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Downsizing
Old 04-13-2013, 02:30 PM   #1
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Downsizing

this is all starting to feel 'real'. My severance has been approved so I will be leaving megacorp in August. I'm excited, happy as can be, and a bit scared that I'm jumping too soon (only get 85 - 90% success in FIRECalc and FIDO RIP). I also have some fluff in my numbers so I'm hoping at the end of the day the worst thing that happens is that I have to live on SSI alone at the age of 85 or 90 .... my mom does it, and her life isn't awful, so I know it can be done.

We started cleaning out the spare bedroom closets in our current home today. OMG what a bunch of useless cr&p in those closets ! The master bedroom closets will be tougher and we'll start on those next week.

Current home has his and her offices which is going to be REALLY hard to give up, but the only way I can ER is to downsize to reduce property taxes, homeowners insurance and maintenance costs. Not having a private pool is going to hurt a bit also, but I won't miss the expense !

We will be moving to a 55+ community with dozens of clubs, three 9 hole golf courses, and two community pools. House size will go from 2800 sq ft to 1400, which is smaller than even our first house was !

Don't know why I'm posting this ... guess I just want to share with people who have gone through the same or will be going through this process. As we continue to clean up I'll update the thread. Hopefully someone finds it useful.

I can't believe I'm really doing this .... and I really hope I don't freak out as I start seeing my portfolio deplete rather than grow.
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Old 04-13-2013, 03:15 PM   #2
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We are at a somewhat similar point as you are L&L. We watch house hunters international where people are going to live in some exotic location for a year or so to live in furnished apartments, then look at all the junk in our garage alone and wonder how long it will take to get rid of all this stuff!

We have really been enjoying the whole decluttering process. I have sold to Amazon (they buy books and DVDs for gift cards), a collectibles dealer, on Craigslist, at our neighborhood garage sale and at the local half price book store. The rest went to Goodwill or other charity thrift shops. It is fun making money, helping charities and simplifying our lives.

People have spent hours packing up and moving collections and exercise equipment we sold and we just think that is hours worth of packing and moving we will not have to do. It has also been a good lesson for us on how little consumer goods sell for used. I really try to limit what I buy new now.

I can't wait to downsize and move to a cheaper location. I just hope we can declutter enough to sell before home prices in our area drop. They are crazy high right now. We should be able to get a newer house than we have now for about a quarter of the price in a lower COL area.

Your 55+ community sounds like a lot of fun.
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Old 04-13-2013, 03:23 PM   #3
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Well first off congratulations.

As far as "downsizing” goes you'll be fine.

I grew up with 5 brothers and sisters for a household of 8 in a house of about 900 square feet. It was tight but we managed and all the kids still get along great (all in our 50's now) and I suffered no "sacrifices" from it.
DW and I had no kids and our present house which I built myself is about 1600-1900 sq ft depending how one measures it. I still feel guilty for building even that big but it is very energy efficient and relatively inexpensive to heat etc.
I can't see us ever leaving here because we enjoy it so much unless it's "feet first" as they say but you never know.
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Old 04-13-2013, 03:57 PM   #4
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I retired two years ago-also with a nice severence package that we are still living on. Pension starts later this year. We had a large empty house....3500 sq feet with a finished basement. We only really used 4 rooms-kitchen, family, office, and bedroom. We decided to downsize. We spent 9 months preparing to sell and getting rid of things. We did not see what we wanted...bungalow condo so we decided to travel. What went into an 8X8X16 container is what we kept. The rest went. It was so liberating. And we know there are items in that container that we will be discarding when we finally unpack!

So, we now have no fixed address. We travelled from Sept to mid March. We are now living in a furnished condo for three months-with our two suitscases and carry ons. If we don't see what we want, we will either rent or go off and travel for a few more months.

We found that after 7 months or so of travel, and living in much smaller accomodations, that our tastes and preferences have changed. We now want 1400 sq. feet max and it has to be something that we can walk away from for months at a time. A big bonus that we really had not considered was the decrease in costs when you downsize. For us it was substantial. The costs and the value of money tied up in the house amounted to over 1400. month-net of what we pay to have the container stored in a heated, dry, safe warehouse location.

You will not regret downsizing. It is not just about the money either. It is so much easier to live in a smaller environment.
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:07 PM   #5
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I retired two years ago-also with a nice severence package that we are still living on. Pension starts later this year. We had a large empty house....3500 sq feet with a finished basement. We only really used 4 rooms-kitchen, family, office, and bedroom. We decided to downsize. We spent 9 months preparing to sell and getting rid of things. We did not see what we wanted...bungalow condo so we decided to travel. What went into an 8X8X16 container is what we kept. The rest went. It was so liberating. And we know there are items in that container that we will be discarding when we finally unpack!

So, we now have no fixed address. We travelled from Sept to mid March. We are now living in a furnished condo for three months-with our two suitscases and carry ons. If we don't see what we want, we will either rent or go off and travel for a few more months.

We found that after 7 months or so of travel, and living in much smaller accomodations, that our tastes and preferences have changed. We now want 1400 sq. feet max and it has to be something that we can walk away from for months at a time. A big bonus that we really had not considered was the decrease in costs when you downsize. For us it was substantial. The costs and the value of money tied up in the house amounted to over 1400. month-net of what we pay to have the container stored in a heated, dry, safe warehouse location.

You will not regret downsizing. It is not just about the money either. It is so much easier to live in a smaller environment.
Here, here. Well written. We have half experienced this downsizing from our suburban mcmansion to a rented bungalow in the city. As we Semi-Er and then ER we hope to go the "full monty" as you have. The feeling of liberation is fantastic. That rental garbage bin in our driveway during the move is still one of my favourite adult experiences.
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:16 PM   #6
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August will come quick! Consider whether or not you need to update your golf clubs!
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:48 PM   #7
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Congrats and best of luck with the move. We are just now starting to tackle downsizing, really wish we had started sooner. DW and I are not quite aligned so I love when folks share their successful downsizing stories.
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:56 PM   #8
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Sooner or later we will downsize as well. Right now in a house about 1500sf but with 1000sf workshop and an acre. Fine for now but looking more towards a nice boring 2-3 bedroom 1100-1200sf house with a garage eventually. Possibly even smaller....extra crap can go in the garage.
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Old 04-13-2013, 09:16 PM   #9
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So, we now have no fixed address. We travelled from Sept to mid March. We are now living in a furnished condo for three months-with our two suitscases and carry ons. If we don't see what we want, we will either rent or go off and travel for a few more months.
Wow - that sounds like a dream ! Not sure I could do that. I can't say that I NEED alot of stuff, but I'd miss my little mementos and photos. Which reminds me .... I'll probably spend my first three months of retirement scanning photos !
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:13 AM   #10
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We downsized this winter from 4100 to 1200 sq feet! The old house also had a 2000 square foot attic that had a full stairway, and some seasonal living space. We sold a lot of furniture to the new owners, since they were upsizing. We still are in the process of downsizing some items, since we are out of room, despite purging a lot of items. All in all, we are the envy of our friends, parents, etc. As a side note, we upsized the yard from a city lot to one acre, which will keep us busy gardening, etc.
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:14 AM   #11
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Oh, and we downsized the stairway steps to our bedroom - 21 to 0.
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:24 AM   #12
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We just downsized, from a 2 story 4 BR to a smaller 1 story, 3BR. We got rid of a ton of stuff. Actually, we're better than most, as we've moved every 6-8 years for my w&rk and this forces us to go through all the cr&p again. It's a great feeling to declutter.
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:40 AM   #13
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We downsized last May from 4,000 sf with lots of storage to 2,300 sf with hardly any. It was easy getting rid of the extra furniture on craigslist but we still have to much stuff in boxes that rarely gets used and stuff we've stored up from when the kids were around.
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:14 AM   #14
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Great success stories ! 48Fire, your story is inspiring.

Current home has two attics (one above the second story the other above the garage). The main attic is thankfully empty. The small attic has about the same amount of space that the new house will. Its mostly Christmas decorations but there are a few items that will not be moving with us. I'll also be going from a 2 story to a 1 story - looking forward to not climbing stairs to retrieve stuff that I've forgotten !

Fishingmn - give the kids their stuff ! My mom recently gave me my report cards from 2nd through 6th grade !! It was fun looking at them. I've scanned them in and gotten rid of the paper. I remember asking my mom to also hang onto my college textbooks .... I don't know what I was thinking ! The biology books are so outdated ! And the history books are now ancient history.
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:51 AM   #15
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To downsize or not, that is the question DW and I keep discussing. Current house is too big, but we love the town and neighborhood. If we downsize, we'd probably have to go to a different town to pocket some $s, and purchase a smaller house with comparable amenities. So we plan to go through the decluttering process over the next several months, and will also spend some $s upgrading some parts of existing house (eg bathrooms) while we decide to stay or go.
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Old 04-14-2013, 12:58 PM   #16
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We did three passes at going through our house. The first was not great, the discard pile was too small. By the time we did the third round we became brutally honest with ourselves and truly got rid of things that we did not want or use. Kijiji was our friend as were any friends who wanted any of our unwanted items.

We painted and cleaned just about every room in the house (23 gallons later) but we had a rule. Once the room was emptied and painted, nothing other than bare bones furniture was put back. Everything else in the room either went directly to social services agencies or to the dumpster. This 'rule' worked well for us. We wanted to avoid moving piles of unwanted items from room to room to basement to garage etc.

Our rental condo is close to downtown and good public transportation. One car is still in storage but now we are considering giving one to our son since we do not think that we need two cars...and on those few occasions that we do need a second car we can always rent one.
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:05 PM   #17
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About a year ago we sold the 5 bed 3 bath home and moved just down the street into a 2 bed 1 bath house. We are down to one kid at home from five at the high water mark. 5 - 7 years til ER. And no mortgage debt will for sure help the ER plans. We are still trying to get rid of stuff. Many trips to the resale shop and still have lots of stuff to get rid of
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:46 PM   #18
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We downsized last year, going from a 4-bedroom 2,500 sqft house plus garage and attics to a 2-bedroom 1,100 sqft apartment with no garage or storage room.

We ended up getting rid of about 70% of our stuff over a period of 6 months.

For starters, the 2 offices, the library and the guest room were consolidated into a single multi-use room. We kept only one desk for the desktop computer (the one I use all day long) while DW's home office went "mobile" with a laptop. So I can be working on my computer in the guest room/office and she can be working on hers in another room. We share printers, scanners, etc... Paper records were scanned and are now stored in the computer. We got rid of many books, going the e-book route when possible. We kept only about 200 paper books. Music, photos, movies, etc.. were all digitized.

Everything in the garage and attic had to go except for a few X-mas decorations.

The kitchen, living room, dining room, and master bedroom had to be condensed somewhat (mostly getting rid of the knick knack). The family photos that were scattered all over the house were scanned and are now displayed on a single digital picture frame displayed prominently in our living room.

Finally I made some kits (in bins) for occasionally used stuff. For example, we have an office-in-a-bin kit, a craft-room-in-a-bin kit, a sewing-room-in-a-bin kit, a photostudio-in-a-bin kit, etc... If DW wants to sew something for example, we pull the bin out, and the dining area can be turned into a sewing room. The bin contains everything needed (needles, scissors, rulers, pins, buttons, threads, and what not). The bins can be stored neatly out of view when not in use.
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:49 PM   #19
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Finally I made some kits (in bins) for occasionally used stuff. For example, we have an office-in-a-bin kit, a craft-room-in-a-bin kit, a sewing-room-in-a-bin kit, a photostudio-in-a-bin kit, etc... If DW wants to sew something for example, we pull the bin out, and the dining area can be turned into a sewing room. The bin contains everything needed (needles, scissors, rulers, pins, buttons, threads, and what not). The bins can be stored neatly out of view when not in use.
That is a great idea with the bins. We need to figure out how to condense our stuff better. We have gotten rid of so much and there is still so much to go. We have one car back in the garage now for the first time in a few years.

We were talking today about being happy when we lived in one or two bedroom apartments (one with three pools) and had our weekends more free for fun instead of yard work, home repairs and cleaning. We never sat around saying gee, if only we had more rooms filled with depreciating consumer goods we rarely use, that would be the good life.
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Old 04-14-2013, 09:11 PM   #20
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Since my divorce 12 years ago (when the boys were 12 and 15), I have downsized from 2400 SF to 1500 to 850 and now about 600 (the boys are one their own now!).

I purge clothes and books and other things constantly and still had tons of stuff to give/throw away in each move.

I like to take a "positive" approach to downsizing stuff: instead of asking myself "what should be thrown away?" I ask: "what do I really want to keep?". I feel better that way--I'm making a conscious decision to keep only what really means something--useful and beautiful things. Sometimes it has to be a game: I can only keep 5 of these 50 books--which 5 will it be?
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