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"Downsizing" - did you adjust to it?
Old 10-05-2014, 08:44 AM   #1
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"Downsizing" - did you adjust to it?

Not FIRE'd yet, but close.

I've been thinking about our eventual downsizing after we are empty nesters.

We would have a pretty penny in the equity we have with our mortgage almost paid off, but I don't think I could adjust to apartment or condo living again.

The thought of noisy neighbors throwing parties, arguments you can hear thru the walls, fighting for parking spaces, the rule Nazi's on the HOA committee...been there several times - don't want to go back.

If we downsize, it'll have to be to a detached but smaller house in a 'peaceful' neighborhood.

Am I over reacting to what 'downsizing' means?

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Old 10-05-2014, 09:06 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by BBQ-Nut View Post

If we downsize, it'll have to be to a detached but smaller house in a 'peaceful' neighborhood.

Am I over reacting to what 'downsizing' means?
IMO - Good plan, no you are not over reacting.

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Old 10-05-2014, 09:42 AM   #3
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Well, I haven't downsized, but I do have friends and family who have downsized. It depends a lot on how "down" you're going to "size". A high-end condo is not like the cheesey unit you lived in while you were in college. My husband's uncle really resisted the downsize plan, but now he says it's "like being at a resort every day." He swims, visits with his friends from the old neighborhood and his new neighbors and just loves that he no longer has yardwork. Another friend has a gorgeous condo that takes up a single floor of a beautiful building with a smashing view and easy proximity to restaurants, etc., but we had almost no rain last winter so he wasn't taking the dog out on cold, rainy nights. The cost of the condo was less than the sale price of his house and the monthly maintenance fee is less than the taxes and maintenance of the house. On the other hand, if you want to garden or enjoy puttering around in your shop or with home maintenance, then you aren't ready for a condo.
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Old 10-05-2014, 09:51 AM   #4
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We're staying in place. DW doesn't know the meaning of "downsize".
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leave town
Old 10-05-2014, 10:13 AM   #5
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leave town

Can you live away from coastal and some urban amenities?

Consider moving an hour or more, away from the edge of a city, if you live near one, or into the next state if you are on the coast. Find a town that has at least one of everything you need. The RE will be cheap enough that you will be in a SFH, not stacked up in a condo. Rent for a year if you are buying.

My retiree/tourist community has filled out with California refugees, due to the lower costs. We live 90 minutes from two million people, but they visit on weekends. Outdoor recreation that suits me is good here in the foothills of the high country, on weekdays.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:28 AM   #6
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Do you need to downsize? Can your SWR meet your current needs? Is the time & money needed to maintain your home preventing you from doing things you want to do? Or is it increasing the risk of SWR failure to the point of making you uncomfortable? Will you miss your neighborhood? etc. etc.

Those were the questions we asked ourselves. We didn't down size, but we moved from a high cost of living area (NJ) to a moderate one (Denver). The latter had a lot of the amenities & opportunities we wanted access to.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:58 AM   #7
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I'm single, never married, no kids, and don't think I'll ever downsize. I like larger living areas, and I like my space.

I also had my fill of shared wall living, so have no plans to ever own a condo or townhome, only detached single family homes.

Right now, I live in a 3000 square foot SFH by myself, which is WAY more room than I need, but I love it. Plenty of space for my hobbies and storage, I converted one bedroom into a dedicated home theater, and no neighbors on the other side of the wall.

When I move back to Colorado next year, if I could take this same home and plop it on a 2+ acre lot, it would be perfect.

The only time I would ever even consider a condo, townhome, or apartment is if I had enough to afford a pied--terre in some place like London, New York, Paris, etc, that I could crash at while I was there, and then lock and leave when done.
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Old 10-05-2014, 11:09 AM   #8
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We've downsized to an urban apartment from a suburban house. We have adjusted to it just fine.

The thought of noisy neighbors throwing parties, arguments you can hear thru the walls, fighting for parking spaces, the rule Nazi's on the HOA committee...been there several times - don't want to go back.
That was my experience as well, when I was a student and rented in cheaper apartment complexes (you forgot the bug infestation due to the pig living next door). So I was more than hesitant to give this a try again after living for a decade in a nice suburban house. But our life here is nothing like our past experiences as renters. We live in a luxury apartment building which solves many of these problems. If anything, I see our downsizing as an upgrade. But if downsizing had meant a lower quality of life, I don't think I would have done it.
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Old 10-05-2014, 12:07 PM   #9
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I just moved into a one-bedroom apartment in a building constructed two years ago. The sound insulation is excellent! I don't hear any of the upstairs, downstairs, next-door neighbors at all! During my apartment hunt, however, I visited online reviews/ratings of local apartments and they ran the gamut of pest-infected meth-head ghettos to the "out of my price range" luxurious gems. I found one that is just right for me. Everything fits, particularly after downsizing and letting go of perhaps 50% of that I owned. I didn't need it; it was just taking up storage space and seldom if ever used in the past five to ten years. (See my other posts about what I disposed of.)

Also, living in a single detached house--either as a homeowner or renter--does not insulate you from neighborhood noise, yapping dogs, neighbor kids having fun and making "kid noise," neighbor musical bands rehearsing, lawn mowers, etc. I learned that after living in the same detached house on its own park-like 2/3rd of an acre. The three barking dogs on various sides of the residence sometimes got out of hand, particularly one that they let outside for an hour or two every night and who yapped and yapped until allowed back inside. They eventually moved away. The kids on the trampoline on the other side of the house. The neighbor pruning his bushes with a loud electric gizmo. And so on.

Don't dismiss apartment/condo living for some of the same things that detached house living entails. I feel like I'm living in a nice hotel, with all the security measures, amenities, desk staff in the lobby, etc. I am truly enjoying my new home.
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Old 10-05-2014, 01:28 PM   #10
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The higher end condos tend to have assigned parking, better sound insulation, etc.

A friend of a friend moved into a high rise condo on the bay in Bellingham, from her home near Lake Whatcom. She loves that she can walk to everything. She loves that she doesn't have to mow the lawn. She loves that she can lock and leave. She's also done some home exchanges so she can spend extended time in Paris, Barcelona, etc. No worries about frozen pipes, yard maintenance, etc. For her, it's the perfect lifestyle.

We've talked about downsizing (in the future) here in San Diego. Since school districts wouldn't be an issue we're looking at parts of Clairemont (with Bay views), areas of North Park (very walkable), etc... We've also looked at some of the condos in UTC and downtown. But... since we still have kids at home - our timeline is 15 years in the future.
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Old 10-05-2014, 01:35 PM   #11
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While I don't care for HOAs there is a place they're needed. Below is an honest to goodness clip from a person my DW grew up with:

'Where she lives there are many gated communities and you have to constantly maintain your house to their standards. They were going to kick them out for having a couch on their porch.'

I wouldn't want to be her neighbor!

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Old 10-05-2014, 02:07 PM   #12
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We have kids, the youngest being 2. I think we're staying put for the next 16 years at least. Even though we currently only use 2 out of 4 bedrooms and rarely use our extra living room. We'd like to travel a lot, but with kids in school 9 months/yr, it's not going to happen for more than a few months per year right now.

Maybe later on if we end up traveling a lot or maintaining an 1800 sf single family house is burdensome or not worth the benefits it provides, then we will look closer at downsizing. I fondly recall the 2 BR condo we lived in during college. There was the occasional crappy neighbor, but most aspects of the place were nice. Pool, nearby friendly neighbors, bus line at our back door, elevated balcony for cool breezes and people watching.

I don't know if we would save much money by downsizing though. The downtown or luxury condos around here start at around 200k for a 2 BR with 1200-1400 sf which would be plenty for the two of us and probably for the kids to visit occasionally. Although I know of some nearby townhouse developments that might turn seedy over time where the same size unit can be had for closer to $100k. With our current house possibly fetching $140-150k, downsizing wouldn't free up much equity (and might actually cost more money) but it would potentially reduce our monthly expenses on taxes, insurance, and maintenance.
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Old 10-05-2014, 02:26 PM   #13
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We downsized from about 3,600 sf to 2,500 sf (and, importantly, no basement! and no stairs). My goal is for my next move to get me to somewhere with a doorman and an elevator, no attic and no yard.
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Old 10-05-2014, 02:39 PM   #14
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We downsized from 4300 ft2 to 2500 a little over a year ago. Best move we ever made, wish we had done this years ago.
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Old 10-05-2014, 03:42 PM   #15
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We never really up sized, but I have lately looked at every decorative household purchase with two questions in mind, will I take it to assisted living in 10ish years or how will my DD dispose of it. Makes me focus on experiences rather than more stuff.
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Old 10-05-2014, 04:02 PM   #16
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Downsized when nest went empty, ~20 years ago. Been in same 2500 sf house since. Nice neighborhood, really not likely to leave until we just can't handle a house or kids move somewhere we would like. However, there are some issues up the street with a couple who has loud parties weekly, so you can't avoid it for sure unless you move to acreage. There is an HOA, but IMO it's been rendered toothless by those who ignore what are quite reasonable requirements. Like the mustard colored house, the completely out of character exterior remodel, and clear cutting lake buffer. I've been encouraged to join the board, but no way. I just roll my eyes and ignore it.

So moving to smaller home can bring problems. Fortunately our next door neighbors have been good, as we share a driveway (cul de sac, lakefront so this maxed the number of lots). Can't see us moving to more remoteness, but I shudder at the thought of a shared wall. Last time we had that we were in college and we fled to a rental house because of the noise. It all depends on construction quality, luck of who your neighbors are, and what your tolerance is. My tolerance diminishes with age. GET OFF MY LAWN!
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Old 10-05-2014, 04:12 PM   #17
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I went the other way! now that I have more time, I want to grow a huge garden and plant >100 trees on out 3 acres and enjoy our privacy and big yard!

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Old 10-05-2014, 10:29 PM   #18
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We bought a 3500 sf condo on the ocean in a spectacular small condo community. The place is quiet as a tomb and has 10-12 ft ceilings and an additional 1200 sf in covered terraces. We love it. The plan was to make that our "home" and eventually rid ourselves of our 4100 sf house on 1.5 acres with extensive landscaping and a pool, and get a smaller urban condo somewhere. We spent some time recently in the condo and returned to the house. Even though nearly the same size, the house feels much larger, yet in a way more cozy, than the condo. Time will tell.
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:30 AM   #19
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Just last month we moved out of our 2900 sq. ft. suburban home of 27 years back to our hometown and a 1488 sq. ft. home on 2 acres. It's a good thing the current house has a full basement to hold all the overflow of excess possessions. The smaller size doesn't seem to be a concern because we weren't using a lot of the space in our previous home.

The biggest problem so far is that we downsized from one attached 2 car garage and one detached 2 car garage into a 2 car attached garage. That will be remedied next year with the building of a new shop for all the tools, cars, and toys.

We are glad to be home again. Our "new" home was actually my Dad's home that I helped him build back in 1973. It has a great yard with lots of mature trees and a wonderful view of a pond in the back yard. In addition to the 1488 sq. ft. house there is a 4 season room on the back which is about 14 ft. wide and 26 ft. long which is really nice to take in that great view.

No neighbors in that view and never will be. House is in a great neighborhood but the closest neighbor it at least 150 yards away on either side.

So in our case, there has been no regrets in downsizing the house.
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:59 AM   #20
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We went from 2900 sq ft to 1450 sq ft. Both detached homes. The original home was in a family neighborhood, the new home is in a 55+ active adult community. The new house is perfect. We use every room and every room is uncluttered since we donated or trashed alot of the stuff that we weren't using. The new home is in a community filled with activities (27 holes of golf, 2 community swimming pools, active clubhouse with dozens of clubs). This is PERFECT and I can't wait to ER so I can start enjoying more of what the community has to offer.

Our reasons for downsizing were to:
* reduce the run rate of maintaining a home (lower taxes, lower insurance, lower maintenance costs, lower electric)
* reduce the amount of work needed to maintain the home - smaller yard, no pool
* reduce the frequency of "screaming and crying children" sounds
* move to a community that provides opportunities to engage in social activities

"For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." ~
Hebrews 12:11

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