1 and 1/2 bathroom raised ranch with a double garage occupying half the downstairs living space.
I am constantly decluttering the rooms of unused things and tchatchkes accumulated over 26 years of living here. My housecleaner is happy to get most of it for her relatively new digs, or I just drop it off at the local church rummage sales.
I did old photographs today. Next up is w*rk clothes I will probably never wear again. Then bookshelves. Then...whatever else falls under my evil roving eye.
No plans to downsize or relocate until such time as I can talk dh2b into moving out of the snowbelt via a job transfer (not likely ).
Spring will be here soon....
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:37 PM   #10
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I love small, intimate spaces and cozy living. See the design books by an author named "Susanka". I could quite easily live in a one-bedroom apartment and get rid of most of the crap that weighs down my life. I believe you live in CA, no? Well, having some outdoor living space would greatly expand your square footage. I basically live in 3 rooms in my house...the kitchen, the den and my bedroom. The dining room table is piled with tax documents at the present moment. I use the dining room/living room for entertaining about 3 times a year. I have two extra bedrooms occupied for about two weeks of the year with various visitors. The rest of the year the extra bedrooms serve as giant walk-in closets for yours truly. I have about 2000 sq feet here in PA, 1500 sq ft in FL but the latter is on the beach (and occupied for most of the year by a cousin). Maybe one day I will retire, sell everything and move to a one-bedroom in some primo location. This is my pipe dream.
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:41 PM   #11
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I could be perfectly happy in an 800 square foot apartment or condo forever, if my neighbors were as considerate as I (perhaps mistakenly) think I am. However, the chances of that being the case are approximately 1 in a trillion since my standards for that are unrealistically high. Square footage serves me well as a sound buffer, putting rooms between me and outside sound.
Same here. Which is why my neighbors annoy me so. Having said that, my tolerance for noisy neighbors is exceedingly low, which is a shame because I have some now.

I'd be happy with 800 square feet if I lived alone and had my own bathroom, too. Since you and Frank don't share living quarters, I can see that working well for one person's own space.
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:01 PM   #12
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I am hoping to downsize to a 2 bed/2ba. However, this morning I have been entertaining ideas of a 1 bedroom place. Has anyone managed to successfully downsize from a house to an apartment and were you happy with your decision? By moving from a house to an apt. I would expect that we are going to cut our costs by 25% at least. I can't believe how expensive a house is to heat, my electricity bill has been running at $250 a month recently.

We have gone through similar. In 2003 we downsized from a 3,500' 5 bed/3ba house with pool to a 1400' 3 bed/2ba, integral double garage apartment. In 2008 we moved into a 1200' 2 bed/2ba apartment with and it worked really well. Last week we moved back into our 1400' apartment and we have decided to move into a 1200' 2 bed/2ba with integral double garage. Our son lives close by and we rarely have stay-over visitors these days and have found ourselves quite content in the smaller space. Of course it also depends how it is laid out - the 2 bed place we are moving to has a large master BR with good sized nook where DW will have her recliner with TV etc. There is also a special computer workstation set-up just off the hall for my use. The spare bedroom will have the other computer desk plus a futon for when visitors do come and stay

The garage holds car, 3 adult bikes, regulation table tennis table plus tools, fishing gear and assorted junk I still keep.
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:03 PM   #13
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Same here. Which is why my neighbors annoy me so. Having said that, my tolerance for noisy neighbors is exceedingly low, which is a shame because I have some now.
My heartfelt sympathies, since my tolerance for noisy neighbors is very low too. Nothing more annoying to me than neighbors who wash their cars with the boom boxes blaring, neighbors' kids bouncing basketballs off the front of my house, and so on. ("Get off my lawn!" ) However I realize this is a normal, accepted behavior (accepted by everyone but me) so having a sound buffer helps. I never use any of the rooms towards the front of my house.

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I'd be happy with 800 square feet if I lived alone and had my own bathroom, too. Since you and Frank don't share living quarters, I can see that working well for one person's own space.
Yes, it would work out nicely for me. Even though I live alone, it's nice to have a separate bedroom though not really necessary.
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:36 PM   #14
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There's a cottage down the street that is essentially one big room, a kitchen and a bathroom. I drool over how easy it would be to heat and clean. Probably 1 cord of wood per year, and 30 minutes per cleaning.

Right now I'm in the middle of cleaning -- procrastinating.
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:39 PM   #15
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We live in 1,000 sq ft now, 2 BD 1 BA, not much to downsize except when we went camping in the 1985 VW camper.

A long time ago I lived in a condo and really liked it.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:06 PM   #16
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I have a 1320 sq ft home, with an additional 720 sq ft finished in the basement. I have 2 bedrooms on the main floor and another one in the daylight (big windows) basement. Since my daughter is now living in the basement, having 2 bedrooms on the main floor suits me very nicely.

I purchased a new small flat screen TV and I'm having a new smallish recliner delivered tomorrow for the 2nd bedroom. My computer, printer and office area are also in that room. Some day I'm hoping to get a day bed too.

Some days I feel like I'm right sized and other days I think I have too much room. I don't like the hassle of yard maintenance, but at the same time, I enjoy having my flowers in the spring and summer. I love sitting on my deck and reading in good weather. I also have a dog that really likes my back yard.

What I think I would like at some point would be a townhouse or a patio home. No yard maintenance but you would still have a private outdoor area. I also think an unfinished basement would work for me too, since I never use it. It would only be needed for storage.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:21 PM   #17
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We're having fun figuring out how to fit furniture into an 1100 square foot 2 bedroom house! We don't own any furniture yet, but finding stuff that doesn't take that much space looks to be a little challenging.

I keep reminding my self that we don't own nearly as many clothes as we used to, and that maybe we can get away with just one chest of drawers, especially as we have a walk-in closet - modest as it is! Also, we will be leaving some of the clothing in the motorhome.

We would not have bought a house if lawn maintenance wasn't covered by the community fees. So some 55+ communities provide lawn maintenance even for stand-alone houses.

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Old 02-03-2010, 07:15 PM   #18
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DH and I have decided to move back into to our old home (which we rented out for the past 10 years) while we fix up our current place. Old home: about 1200 square feet. Current place: about 2700 square feet. We'll see how it goes. DH is very attached to the old home. I have a feeling we'll stay at the old place for quite a while. Here are pics:
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:34 PM   #19
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We moved from our 3/2/3 2000 sq ft house with TONS of storage in OH to a 1065 sq ft 2/2 apartment in FL. Since there are two of us, I would miss having a second bathroom. I grew up in a very small house (smaller than this apartment for 3 of us) so I feel very comfortable here. I could use a little more sunlight into the end of the apartment with the kitchen but I feel like we have enough room

We are in a 55+ community. It's quiet and our neighbors are great. The laundry is a couple hundred feet from our apartment although you can have a European washer/dryer unit installed for $25 per month. Not a bad deal given the landlord pays water and sewer. It's nice to have someone else responsible for all the maintenance (very responsive) and taxes and insurance (i.e. all the risk). Parking is not covered but it is plentiful and convenient. Electric will average about $100 per month. Rent, electric, upgraded cable (they pay for the first 90 channels), high speed internet and renter's insurance comes to a very reasonable $960 per month.

We also have a 10' x 10' storage unit we need to downsize. We over-estimated how much space we needed when we moved in. It holds our beach equipment, flat screen TV boxes, my husband's rolling tool chest and some leftover moving supplies (blankets and boxes). I hate paying that bill every month.

I attached a floor plan of our apartment.
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:42 PM   #20
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We're having fun figuring out how to fit furniture into an 1100 square foot 2 bedroom house! We don't own any furniture yet, but finding stuff that doesn't take that much space looks to be a little challenging.
We purchased a wooden rectangular counter-height dining table with 4 padded stools that store under the table when not in use. It also has four drawers, two on each side. Compact with storage....a home run!
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