Taking a Step Down - Or Is It?

Is Bigger Really Better?

Considering the intense fluctuations and scary things that have happened in the housing market in the US over the past couple of years, it is certainly no surprise that people are seriously considering downsizing as a way to live through the crisis. But, crisis isn't the only reason people decide to downsize. Sometimes it is the simple thought that smaller might really be better. How novel.

Of course, that notion flies in the face of the "bigger is better" philosophy of America over the past few decades. Supersize those fries (never mind the billion calories you're inhaling), buy a big screen TV, get an SUV and for sure, bring home a bigger paycheck - everything points to bigger is better and more is definitely better than bigger.

The Advantages of Downsizing

There are certainly advantages to downsizing. First of all, your mortgage payments shrink and you'll be more likely to have a little change left over at the end of the month to spend on something other than a house repair. If you've been in your big house for a long enough time, you may even be able to buy your new little house for cash and have a lot of money left over to do anything you want.

Time is another bonus - think of all those hours of fixing, cleaning, maintenance and yard work that can be saved if you move into a smaller unit. Your utility bills will drop significantly because you're not paying to heat rooms you don't use and besides, reducing energy output is good for the environment. Believe it or not, you'll probably spend a lot less money on other things as a result of moving into something smaller. If you don't have a place to store it, you probably won't buy it.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of the benefits to moving into a smaller space - like smaller workload, increased cash flow and greater flexibility that leads to a reduction of stress. You may actually be happier than you've ever been before by moving into a smaller house. Who would have thought?

And Then, There's the Other Side

However, like all things in life, there is a flip side. Let's talk about the negatives of downsizing (although we'd rather not). You'll have to part with some things that you've been schlepping around for who knows how long. Books, furniture, a spare closet filled with clothing you haven't worn in a decade, kitchen supplies, furniture from the spare room that you haven't used since forever, and the garage. Oh, the garage! You'll find some things you don't even believe you can part with because of the emotional attachment. It can be brutal.

Not Enough Space

If you downsize you may not have any room for unexpected (or expected) guests. Out-of-towners may have to sleep in the nearby hotel or motel and the big family Thanksgiving dinner may be a thing of the past. Of course, that could be a good thing.

Sometimes moving out of a place that has room to spare puts you right into the lap of someone you would rather not be sitting with. You may not have as much personal space as you'd become accustomed to, no private corners or quiet time because there's less space to escape to.

What Will "They" Say?

This one is a hard one for folks who need to feel important. If you've placed a great deal of importance on appearance, than moving into a smaller house may crush your perceived image. A big house can make it seem as though a person is at a certain level of financial success and moving from that to a smaller home can change the image significantly.

Of course, the biggest thing to consider is the lifestyle change that is inherent in a move to a smaller home. Trading down means a change in lifestyle and some people really struggle with that concept. Sometimes it is just easier and more comfortable to stay with what you know than to step off into the unknown.

One thing is for certain, if you decide to downsize, you need to take a lot of things into consideration before making a final decision. You don't want to have any regrets.