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We downsized (and are still married)!
Old 01-13-2016, 03:49 PM   #1
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We downsized (and are still married)!

Last spring we went on the semi-annual parade of homes tour, and realized how huge our existing home and yard were. The yard work consumed far too many weekends, and was taking a toll on us physically. We were already paying someone to cut the grass, but the leaves and landscaping were just not enjoyable as they had been when we first bought the house.

So, we found a nice reverse story and a half in a maintenance free community. Grass is cut, landscaped areas are mulched, irrigation system is maintained, and snow over 2 inches is shoveled. Our old house was built in 1962 - the new one was built in 2007. HVAC is much more efficient, there's much less temperature variation and we're just physically more comfortable, not to mention mentally more relaxed.

Here are some random things I learned:

1. It cost us - big older homes are no longer as desirable (in our area anyway), so we certainly didn't even come out even.

2. We put 66% down and took out a small mortgage, which I don't regret. We could have paid for it in cash, but I like having some cash available and this purchase would have depleted it.

3. I was shocked they gave people in their 60's a 30 year mortgage, but they did. We are throwing a nice extra chunk at the principal each month, and anticipate paying it off in 5-10 years.

4. We started getting rid of "stuff" in March, and moved in September. It was a frenzy since we'd been in the old house for over 30 years. I made the kids take their 'lives in a Rubbermaid tote' - you'd have thought we were putting an anchor on their ankle. So, start early, and be aggressive. You may end up buying a couple of things you donated to Goodwill, but no one died. The adult kids were NOT happy we moved. They loved that old house.

5. I was not prepared for how stressful showing a home can be. I work from home, so it truly was a pain for me. Lots of day showings, but it sold (thanks to St. Joseph being buried in the yard ).

6. We must have said to one another "the goal is to move, right?" We'd made a LOT of improvements to that house, and there is no way we came close to recouping the money. We took a hit, but we are out of that behemoth now, and that's what counts. Someone with 4 kids bought it, and it's their little slice of heaven now.

7. Angie's List was pretty valuable to us, especially when finding a mover. I got a nice discount because I mentioned that's how I found them. We did the packing, and they loaded two huge moving trucks. We loaded one day, stayed in a hotel that night, and unloaded the next day. It was exhausting. I would not have wanted to be any older when we did this. The unpacking was kind of fun (I'm an organizer by nature) but was still very tiring.

8. Have a budget for the new house. You don't know what you don't know until you get moved it. We had a couple of windows that needed replacing, two of the toilets needed updating, we needed a piece or two of furniture to finish things off, and it looks like we'll have to paint the exterior next summer. Another reason I was glad I had a little extra cash.

9. Changing your address after being in the same house is a real PITA. I was sure I had most things changed, and got several nasty surprises.

10. Try not to kill one another. There were days...

So, that's it! I hope someone considering this finds a nugget or two that will help them when they begin their downsizing journey. We thought we'd be driving by the old house because we'd miss it. Haven't been back once.
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Old 01-13-2016, 04:16 PM   #2
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I get #4. I am 46, my sister is 44, and when my parents retired 20 years ago, they brought a few boxes of "our" stuff with them, after we refused to take them. We each still have one box in their basement with our names on them, because we don't want our old report cards and high school letters and things, but my dad won't throw them out.
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Old 01-13-2016, 04:56 PM   #3
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Great post, SumDay, and congratulations on your successful move. As the yard work picks up through the year, you'll pat yourself on the back while you're sitting back and eating bonbons.
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Old 01-13-2016, 05:06 PM   #4
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Downsizing is liberating!
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Old 01-13-2016, 05:45 PM   #5
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Congratulations!!! What a terrific accomplishment.

I moved last summer at age 67, and I can SO relate to how exhausting it can be. I hope I never move again and my plan is to stay right here.

How much of a downsize was it as far as square footage? Your old house sounds huge. Your new house sounds fabulous - - especially due to all the maintenance that you won't ever have to worry about again.

I got rid of things as I packed, and probably only took half my stuff. I was only moving from a 1600 sf house to a 1500 sf house, not much of a downsize, but it seemed like a good time to get rid of stuff.

My new-to-me house didn't need anything inside replaced or changed, really (amazing!). Still, I needed to have the back and front yards completely re-landscaped and that has been going on for several weeks now with a huge work crew and lots of heavy machinery. Also, I needed a new refrigerator, washer, and dryer because the sellers wanted theirs.

As for the cost, it was more than one might expect, I agree! My new house cost more than I got from selling my old house. But the overall cost of buying, selling, and moving was more than twice the difference in house price. It seemed like every day there was another expense for something. Oh well. It was well worth it to me because like you, I love my new home so much.

Great post, thank you for your perspectives on downsizing and moving!
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Old 01-13-2016, 05:49 PM   #6
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Good post.

We had boxes and boxes of things that belonged to our children...both of whom had moved out some time ago. We tried getting them to sort through it but alas they would not.

Fast forward to when we sold and had a sale date. All of a sudden we were asked to just throw out most of that 'valuable stuff' that had been stored in our basement.

Here is something else....we found that some of our furniture was just too large for a smaller home. Especially the dining room suite. We got rid of it, plus lots of other furniture.
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Old 01-13-2016, 05:51 PM   #7
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Congrats Sumday! I want to be like you some day. I do more than 30 hrs a week of yard work from April 1 through November 1. Hopefully we'll downsize some day. Thanks for posting your experiences.


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Old 01-13-2016, 05:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SumDay View Post
....


4. We started getting rid of "stuff" in March, and moved in September. It was a frenzy since we'd been in the old house for over 30 years. I made the kids take their 'lives in a Rubbermaid tote' - you'd have thought we were putting an anchor on their ankle. So, start early, and be aggressive. You may end up buying a couple of things you donated to Goodwill, but no one died. The adult kids were NOT happy we moved. They loved that old house.

...

6. We must have said to one another "the goal is to move, right?" We'd made a LOT of improvements to that house, and there is no way we came close to recouping the money. We took a hit, but we are out of that behemoth now, and that's what counts. Someone with 4 kids bought it, and it's their little slice of heaven now.
4. Yes, our DD would be just like that--when she bought a place with twice as much storage as ours we delivered all her binned mementoes to her that she had saved and you would have thought we were torturing her. "What am I supposed to with all this stuff," she yelled--um, guess what, we don't care! It will be perverse fun to see her reaction if we ever move

6. Someone with four kids is loving your old house--that's wonderful!

Congratulations!!!
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Old 01-13-2016, 05:57 PM   #9
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Thanks for your post ! I'm moving in a little over a year and am just starting get rid of things. If my 2 kids say they want something but "not right now" I'm going to throw it out. I'll be moving by myself with 31 years of accumulation in an 1800 sq ft house with a 10 X 12 shop. I'm moving into a 728 sq ft 1 bedroom apartment. I guess the first thing to do is make my list, and look at Angies List when it gets time to move
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Old 01-13-2016, 06:10 PM   #10
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How much of a downsize was it as far as square footage? Your old house sounds huge. Your new house sounds fabulous - - especially due to all the maintenance that you won't ever have to worry about again.
Our old house was 2 story with a finished basement, and a garage sized man cave we built. The above ground was ~2600 square feet (5 bedrooms) and another 800 finished in the basement.

The new one is 3000, with 4 bedrooms (1 is my office). I know it doesn't sound smaller, but this one has a VERY open floor plan. I can sit in my office and see every room on the main floor, except the master bedroom which is tucked at the end of a hallway. Because it's so open, we could easily live here if one of us is ever in a wheelchair, and you don't need to go downstairs for anything if you don't want to. There are 2 bedrooms downstairs, and a finished pool table (which the previous owners left!) and bar area with a wall full of windows and a walk out to the lower patio.

We have a very strict HOA here, which we were attracted to because our old neighborhood was getting kind of, well, slimy. Junk in yards, not painting houses, cars on blocks. You get the picture. Here, we have to get approval to plant a tree, and the committee reviews what kind it is and where it goes. So far, they've approved everything we've asked for. Friendly neighbors too. I know more people here in 4 months than I did at the old place after 30+ years!
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Old 01-13-2016, 06:20 PM   #11
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Your new house sounds fabulous!

I especially like that it is wheelchair accessible since we never know what life will bring, especially as we grow older. Think of how much your stress would be reduced if one of you was unexpectedly wheelchair bound, knowing that you wouldn't have to alter the home at all to accommodate the wheelchair.


I love that you got a pool table with the house! I'd probably be down there playing pool every day if I was you.

Also, I understand how a house can be more of a downsize than it sounds like. My new-to-me home is only 100 sf smaller, but it has a lot of closets which take up square footage, as well as the laundry room. So it feels smaller than my prior home. It is just right for me.
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Old 01-13-2016, 06:22 PM   #12
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WE went from a 2 story 1800 sq ft home to a 1400 sq ft home and are much happier. I was so sick of the steps. Because we live in a drought area we used astro-turf instead of real grass which means no maintenance for us. I know what you mean about kids-why they want to leave their stuff I don't know. I didn't do that to my parents.
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Old 01-13-2016, 06:35 PM   #13
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Showing the home is stressful. We probably had about 6-8 showings a day and had to get the dog out each time. It turns out I shouldn’t have needed to hire a realtor because my next door neighbors best friends ended up buying the house. That fact still kind of irks me as I know I could have saved a ton of money cutting out the middleman.

Thankfully we only had 2 years of stuff but it was still an eye opener. We moved to an island and literally could only ship two rubbermaid bins a piece so had some SERIOUS downsizing.

I don't know what is more stressful, showing the house, or looking for a new home...they are probably almost eually as stressful.

CONGRATULATIONS on the downsize and life-change. Hopefully the kids will soon come to find the new place "home".

We found a very fitting framed photo to remind us its not about the things... it reads 'Home is wherever I am with you!"
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Old 01-13-2016, 06:41 PM   #14
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When my parents were updating their house a few years ago they'd often pop by with "rubbermaid memories" for me. Didn't ask me to come get, just brought into my house with a starbucks latte in hand, so I couldn't say no!
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Old 01-13-2016, 10:18 PM   #15
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I recently got a Rubbermaid with my receiving blanket, going home outfit, hospital bracelet, and the bill for my delivery! Thankfully mom didn't ask me to reimburse her, though I was a bargain back in1970 at only $250!

Good synopsis of your operation, and I keep hoping that my whittling down of things will mean the task isn't so onerous when that day comes for us.
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