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Did your RE downsize/home strategy work out as you had hoped?
Old 05-23-2016, 06:05 AM   #1
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Did your RE downsize/home strategy work out as you had hoped?

I am 3 - 4 yrs from potential FIRE and like many, want to downsize from the big house, but right now, that's about all I feel somewhat sure about. In a perfect world, I would like to sell my basement, 1/2 my yard, my pool, and a couple of bedrooms/bathrooms, but that unfortunately won't work. Cutting my total SF in 1/2 with a smaller yard will save me time & $. I realize making this type of decision is very personal and I still have some time to figure it out which basically means, what I think I want to do today, may change in a few yrs. So here is what I THINK I want/not want to do as of today...

- move to a smaller house, say 3K - 3.5K SF, master on the main, small, private yard... Hopefully cut my maintenance/utility costs significantly
- stay in my generally area close to family, friends (4 kids who will all be out of college by then and wife has big family nearby)
- I'm not a move to FL guy, 2 house guy (I think unless 1 is a condo), live in a high rise guy.

So my question is this... Do you feel like you made the right decision when you made your RE housing change? What steps did you take before to help confirm your plan? Any regrets looking back, anything you might have done differently?

Again, I know it's personal, but it's a big decision especially when you are making a decision to sell the "family" home.
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Old 05-23-2016, 06:22 AM   #2
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I'm very happy with our housing changes but the change was not as extreme as what you are considering.

Before retiring, we had a ~2,700 sf 4-bedroom raised ranch with 1.7 acres and an attached garage and a pool. We also had a 980 sf 3-season lakefront cottage.

Just before retiring we demolished and rebuilt the cottage..... doubling the space and designed for 1-floor living in our old age and replaced the 1 car garage with a 2 car garage with an attic loft that is DW's hobby room and storage so between the house and the garage loft we now have ~2,400 sf.

We sold out main home and made the cottage our main home. However we will soon close on a ~1,400 sf winter condo. No regrets at all.... we love living on the lake but winters not so much... hence the winter condo.
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Old 05-23-2016, 06:39 AM   #3
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We're keeping our larger home in PA for summers, but sold a second 4 bedroom 2100 sf home in FL and bought a 1200 sf 2 bedroom condo on the beach. We can still sleep 4 guests and condo rules limit their stay to 2 weeks. We're happy with the change even though it's further from family in Florida, but not a bad drive.


Enjoying life!
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Old 05-23-2016, 06:55 AM   #4
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....condo rules limit their stay to 2 weeks. ...
I think I'll claim this even though our condo has no such restrictions.
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Old 05-23-2016, 07:05 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by DawgMan View Post

So my question is this... Do you feel like you made the right decision when you made your RE housing change? What steps did you take before to help confirm your plan? Any regrets looking back, anything you might have done differently?

Again, I know it's personal, but it's a big decision especially when you are making a decision to sell the "family" home.
My impression is many people look at their housing from a financial perspective, but once in retirement, lifestyle becomes more important. Two key questions are how close are we to the people we want spend time with and how much time and effort do we want to put into maintaining our house?
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Old 05-23-2016, 07:11 AM   #6
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I am in the process of downsizing, partly because I think it is a good time to sell, but also will never live in a house this big again in my life. I think the decision is highly personal, but nobody needs more than 3k square feet.
The process of fixing up the house and cleaning for sale has been a huge drain, I realized how much time I actually spend maintaining and cleaning, I literally spent an entire saturday just cleaning the windows.
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Old 05-23-2016, 08:00 AM   #7
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We went from 4300 sq ft/~.5 acre to a 2500 sq ft/.2 acre lot in a gated community that also includes yard maintenance. The only thing that could have been better would be a bit more closet space, but lifestyle wise the freedom from yard work and cost savings where big positives. We also ended up about 2 miles from our old house, and were happy not to move to a new area, as we loved this locale.
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Old 05-23-2016, 08:57 AM   #8
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I went the other way. After I divorced many years ago, I had a pretty small, simple house that met my needs. As my stock options and personal wealth soared I stayed in the house, knowing I was likely to move to another area when I ER'd. As I approached ER I built a house more than double the size. I only regret going overboard when I pay the heating bill or at cleaning time, but really, the hump to get over in cleaning is getting started. Once I have the vacuum cleaner out it doesn't bother me to be doing it for a longer time. If I was to move again I'd downsize by at least a third. In the meantime I'm going to enjoy the excess.
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Old 05-23-2016, 09:50 AM   #9
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We went from 3400 sf two story to 2500 sf one story, staying in the same general neighborhood. Perfect for us at this point.
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:03 AM   #10
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Moved last July 1.

Things that worked out as expected: not much appreciation on old house, pitched/sold/donated lots of stuff to de-clutter, showings when house was on market were major pain (they want you outta there), moving was chaotic even with "professionals". We DID get the smaller house we wanted; went from 5 BR, 3 full baths, 2 half baths on 3 floors plus pool to 4 BR, 3 baths, two stories. Very happy with reduced cash flow for mortgage, utilities and other regular carrying costs.

Things that worked out worse than expected: Spent WAY more than we planned fixing up/cleaning old house. Professional cleaning and landscaping, tiled 2 bathroom floors (replacing yucky older coverings), paid major bucks to repair cracked cement pad around pool, replaced stained carpeting, $3,000 for surprise repair of clogged drain in basement. Feedback from potential buyers whined about "dated" light fixtures, wall colors and appliances NOT stainless steel. They didn't care about all the popcorn ceiling crap and ugly wallpaper I'd removed over the years. Bank wouldn't loan us as much as we wanted to borrow (I swear they ignored our investments and focused only on our total $34K pension + SS). We knew we were rolling the dice with a 20-year old HVAC system in the house we bought; both heating and A/C have had to be replaced. The work we knew we wanted to do (enclose back porch and replace some windows) cost a lot more than expected.

Things that worked out better than expected: we found a house on a small lake- never thought that would happen. Every day we admire the views through that side of the house (including the newly-enclosed porch) and marvel at our luck in finding this gem. I bought a kayak and we're still identifying new species of birds that flock to our feeders. We'd do it all over again but are glad we won't have to in the near future!
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:16 AM   #11
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We also went the other way. We had a 2bdrm 1 bath 1102 sq ft house on 1/4 acre, and decided to add a second bathroom (since he's now home more after retiring.) Now at 1147 square feet. Perfect size for us. Plus the new bathroom is adjacent to the guest room, so guests can enjoy having their own. Give me a small house on a large lot any day. I am a gardener, and live in a great climate for it. We also added a "she shed" in the backyard, which I use as my art studio. Could be used by future owners as a home office-so effectively we added a third bedroom. It's funny, the more you make your property into your perfect space, the less you want to leave it. We're here for good, I think!
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:23 AM   #12
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We moved last Fall, and I finally got around to posting about our experiences in this thread:

We downsized (and are still married)!

After 8 months, as we sit on our patio and watch a gaggle of guys come into the yard and mow, trim, blow, etc., we discuss weekly how happy we are we did this. I NEVER sat and enjoyed our 3/4 acre yard at the old house. There was constantly something to do - oooh, I see a weed over there, OMG the dog dug that mulch away from the tomatoes, etc. We're enjoying life so much more. As I said in the thread, it cost us to do this, but this is our final home. We can stay here, hopefully until the very end. Good luck - take your time and don't rush. It is a big decision, but it sounds like you're ready, or almost anyway. Keep us posted! I always like to hear the experiences of others.
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:24 AM   #13
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When we RE'd we had a 4950 sq ft main home and a 2400 sq winter home. Three years later we purchased a 2500 sq ft home in our winter home neighborhood, gutted it and added a 950 sq ft guest casita. Sold the other two homes.

Remodeled home is all one level, no stairs, no lawn (just rocks and some fake turf), walk in or wheel in showers without doors, etc, etc.

After 25 years of owning vacation homes we are now down to one. When it gets god awful hot we head out and rent on VBRO or homeaway for a month at a time. This summer's destination...Park City Utah. Next year either Oregon coast or Cape Cod!
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:31 AM   #14
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We went from 4200 square feet (Atlanta area) to a 3250 square foot home on 4 wooded acres knowing no one in MegaCompany would be allowed to work to age 65.. After 13 years, my wife was getting a little bored and started looking at foreclosure houses.

We bought a open floorplan 5000+ square foot, 5 bedroom, 5 bath house all brick house with two double car garages from a local credit union. The downstairs man cave is 25' x 47' with a 10 1/2' ceiling--a ballroom essentially. We paid 75% of what our neighbors paid for comparable houses.

Only issue so far is my wife gets really mad trying to find me in the house--it's so large. I cannot hear her calling me.

I'll be spending some of my summer landscaping our old house so I can get the curb appeal up--to get top dollar.

What's ridiculous is that I also have a lake house across town that's worth more than we paid for the new house--with 1/3 the square feet of floor space.
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:49 AM   #15
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I love this thread! I didn't exactly downsize, but couldn't help posting anyway. I guess you can skip the post if you are only interested in downsizing.
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Originally Posted by DawgMan View Post
So my question is this... Do you feel like you made the right decision when you made your RE housing change?
It was absolutely the right decision for me, because I got the house I have always dreamed of.

OK, OK, I admit it. I never bought the big house to begin with. During my 6th year of retirement, I bought and moved into a smaller house - - 42 sf smaller. Both houses were in the 1500-1600 sf range. My present house was more expensive than my previous house by about 20%, so you might say that I upsized rather than downsizing.

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What steps did you take before to help confirm your plan?
The first step was to decide where we wanted to live. At first we wanted to move up north, but then at the last minute we changed our minds.

After we decided not to move away, the next step was spending about four years browsing the local real estate listings every day, searching high and low for my dream house. In 2014 I thought I had found it, and even made an offer. Thank goodness someone else snatched it out from under me, because it just wasn't a very good "fit" for me and my lifestyle.

While taking a break from my search, on 5/1/2015 I actually saw a realtor putting up the "For Sale" sign on what is now my home. It wasn't even on the MLS yet. I *JUMPED* on it and arranged to have the first showing. Not only was it in a much better neighborhood and right next door to F, it was also my perfect home with every feature I had ever dreamed of, and it was way underpriced for the neighborhood. Within just hours I submitted a full price cash offer, which was accepted.

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Any regrets looking back, anything you might have done differently?
I would have done this earlier in my retirement. I was 67 by the time I moved, and I expected to be physically able to do the things I could in my 20's. I know, I know. Anyway, I majorly overdid it, injured myself multiple times (mostly but not all minor injuries), and I am still recovering physically from the move.

If I had it to do again at age 67, I'd take one suitcase to the Extended Stay America and stay there. Then I'd continue to live my life with all my normal daily routines intact, eating healthy food and continuing regular gym workouts, while telling the movers to do all of the packing for me. Always before I have been too cheap frugal to do that, but there really ARE times when that is a smart choice to make. I didn't know that.


Quote:
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My impression is many people look at their housing from a financial perspective, but once in retirement, lifestyle becomes more important. Two key questions are how close are we to the people we want spend time with and how much time and effort do we want to put into maintaining our house?
Wow, this post is "right on the money" for me. My dream home is about 15 feet from F's house and it is so convenient. We get together a lot more now than we did, and like not having to drive clear across the suburb to see one another. Also my house is very low maintenance. The yard is essentially zero maintenance, now that I have had it completely re-done with that in mind. This is good because I plan to never move again. In a sense getting the maintenance down to almost nothing is preparation to charge into my old age and tackle it the best I can, when that time comes.
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:11 AM   #16
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My impression is many people look at their housing from a financial perspective, but once in retirement, lifestyle becomes more important. Two key questions are how close are we to the people we want spend time with and how much time and effort do we want to put into maintaining our house?
+1... our sentiments exactly!

Went from 2400 to 1700sqft ..3 bed to 2... moved to active adult community to make new friends and play golf (no kids, extended families).
Re doing our 8 year old house with new carpet, wood floors, walk in shower so it is exactly like we want it to be. So far so very good...
good luck!
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:30 AM   #17
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Only issue so far is my wife gets really mad trying to find me in the house--it's so large. I cannot hear her calling me.
My father suffered from that same affliction. The house has strange acoustic properties, because in some nearby rooms he heard nothing (the garage is dirty and needs cleaning) but from the other side of the house he could hear a whisper (dinner is ready).
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:45 AM   #18
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Feedback from potential buyers whined about "dated" light fixtures, wall colors and appliances NOT stainless steel.
It never ceases to amaze me that the easiest fixes in a home (fixtures, paint, appliances) often get the most attention from buyers, while truly important things like the furnace, plumbing, electrical, roof, foundation, etc. are an afterthought or a non-issue.
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:46 AM   #19
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We haven't downsized yet and are struggling a bit with the idea. So threads like this are very interesting to me.

Our house is 4500sf on 2.2 acres with a pool and a 550sf detached living space. It backs up to a 10-acre lake that we share with 8 other similar properties. Financially, we don't need to downsize, and could probably afford to hire out more of the maintenance and upkeep. But at this point, I enjoy the maintenance and remodeling projects. There's always a long list of things to do, but I enjoy the satisfaction of doing almost everything myself and learning new skills. Cleaning is a pain, but we have a fairly regimented schedule and division of chores. So that's manageable, and again, we could afford to outsource that at some point.

We truly love the property and the neighborhood, but we know the day will come when it's too much. Kids are all nearby and with their growing families, it's nice to have the space for everyone to come together for big family gatherings. We are open to downsizing and have been looking. But we have very specific requirements for the new place, so it will take quite a while to find.

Biggest issue is just the emotional attachment built up over many years of watching our kids grow up and making this place our "family" home. Deep down, it feels like the wrong decision to stay here with just the two of us. But here we sit on the patio overlooking the pool, with our coffee, while the dog chases a family of geese back into the lake.
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:48 AM   #20
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My father suffered from that same affliction. The house has strange acoustic properties, because in some nearby rooms he heard nothing (the garage is dirty and needs cleaning) but from the other side of the house he could hear a whisper (dinner is ready).
That seems to be a common acoustical anomaly. Whaddya bet the govt has paid out some big grant money to research the phenomenon?
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