30 Responses to “The Upsides of the Downsize”

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  1. Courtney,

    Thanks again for this reminder that letting go of material possessions makes room in your life for more important things – the relationships and experiences that truly matter.

    I am challenged by the decision to downsize, since I REALLY love my neighbors, but I don’t love the huge house in which I live.

    Keep on doing all the good you do!

    John

  2. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the financial side of not owning and renting. Are you disciplined enough to save what you’re saving in a way that compares with owning a property at retirement? This is one thing that scares me about the financial “road less traveled.” :)

    • Courtney Carver

      Hi Kendra! I don’t think there is a one size fits all situation. In some cases, property taxes are too exorbitant for people owning larger homes into retirement, or they can’t continue to manage the property. And of course, for some, owning is a great option. I just know for us, right now, it’s not.

      I don’t know the statistics, but I’d be surprised if more people in retirement own fully paid for homes than people who rent or are still paying a mortgage.

    • Marla

      Kendra, we downsized by selling our house and buying a condo when we moved to Denver. We have less to take care of and a smaller condo is certainly less expensive than a big house in the same area. Rents are high so buying may make a bit more sense. For us, it was a middle-of-the-road decision of owning less (rather than having a big mortgage), the best for us right now.

      Because of the walkability of the area and good public transportation, we are considering dropping down to one vehicle later this year. That will save additional money and not change our new lifestyle much.

  3. This is so to the heart of the matter, downsizing isn’t always a choice initially. I love living in a smaller space mostly because there’s less to clean and maintain. The main challenge to me is that I’m very sensitive to noise and sound, but we work with that in good and flexible ways.

  4. Toni

    Thanks so much for the reminder. I was forced to move to a retirement complex after losing my job. The apartment is very small but very cute. At first I was shocked at how little storage is available & at how small the closets are. I thought about getting extra storage containers. But after my first big “declutter”, I now have ample space for clothes and everything else with room to spare! And the bonus is I feel like I can finally take a deep breath and really relax.
    Thank you again!

  5. This isn’t always a choice, but there are so many blessings to be found in downsizing. I just sold my 1000 sqft houseboat. While it was paradise living on the river and being part of an awesome community, it was also an expensive lifestyle and more and more I’m choosing to simplify. Right now I’m in transition before I move back to New Zealand but I’m feeling freer than I’ve felt since my early 20s. I’ve let go of most of what I own – plan to leave here with 2 suitcases and a couple of boxes. A motor home is in my future. Should only Tahoe about 5 minutes to clean that!

  6. We downsized from 1400 to 700 sq. feet and have not missed a thing either.

    I am short and can’t reach the(very)few cabinets in the kitchen, so CJ said, “Hey, that’s what I’m here for” and he means it! Since we are not spending every penny we make, we can afford to work less and exercise more. We’ve never been healthier!

  7. Sue T

    We live in and work from a small camper van for four months of the year with our two dogs. It really makes you pare down what is necessary. Cleaning takes about 10 minutes and so we have time for long walks, relaxing and chats. I realise now how little space I need for living

  8. Beverly D

    Courtney, your blog is so motivational for me. I cannot thank you enough. There is an Irish poem that begins with “Travel light in life. Take only what you need.” I’ve never forgotten that, however, I wish I could find the entire poem because it’s all about what you are living. Thank you for your brilliance!

    • “Travel light in life. Take only what you need: a loving family, good friends, simple pleasures, someone to love, and someone to love you; something to eat, enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink for thirst is a dangerous thing.” ANON. Maybe this is the one you are thinking of. :)

      • Beverly D

        Awww Teresa, I can’t thank you enough! It’s been 30 some odd years since I first read this Irish Proverb, AND NOW YOU’VE MADE IT COMPLETE FOR ME! I’ve printed it so I won’t forget it. Thanks a million!

  9. Glenn Thomas

    Great article Courtney. We’ve considered downsizing from our 2 story house (which actually isn’t really that big), but have found that it would actually be more expensive to move into an appartment. Owning an appartment in Australia also means paying strata fees for the upkeep of the property and ammenities. For most appartments here in Sydney, the average strata fees seem to be around $1500 a quarter, which is over $100 per week. That’s more than all our current bills combined including water, electricity, gas, council rates and internet. And if we were to hire a cleaner to come in every 2 weeks, it would still work out cheaper.

    So I guess there are pros and cons either way. A smaller cheaper house would definitely apply here though.

  10. I have realized over time that I really don’t need 2,000 sq ft to be happy. It’s amazing what we are willing to buy for people to be impressed with our lifestyle. I know I will be able to own a home again, and I think I want to buy what I can afford with less space the next time. The thought of less to clean is also a plus.

  11. We downsized by choice, selling our house to downsize to a smaller apartment. Even though we did it by choice, I think a number of our neighbors assumed it wasn’t a choice. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, and we’re seeing all the benefits you mentioned in this post. I loved the feeling of having a fresh start, and the renting a smaller place really freed up our weekends. Now we go out and do fun stuff on the weekend instead of doing house and yard work.

  12. Stephanie

    This article, as well as the one about “happiness in the transition”, really touched on the heart of the subject for me as my family and I are in the midst of a huge transition…one that does include struggling with moving from our home to downsize, not on space, but on mortgage payments. I am so deeply attached to this home not because of its size, style, or location (ok, well maybe location…we have awesome neighbor friends, live one mile from my amazing Mom & StepDad, and are in a quiet, safe neighborhood), but because I’ve lived in this house longer than in any other and we’ve raised our son, now 11 years old, here. Our home and the beautiful yard we’ve nurtured from dirt just feels like an *extension* of me and who I am! It’s the sentimental attachment I just can’t get past. It’s breaking my heart because I know deep-down that I’ve got to let it go so that we may get back on our “financial feet”. My son is very sentimental, like me, so of course I worry so much about how he will feel leaving the only home he’s known behind…but my husband constantly reminds us that home is anywhere WE are TOGETHER, and I know that is the absolute truth. Thanks for your words in these articles…it always helps to have a fresh, practical perspective and to be reminded that letting go doesn’t always lead to a dead end…but can be a fresh start as well!

  13. Stephanie

    This article, as well as the one about “happiness in the transition”, really touched on the heart of the subject for me as my family and I are in the midst of a huge transition…one that does include struggling with moving from our home to downsize, not on space, but on mortgage payments. I am so deeply attached to this home not because of its size, style, or location (ok, well maybe location…we have awesome neighbor friends, live one mile from my amazing Mom & StepDad, and are in a quiet, safe neighborhood), but because I’ve lived in this house longer than in any other and we’ve raised our son, now 11 years old, here. Our home and the beautiful yard we’ve nurtured from dirt just feels like an *extension* of me and who I am! It’s the sentimental attachment I just can’t get past. It’s breaking my heart because I know deep-down that I’ve got to let it go so that we may get back on our “financial feet”. My son is very sentimental, like me, so of course I worry so much about how he will feel leaving the only home he’s known behind…but my husband constantly reminds us that home is anywhere WE are TOGETHER, and I know that is the absolute truth. Thanks for your words in these articles…it always helps to have a fresh, practical perspective and to be reminded that letting go doesn’t always lead to a dead end…but can be a fresh start as well!

  14. I share a space with four other people, although I have my own room. This 32 year old grad student is NOT sharing a room. That being said, this move meant leaving most of my stuff at my parents’ house, but every time I go home, I clean out more stuff. I am definitely becoming a minimalist as I get older. I’m obsessed with the idea of a tiny house and only having the bare essentials to survive. I don’t want or need a bunch of stuff anymore. Not that I ever did, but the older I get, the more I’m realizing how great it is to downsize.

  15. A few years ago we sold what I thought was my forever home so my husband could go back to school. We went from almost 2700 sq feet to an around 750. It was an adjustment. We got rid of a lot of things, but still ended up with two storage units. We now live in a house owned by my father (next door) that has somewhere between 1200-1500 sq feet. Only one storage now that is 20 bucks a month. But still too much stuff. I keep trying to find creative ways to organize and store so that we don’t feel like we need more space. I like the idea of simple, but I tend to hold on to things for sentimental reasons, or I might need them someday, or, in our current situation, it is possible we may need to have two locations for awhile and so therefore I might need some of the stuff I would get rid of. Life is a puzzle sometimes. I enjoy a smaller house. Only one bath is one of the biggest adjustments. That, and sharing my workspace with my husband. I miss my own space. I loved renting when we were in the apartment because we didn’t have to worry about house and yard upkeep. Since living here, even though my father owns the home (we plan to purchase it eventually), we keep having to fix things and that is a drain on our savings.

  16. Sara Hunter

    I can really relate to this as well. We downsized from our large home in a street which we loved to a much smaller home. Luckily we were able to find another house in the same street on a back section. To be honest it took a couple of years to get over the pangs of driving past the old house to the new, but finally I am feeling settled and happy in our new home. We have a much smaller mortgage, we have been able to travel, which we could not afford to do before. We also know we will be here for our retirement so we are making the house appropriate for our future needs which is great to do while we can afford the upgrades as we are still working. We had to be strict on what we bought to the new home and have been really careful about what we introduce. I am now trying the dress for less challenge as well. So thanks Courtney. You are an inspiration. And its nice to have these changes validated by others.

  17. Your article was a timely reminder of why I will be moving this Thursday!

    My husband and I are 46 and 48. We have two children ages 23, and 20. Both have graduated from college!
    My son is now living his dream in Wyoming and my daughter is on the job hunt, soon to live on her own as well. My story starts with a great house…3200 sq ft. that sits on an acre of totally landscaped land. My family has lived here for 14 years but my husband has lived here for over 30 years. You see we bought his childhood home from his parents when they decided to upsize at the lake. We thought bigger and better, just as we had been trained! Bigger and better landed us over our heads from day 1 in this fabulous house. We have too much space which I try to fill with more stuff just because we have the space. We absolutely despise working in the yard that requires so much $ to upkeep. And now we are faced with student loans to pay back for our children’s education. I can honestly say that we began downsizing a year ago. I had had enough of the stuff and the energy drain that living large had caused. I have had 4 yard sales this year and have reduced my stuff down to half. We started living on a cash budget and was able to save $1000 a month that way! Back in March, my husband and I came across a 1500 sq ft refurbished bungalow and knew the time was right to shuck the big house and live simply. We called a realtor the next day and listed our big fabulous home and prayed that the little house would still be available when our house sold. Twenty six showings and 50 days later we had a contract and the little house was still waiting on us to live there! A chance to have a fresh start and write a new story is so exciting! Our parents do not fully understand. Our contemporaries at work are shocked ( Are you retiring? … no we are not.)! We know that we are being more financially responsible and hope that we are setting a new and different example for our children to follow.

    I enjoy reading everyone’s stories about being more with less!

  18. I have lived in under 500 square feet for 9 years. For the most part, I like a small, cozy home. My kitchen is still pretty large, which pleases me greatly.

    The downsides for me are that I can’t save money by buying in bulk, because I have nowhere to put 24 rolls of paper towels. I do tend to be a little cluttery, because there is nowhere to put things “away.” There is no away. Everything is right there, since I have only one small, oddly shaped closet.

    I would never want to go back to my 2400 sf suburban monstrosity with the swimming pool, though. I always felt wasteful, buying furniture for rooms I never went into.

  19. Ann

    I found this a very interesting blog post….my family just finished 2 years of downsizing financially….we had 2 very big family events that we needed to fund….a wedding and a special mission trip for my younger daughter…..At times I was sad that we made the choice (doing without some convenience items, purchasing no new clothes, a no vacations) but the chance to do both of these events without going in to debt was a big motivator….I agree that it’s all with the attitude~we have decided to continue on with our new lifestyle…

  20. What do I do with my new found free time? Nothing! That’s right, nothing. I now live like a tourist. In a small space, with only what a need, disposable income readily available and adventure in my heart. Yet I still mostly choose to do nothing with my new found free time. LOL

    • Kathy Mader

      I know what you mean. Every year we stay a week or two in a mountain cabin…the owners have furnished the place very cutely, but basically the bare essentials. It’s fabulous and so peaceful and relaxing. I always want to go home and make my house feel the same way…like I am on vacation and the mechanics of living have been vastly simplified.

  21. Elizabeth Hagler

    Since my husband and I got married two years ago, we’ve downsized three times. We were blessed enough to inherit all of our furniture and belongings. The moves we’ve made necessitated that we purge a good portion of what was given to us. As I look back on how much we had two or even three years ago, I am in awe – shocked that we had so much to begin with and amazed by how little of it we actually needed. Your post is spot-on. We’ve saved immensely by not “living large”. Keep spreading the good word!

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