It's easy to understand why we put off the decision of whether or not to downsize. Most of us have a strong emotional attachment not only to our home itself, but to the lifestyle it connotes. And while it's one thing to give up extra closets, a gourmet kitchen, or additional space in the garage, it's quite another to no longer be able to host big family celebrations or have the ability to house all the kids and grandkids when occasions arise. Then there's the work of finding a new place to live followed by cleaning, packing and moving - no wonder this decision causes so much anxiety.
As a result, many people make the mistake of waiting too long before finding a smaller, more easily managed home. They put off a decision until an illness or financial crisis occurs at which point they are forced to make a move while under stress. Being proactive and having the time to plan a move while you're still in good health will greatly reduce the trauma of downsizing.
So how do you decide if the time is right for this major change in lifestyle? Ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you living in all of the house or just a few rooms?
2. Does your home's design and layout fit your present and future physical needs? What would it cost to make necessary changes?
3. Is the upkeep of your home creating a financial burden?
4. Is routine home maintenance becoming too difficult for you to do?
5. Are you having problems finding service people to help you take care of your home?
6. Have most of your family and friends already moved out of the area?
There are many good reasons to move into a more streamlined home. A smaller house means lower property taxes, insurance, utility and maintenance costs. Your time and money will be freed up for other activities, hobbies and travel. If you decide that downsizing is right for you, take the time to do your research and figure out exactly where you'd like to move before putting your existing home on the market. If the thought of sorting and packing is overwhelming, hire a move manager to help you execute it all (see the National Association of Senior Move Managers). And make sure to investigate all your options -- you might be pleasantly surprised at the variety of housing choices out there.