The Ex­perts’ Guide to Down­siz­ing

Reader's Digest (Canada) - - Contents - VANESSA MILNE

IT’S EASY TO SEE the ap­peal of mov­ing from a big home into a com­pact space that re­quires less main­te­nance. But the process in­volves care­ful plan­ning. Here are seven tips to make sure you find the right fit.

BE RE­AL­IS­TIC ABOUT YOUR BUD­GET

“The big­gest mis­per­cep­tion is that peo­ple equate down­siz­ing with pay­ing less,” says Barb Sukkau, the pres­i­dent-elect of the Cana­dian Real Es­tate As­so­ci­a­tion and a re­al­tor in the Ni­a­gara re­gion. “But a lot of new bun­ga­lows and con­do­mini­ums are quite pricey.” If you need your house to pro­vide a nest egg, con­sider other ways you can make your bud­get work, such as look­ing for homes in a less ex­pen­sive lo­ca­tion.

DON’T GET CAUGHT BY UN­EX­PECTED COSTS

Even if you make money off the sale of your home, mov­ing will take a

bite out of your prof­its. Clos­ing costs—which in­clude things like a home in­spec­tor fee, bank ap­praisal fee and, in many prov­inces, land trans­fer tax—range from 1.5 to 4 per cent of the sell­ing price. If you’re buy­ing a condo, fac­tor in monthly main­te­nance fees and keep a small re­serve for un­fore­seen ex­penses.

BUY A PLACE YOUR FU­TURE SELF WILL THANK YOU FOR

Even if you’re pur­chas­ing at 60, think of what your body will be able to man­age at 80. That might mean search­ing for a res­i­dence that doesn’t have stairs or scop­ing out lo­ca­tions that have ameni­ties within walk­ing dis­tance. An­other op­tion is to con­sider a condo or a town­house, where monthly fees buy you snow re­moval, re­pairs and the main­te­nance of com­mon ar­eas.

START WITH

THE END IN MIND

Sukkau says a sur­pris­ing num­ber of peo­ple buy a place that fits their fur­ni­ture, rather than the other way around. “I’ll have cou­ples say, ‘Oh, this bed­room won’t fit my king-sized bed­room suite,’” ex­plains Sukkau. Buy the place that’s right for your life­style—even if it means sell­ing your stuff and pur­chas­ing condo-sized fur­ni­ture af­ter, or rent­ing a stor­age locker to house heir­looms.

SCHED­ULE A DE­CLUT­TER­ING DATE

Be­fore you move, you must sort through your stuff. Vic­to­ria, B.C.based Stephanie Deakin, pres­i­dent of Pro­fes­sional Or­ga­niz­ers in Canada, rec­om­mends tack­ling the project in two- to three-hour chunks. That’s enough to get one task done—like clean­ing out the kitchen cup­boards or your closet—but not so much that you’ll be over­whelmed. “Block that time out on your cal­en­dar and hon­our that ap­point­ment,” she says.

PRO­CRAS­TI­NATE A BIT

Not ev­ery de­ci­sion needs to be made im­me­di­ately. If you can’t choose be­tween two end ta­bles, pack them both or re­visit the de­ci­sion in a week, says Deakin. Some­times you won’t be 100 per cent sure about a choice you need to make; know­ing that there’s room to re­cal­i­brate af­ter­wards can al­low you to move for­ward.

GET EN­THU­SI­AS­TIC ABOUT WHAT’S AHEAD

There are a lot of feel­ings tied up in leav­ing a home—es­pe­cially one you’ve lived in for a long time. Still, think about how your new house will help you live the life­style you want “Ob­vi­ously [peo­ple are] mov­ing for a rea­son,” says Sukkau. “It is emo­tional, but it’s also ex­cit­ing. It’s a new ad­ven­ture.”

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