5 Things to Consider Before Downsizing Your House

There are many reasons to downsize your home. Perhaps the kids are grown-up and you just don’t need a three bedroom home anymore. Maybe the yard that used to seem like your oasis has turned into a constant chore of upkeep and care.

Whatever your reason is, there are a few aspects to downsizing your house that you should start thinking about now, to help inform your search for a smaller, more manageable home.

Apartments and condos are the most popular choice for homeowners moving out of a large family house. Shared outdoor space is cared for by a property management company, and in many cases, amenities in the apartment or condo building alleviate the need for a multi-room home.

If you’re considering moving from a multi-room house to an apartment or condo, consider these five factors of the downsizing process.

1. Space for Pets

Pets can be particularly susceptible to the stress of a move, especially to a place that is drastically different from their former home. Finding a new home that is pet-friendly is the first step to alleviate stress – on you and your pet.

Often, apartment buildings and condos have strict rules on pet ownership, and make it a hassle to move in with your furry friend. Part of what makes Farrell Properties different is our pet-friendliness. We encourage residents to have pets, and even provide convenient pet-centric amenities, like our on-site “pocket parks”, so you can socialize your dog with the neighbors in your building.

Sharing a building or a wall with a neighbor might be confusing for your pet at first, but they will settle into life in a shared building. In the end, the intriguing noises of neighbors in the hall could entertain your pet during the day. Living in a smaller space with pets might seem like a big change, but in the end, remember that your pet just wants to be near you.

Downsizing from a house will be a big transition for any pet. Make sure you have easy access to the outdoors for dogs, which will make it an easier transition for both of you. For cats, having wide windows and places to perch will go a long way to keeping them content in a smaller space.

2. What Stays and What Goes

Making the decision to downsize is half the battle – the next step in the process is figuring out what to keep in your smaller space.

Start with your furniture. Based on the layout of the apartment or condo you’re looking at, prioritize the furniture that will fit. Find the dimensions of the floorplan and measure your sofa, kitchen table, and bedroom furniture first. If it won’t easily fit, save yourself the struggle on moving day and start shopping for smaller, similar pieces now.

Downsizing is also an opportunity to change things up. If you’re bored with cookie-cutter architecture, look for a renovated building for your new home. A well-designed renovation will have more personality, with some quirky nooks or tall windows for you to decorate to make it feel like home.

Consider multi-tasking furniture, which can transform a room to increase the function when you need it. Items like a drop-leaf kitchen table, or pull-out couch can come in handy when company comes over, but doesn’t take up space during your everyday routine. For one-bedroom apartments or condos, transformational furniture designed for smaller residences can add style and practicality to your living space.

For all of your other belongings, keep the important things. Important paperwork, family heirlooms, and photographs should be kept, and might even find new prominence in your new home.

When going through your possessions and determining what stays and what goes, definitely keep the one or two things that make you happy. Maybe it’s a funky vase from a trip, or a medal from a race run years ago. Find a way to display these important collections or pieces in your new home and enjoy them everyday.

3. Streamline Your Home Activities

Moving to a smaller home means thinking about everything you currently store in an attic, garage, or basement.

Do you have workout equipment like a treadmill or spinning bike that you rarely use? Apartments and condos may have shared fitness centers for you to enjoy, without adding a cardio machine to your unit. Consider properties with amenities that align with your current lifestyle.

If you like having your bike or paddleboard nearby for summer use, look for a new residence with some included storage space. Having a dedicated storage space beyond the closets in an apartment can alleviate a lot of space issues.

Of course, if you have a paddleboard but you rarely use it, now is the perfect time to prioritize your everyday activities. Sell the paddleboard and you’ll have a few extra bucks for moving, and more space to store other, more useful items.

A smaller home can also bring change to your social schedule.

If you like to host small parties and gatherings, take your social circle into account when looking for new places to live. An open kitchen-dining-living layout is better for hosting those occasional gatherings.

You don’t have to sacrifice having your friends over for barbecues when you move into a shared building. In fact, Farrell properties each have a patio or grill area with such social events intended. Check with your leasing or real estate agent when looking at new spaces, and ask about what opportunities or shared spaces are included.

4. Stress Less About Maintenance

Being a homeowner comes with a lot of upkeep and responsibility. Living in an apartment, condo, or neighborhood can take a lot of those concerns off your plate.

During the winter, plowing and snow removal are taken care of by your property management company. During the summer, you won’t have to power up the lawn mower once a week, as the landscaping and grounds have a dedicated team to keep the green space looking beautiful for you.

As a resident in a shared building, you can forget about fighting with the plumber to come over and fix a break. Repairs and replacement parts are now on your super or property manager to schedule, and fix for you within a reasonable timeline that is communicated to you before you sign anything.

At Farrell, we also believe that you shouldn’t worry about heating costs in the winter, which is why we include heat in the monthly rent. Be sure to ask about what is included in the rent or association costs when you schedule a tour of an apartment or condo.

5. Anticipate Change

You’ve had to deal with neighbors before, and in a shared building you are – quite literally – in closer quarters than in your own house.

Sharing a building with other residents can open up new social opportunities. Be friendly and open to new friendships when you move, and you might find a book club or walking group to help acclimate to the new neighborhood.

Is your new building more central than your house used to be? With more residents, apartment or condo buildings might offer additional transportation options, adding the option of being car-free. If decreasing your monthly costs or carbon footprint are important to you, look for an apartment located close to staples, like the grocery store and a pharmacy, to help cut down on your reliance on your car. Being in Vermont, having a car is sometimes necessary, but opportunities like CarShare give you the option of a car when you need it.

While quality construction in shared residences does account for sound insulation between units, life does tend to happen. If you find yourself especially sensitive to the habits of neighbors, invest in a sound machine to help make your home feel like your sanctuary. Look for a top-floor corner unit, which shares fewer walls than a middle unit, to eliminate as much noise from neighbors as much as possible.

Do Your Downsizing Homework

In short, there are quite a few considerations to make when you consider downsizing from your house to a smaller living space. From selecting furniture that will serve you in a smaller home, to streamlining your activities to align with your everyday pursuits, there are quite a few steps to downsizing from a family house to a smaller apartment or condominium.

Downsizing can also be a liberating process. Taking the time to declutter your life and relocate to a new space can have wonderful benefits for your chi. In your new space, there will be less mess, less to worry about, and you’ll be surrounded with the belongings you treasure and value most.

It can seem like a long process to downsize your home, but in the end, finding the perfect new place to live will make the process easier. Take the time now to discover the apartment or condo that best aligns with your lifestyle, and then begin the steps to downsize for your new home.

Published: Mar 22, 2018. Updated February 28th, 2019