The Unexpected Benefits of Downsizing Your Home
Considering downsizing your home? Read on to learn about the unexpected benefits of downsizing your home today!
Whether you’re a minimalist or a knick-knack enthusiast, downsizing can be a daunting process. On top of the work involved in selling and moving into a new home, you may have years of belongings you need to sort through, making challenging choices about what you can bring along.
If your shift to a smaller house is due to financial distress or health needs, it may be difficult to feel positive about downsizing—but we’re here to show you the bright side. Downsizing can have plenty of silver linings, and there may be more benefits than you expect.
Ready for some light through the cracks? Let’s identify things to look forward to among the unexpected benefits of downsizing your home.
Why Do People Downsize Their Homes?
Downsizing is often associated with a late-life move to a retirement lifestyle, but it can be experienced at any stage of life when an individual or family moves to a smaller property.
Changes that can trigger a downsize might include:
- A home that is now too big without children that have grown up and moved out
- A job loss or other financial situation that requires a more affordable home
- A move to some level of assisted living or more accessible housing
- A move to a more expensive location where you can’t afford as much square footage
- Health changes that require a different environment and/or capital to pay medical costs
Downsizing can also be a choice based on:
- Shifting to a travel lifestyle that reduces time at an investment in a property
- Simplifying your living environment for aesthetic, value-based, or other reasons
- Leaving a rural or suburban area for a city center
Regardless of the cause, downsizing may take some getting used to. As you adapt to your new space, though, it may help to think about all the new benefits you didn’t have before.
The Unexpected Benefits of Downsizing Your Home
Regardless of how you arrived at this fork in the road, you’re stepping into a major change that also offers opportunity.
A move allows you to re-evaluate what you need and want, adjust your belongings to better support your values and daily life, and start fresh with a new environment designed to suit your current needs. But there are also several more specific bonuses you may not expect.
When you downsize, you may be able to:
#1 Lower Your Bills
Downsizing may lead to the financial benefit of lower monthly housing costs with a smaller mortgage or rent payment, but consider the savings you’ll see in utility costs as well. With less square footage to cover, you can anticipate saving on:
- Electricity to heat and cool your home
- Water to clean and soak your lawn
- Trash and recycling fees, if you’re moving to an apartment setting
- Lawn care and snow removal equipment and services
Plus, you can likely look forward to less energy use and a smaller environmental footprint.
#2 Have Less Space to Clean
A cleaning day might turn into a cleaning morning in a smaller home. In a cozier environment, you’ll probably have fewer things to clean:
- Smaller carpeted spaces to vacuum
- Fewer sinks, baths, and toilets to scrub
- Less tiled, wood, or linoleum flooring to wash
- Fewer rooms and less furniture and knick-knacks to dust
Less time cleaning means more time and energy to devote to what you value and enjoy.
#3 Improve Your Mood
Living in a tidier and cleaner environment has proven benefits to mental health. According to a study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the combination of a cleaner home with the act of cleaning is shown to reduce:1
- Depressive symptoms
- Feelings of anxiety
If keeping a larger home clean and sorted has been a challenge, a move to a smaller space can help you set up new organization and cleaning habits, along with these taking less time and work to complete.
#4 Enjoy Maintenance-Free (or Maintenance-Light) Living
If you’re moving from a single-family home to an apartment or a smaller house, you’ll likely save time, money, and worry on maintenance and repair tasks. Some tasks you may be able to eliminate or minimize from your to-do list include:2
- Cleaning chimneys
- Repairing shower, bathtub, and tile caulking and grout
- Inspecting attic interior and roofing for water or pest damage
- Removing and repairing window screens and installing storm windows
- Inspecting plumbing for leaks and cleaning faucet aerators
- Testing the sump pump and inspecting and cleaning basement and window wells
You may also be able to reduce some outdoor tasks, such as:
- Cleaning gutters and checking for exterior drainage
- Inspecting and repairing cracks in driveway and pavement
- Cleaning and repairing decks and patios
- Checking trees for damage or interference with electric lines
- Lubricating the garage door and testing the auto-reverse feature
- Winterizing air conditioners and flushing outdoor water faucets
To bask in the thought of how much less you’ll have to worry about, print out an annual home maintenance checklist and cross off all the tasks you won’t have to be responsible for in your new digs.2
#5 Get More Done With Less Clutter
Unless you’re already a hardcore minimalist, downsizing may include reducing your belongings.
For people who like to collect items or have a frugal “might need that someday” mindset, a large home can easily fill up with gifts, purchases, leftovers, and outgrown items over the years. When you have plenty of storage space, it’s easy to just tuck things away instead of getting rid of them.
However, studies have shown that people with cluttered homes:3
- Are more likely to be fatigued
- Find it more difficult to focus and complete projects
- Are prone to higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone)
Conversely, people who take control of their environment and create a cleaner, more restful, and organized living space:3
- Are better able to focus on important or immediate issues in their lives
- Can complete complex tasks more efficiently
- Tend toward greater calmness, mindfulness, and sense of well-being
Downsizing compels you to sort through the clutter and decide what you really need or want to keep. While the process may be intimidating, the outcome of a less cluttered environment can improve your life.
#6 Spend Less in the Future
Besides clearing up your current clutter, a smaller home is an incentive to avoid frivolous purchases.
You won’t just be spending dollars—you’ll be spending a limited amount of space on each new belonging that comes into the smaller house. A new purchase can include questioning where the item will be used and stored, and allow a pause to consider if you authentically want to own an item or just have the momentary fun of buying it.
#7 Say Goodbye to Belongings That No Longer Serve You
Along with random and forgotten items, whittling down your belongings gives you the opportunity to get rid of the items you’ve been hanging onto for far too long. How many items in your home produce a feeling of guilt or shame instead of a “yes” to Marie Kondo’s perpetual question, “Does this spark joy?”4
These may include:
- Clothes that no longer fit
- Specialty kitchen appliances you rarely-if-ever use
- Unfinished projects and supplies for hobbies you don’t truly enjoy anymore
- Sports or equipment from a differently active period in your life
- Personal correspondence and mementos
- Items or uniforms from a past career
When you’re weeding through your belongings, put a halt to negative feelings by focusing on how you can transform the items rather than telling yourself you’re giving up on a plan or dream. You can:
- Gift belongings to friends or family who will enjoy them
- Donate to organizations that can use or sell them
- List items online or offer freebies to neighbors
#8 Increase Your Portability
If you need to downsize, how about combining the move with a relocation? Consider moving:
- Closer to children, siblings, or other family members
- To a location with a lower cost of living
- Near activities or natural features you enjoy
Living in a smaller space, especially if you’re switching from home ownership to renting, can also free up time, maintenance responsibilities, and budget, all of which can allow you to add more travel to your lifestyle. If you no longer need to winterize a house and worry about ice dams, perhaps you can head south for the cold season instead.
#9 Practice Letting Go
One of the lessons we’re taught over a lifetime is how to let go. Whether it’s children growing out of the cuddly stage into surly teenagers, losing touch with close friends tied to a past job, or financial and health losses—nothing gold can stay.
Consider spending some mindful time walking through your current property. Focus on the joy of early ownership, family times spent in particular rooms, and the way you’ve left your imprint on the property through care or design. You may want to capture some pictures or write down some thoughts to bring with you.
Leaving the property doesn’t reduce the value of your investment in it or what happiness you experienced there—bring those reflections with you while you let go of the physical place.
Streamline Downsizing Your Home With a Sale-Leaseback
If you’re asking yourself, “Should I sell my house and rent?” based on a need to downsize rather than a preferred lifestyle change, a sale-leaseback might be a good fit for you.
Whether it’s due to family or medical complications, the impact of skyrocketing inflation, or you’re about to find out what happens if you can’t pay your mortgage, financial distress doesn’t have to mean losing your current home.
If you have equity built up in your property, it might be the right time to learn more about a sale-leaseback solution that could fit your needs. Many sale-leaseback programs work with homeowners in all financial circumstances, regardless of hardship or credit score, to convert their home equity without having to leave the family home immediately, and without the need of a real estate agent.
From lowering your bills to decluttering your life, downsizing can have a number of benefits. Depending on your circumstance, you have the option to sell and rent or sell and buy a smaller home. If you’re downsizing purely for financial reasons, a sale-leaseback might be the better option for you, allowing you to sell your home, convert your home equity to cash, and then lease back your home.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Physical Activity Reduces Stress. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st
- The Art of Manliness. Keep Your House in Tip-Top Shape: An Incredibly Handy Home Maintenance Checklist. https://www.artofmanliness.com/lifestyle/homeownership/keep-your-house-in-tip-top-shape-an-incredibly-handy-home-maintenance-checklist/
- Verywell Mind. The Relationship Between Mental Health and Cleaning. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-mental-health-and-cleaning-are-connected-5097496#citation-8
- KonMari Media. What is the KonMari Method™ ? https://konmari.com/about-the-konmari-method/