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Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 12:17 PM   #1
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Downsizing

(apologies if posting in wrong forum)

We've decided we're sick of taking care of this big four bedroom house and doing yard work. We have no children so half it goes unused anyway.

The plan? Townhome!

We've enjoyed a nice runup in home value, so are now sitting on this 350k home with a 145k mortgage. We've seem townhomes that we like in the 175k range, so we're thinking sell big and buy smaller with cash from the profit.

We have no car payments, have finished the student loans, and carry no consumer debt at all... so woohoo completely debt free in our mid 30s. Our retirement savings are currently in the 160k range so obviously we're still not as close to an early retirement as we'd like to be, but our combined income is about 150k (most of which has been used to attack student loans until this year) and we like the flexibility of being able to really save a lot for retirement in the coming years or consider scaling back to working part time and enjoying life a little more while we're young.

Any obvious flaws in the plan?
Any comments on townhome living?

Thanks in advance for kind advisement.

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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 12:33 PM   #2
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Re: Downsizing

I think it is a great idea. We downsized a few years ago from a big house we didn't need into an apartment in a fourplex. We own the fourplex so we can control who our direct neighbors are. But there nevertheless is some courtesies you have to observe by living so close. No cranking up the music full volumn.

We really started saving money when we didn't have the big house to support.
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 01:15 PM   #3
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Re: Downsizing

If you really don't like doing *any* yard work, then it's a good idea. But you'll pay HOA fees that cover somebody else doing the yardwork and other maintenance for you. In retirement, I sort of like doing my own yard work. It provides both exercise and lower expenses. You might want to consider a smaller house with a tiny yard instead.
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 01:27 PM   #4
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Re: Downsizing

Thanks for kind replies.

Yeah it seems that the HOA fees are usually in the 100-150 range for townhomes around here, and that covers just the front so we'd probably still have a small back area to play gardnening on. Right now we pay 40/month anyway.
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 01:55 PM   #5
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Re: Downsizing

I t hink that you made the right decision. As I posted on another thread, people often buy far more house than they need, especially those who have kids. The latter type have probably dreamed of owning a house with a yard, a porch/deck to enjoy the sunset, and a backyard with a swing/playset for the kids. Unfortunately, that kind of home can be more trouble than it's worth, especially for a young couple. Think about it this way. If you own a 4-bedroom home, you need to furnish it, put in new carpets, paint the walls, refinish floors, update fixtures, etc...so that's many thousands of dollars right there. Then there's the property taxes, utilities and upkeep. In regards to upkeep, it's not just mowing the lawn and painting the house -- it's the broken water heater, plumbing clogs/leaks, foundation cracking, septic backups, electrical problems, etc...

Large houses can be money pits, and for a young couple -- even one that earns a combined income of $150k annually like WRBT -- the requisite expenses can be prohibitive.
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 05:49 PM   #6
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Re: Downsizing

Sold the big house 3300 sq. ft. on two wooded acres last year and bought a garden home in a condo community. No more mowing, snow shoveling, spreading mulch, weeding, cleaning gutters, repaving drive, picking up leaves, just to name a few. The additional time I now enjoy, I spend on the golf course or riding two wheels on the black top, reading playing music, walking with my wife, etc. The only regret I have is that I didn't do it five years earlier. I don't think you will regret it.
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 06:39 PM   #7
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Re: Downsizing

We downsized from a 3,500 sq ft house with pool etc about 2 years ago and love it. It was actually one of our kids that inspired us. (We have 2, the last of whom left home 4 years ago). Our married daughter had moved into an apartment after graduating and getting a job with IBM in Austin. After spending a few days with them. They will be buying a house themselves in due course, but we are in our late 40's and were ready to downsize. The apartment life looked great with very low maintenance fees, great facilities etc, so we decided to give it a go. So far we love it

We invested the proceeds of the house sale in Vanguard's Wellesly Admiral fund which has returned over 9% per year since we invested which is close to its 30+year historic norms.
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 07:06 PM   #8
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Re: Downsizing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
We love it! - I went from a 2,000 sq. ft. house to a 3600 sq. ft. Townhome. - No more Lawn mowing or snow shoveling or the tools to do so. I am the President of our Assoc. and the Landscape Co. is at my call!

Off for a anotehr week of fishing tomorrow! 8)
So, where you goin' and what are you fishing for??

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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 08:11 PM   #9
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Re: Downsizing

I live in a 3300 sq. ft. older home that needs a little updating on the lower level. I have lived here 5 years and plan on at least another 3 years. Since I've lived here I have had to replace the roof, next is the furnace and air. This is why I don't like bigger homes. The maintenance is always more.

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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 08:19 PM   #10
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Re: Downsizing

I downsized last year, but not to the extent as many of you.

My last house was only about 2000 sq feet but it was a 2 story with a built in pool.

My curent house was built in 2004 and is a 1670 sq feet one story house. I don't miss the pool or the upstairs, and this house is better insulated so stays at a more constant temperature.

Another thing I did with this house was to NOT put in a back lawn. I have front yard maintenance which takes care of mowing the front. While my back yard is not larger, it does open to a greenbelt with a small creek by having a wrought iron back fence. So I have visitors which I enjoy, lots of birds and bunnies.

I also have 24 hours security also, which I will really probably appreciate when my boys move out.
This is my first new house, and I really love having the minimal maintenance that comes with a new house.

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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-16-2005, 11:32 PM   #11
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Re: Downsizing

You need to seriously look at the construction of the town home, or even a new home . There are a lot of short cuts being taken with new construction and some are having a problem with dry rot because contractors are using a siding underlayment that doesn't breathe - and their flashing is shoddy.
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-17-2005, 06:52 AM   #12
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Re: Downsizing

Yes, always get a home inspected before you buy. And don't use the realtor's favorite inspector.
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-17-2005, 07:45 AM   #13
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Re: Downsizing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
Yes, always get a home inspected before you buy.* And don't use the realtor's favorite inspector.*
Good advice. I didn't always do it, but it could save a lot of grief.
BTW, it's a good contingency for a buyer as it is broad enough to
allow you to wiggle out of a deal (or get a better price if anything pops
up - which nearly always happens).

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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-17-2005, 08:07 AM   #14
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Re: Downsizing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
We love it! - I went from a 2,000 sq. ft. house to a 3600 sq. ft. Townhome. - No more Lawn mowing or snow shoveling or the tools to do so. I am the President of our Assoc. and the Landscape Co. is at my call!

Off for a another week of fishing tomorrow! 8)
Good luck C-T! I may have had an epiphany. My beater riding mower died
and I sold it for parts. What to do now? Temporarily hired the guy who
mows for the "weekenders". Anyway, I always said that mowing was the
single household chore I didn't mind doing. However, now that I don't do it there
is more room in the garage, I have one less thing on my to-do list, and
one less possession requiring maintenance. Maybe I won't miss it

JG
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-17-2005, 08:58 AM   #15
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Re: Downsizing

Don't just accept "meets code".* Before you go shopping spend an hour with an architect who is a member of the Construction Specification Institute.* Ask that person what problems are surfacing in their area and what you should look for to avoid purchasing a problem.* Make sure that those issues are in your list when you have the home inspected.* Warning, the inspectors you engage usually don't warranty their work.* Make sure that the person has only your interests at heart.

BTW, I am with you when it comes to down sizing.* We are taking a long look at our "stuff" and culling.* Our yard is small and our home in great shape in a magnificent setting, but it would be nice to be able to travel without thinking about maintaining a large home.*
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-17-2005, 01:08 PM   #16
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Re: Downsizing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat
BTW, I am with you when it comes to down sizing.* We are taking a long look at our "stuff" and culling.* Our yard is small and our home in great shape in a magnificent setting, but it would be nice to be able to travel without thinking about maintaining a large home.*
Brat, next year might be a good time to sell.* *I assume you heard about the Money magazine article and what it's likely to do to both housing prices and building permits in our area.

http://money.cnn.com/best/bplive/

Personally, I cannot stand living in high-density housing.* *I need some space between me and my neighbors.* *And my kid and two dogs need a place to run around in circles.* *And my R/C helicopter needs room to hover and land.*
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-17-2005, 03:10 PM   #17
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Re: Downsizing

Thanks again for kind advice and replies.

The latest from the Phoenix area feeding frenzy: a house down the street that's definitely is of lower value (no lake view, smaller house, smaller lot) just went for 396k. That's sick. I've read that everything went up over 40% here in the last year but sheesh. I have the "this is as high as they'll go" feeling and want to bail and reduce the percentage of my net worth that involves a single house. Hell we could easily get a 220k townhome now and still be debt free when the dust settles.

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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-17-2005, 05:05 PM   #18
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Re: Downsizing

Quote:
Originally Posted by WRBT
Thanks again for kind advice and replies.

The latest from the Phoenix area feeding frenzy: a house down the street that's definitely is of lower value (no lake view, smaller house, smaller lot) just went for 396k. That's sick. I've read that everything went up over 40% here in the last year but sheesh. I have the "this is as high as they'll go" feeling and want to bail and reduce the percentage of my net worth that involves a single house. Hell we could easily get a 220k townhome now and still be debt free when the dust settles.

Then do it!

JG
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-18-2005, 06:54 AM   #19
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Re: Downsizing

If you have the chance to downsize now, probably perfect timing and right for all the reasons you've outlined.

Still, you said you are a couple in mid-30s. Are you sure you either can't have or don't want to have kids? Would be unfortunate to move into a cozy townhouse just as the first little one decides its time to make you a Mom and Dad.
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Re: Downsizing
Old 07-18-2005, 09:40 AM   #20
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Re: Downsizing

Downsizing....Hmmmmmmm. That would be a huge undertaking at this point but one we have (are) looking at. We have a 6000 ft2 house now with more than 1/2 acre; all in plants and trees...tons of work. I don't mind doing the yardwork but working full time means my weekends are pretty much yard work maratons. We also have a 1500 ft2 cabin an hour away that is on 5 acres. We would like to expand it from 2 to three bedrooms and expand the living area and move there after ER. The hitch is that the area is frequently snowbound in winter so a SnowCat would be required 8). We are still in the thinking stages but have been considering it after ER. It would take about $150,000 to do what we want to it but selling the HUGE house would allow a mortgage free house in the mountains. Longer term when our health goes South, we can keep the cabin for family and find a condo somewhere.

Now to find a place for all the stuff in this place.

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