If you are considering downsizing, this blog is intended to help you weigh some pros and cons before you make such a big decision.
As the “Downsizing Designer,” I’m frequently asked if there are downsides to downsizing. The short answer is downsizing may or may not be right for you. It all depends. The truth is that there are far more plusses than minuses if you want to live a simpler and easier life with less.
But the choice depends on you.
Many of you might already know from my book, Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle, and from my TED Talk, Why Less is More, that I downsized from my 5,000-square-foot home to an 867-square-foot apartment in center city Philadelphia. When I downsized, I chose to give away 95% of my possessions to those who needed it or wanted it, and frankly, I’ve never looked back, and I’ve never been happier.
But downsizing is not for everyone and if you are thinking about it, it’s important to weigh the pros and the cons.
Here Are A Few of the Cons of Downsizing
1. Downsizing is an emotional journey.
As a matter of fact, that is one of the main reasons many people decide to stay in their homes and age in place.
They might be reluctant to face the emotions of saying goodbye to the home they raised their kids in, the neighbors, and the community.
But they might also be hesitant to let go of their physical possessions, those things they’ve become attached to, and can’t imagine living without.
And many are afraid to let go of the sentimental items, fearing that letting go of them means losing the memories that they associate with them. On one hand, you might want to downsize and live a less complicated, less cluttered life, but the emotional aspect of downsizing might stop you… Certainly, something you would need to face if you choose to downsize.
But on the other hand, you visualize a new lifestyle where you have more freedom, more flexibility, more mobility… And yes, likely, less responsibility because once you’re an empty nester, there’s an opportunity for you to create a whole new life.
2. Downsizing takes time.
It doesn’t happen overnight. It can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months depending on how much stuff you have and how dedicated you are to the process.
Many people get excited at the beginning but get overwhelmed by the size of the project so they get discouraged and then give up.
The reality of downsizing is that you need a plan that will help you keep yourself, focused and on track. Without a plan, you might make excuses, procrastinate, and never finish what you’ve started.
3. Downsizing requires many decisions.
One of the most talked about problems of downsizing and decluttering process is decision fatigue.
There are many many many decisions to make if you are wanting to live with less.
- What furniture to bring?
- What furniture fits and doesn’t fit?
Day after day, week after week, making so many decisions can wear you down. Having an understanding of why you want to downsize certainly helps because it keeps the vision alive for life after downsizing. This will help you keep going even when you feel like quitting.
4. When you downsize you will have less space… and hopefully, less stuff.
Less space means less room for stuff. If you have difficulty parting with your stuff, you could have a problem.
Certainly, holding on is far easier than letting go, so if you decide to downsize, you need to develop a strong “letting go muscle” and “letting go mindset.”
Over time, the “letting go muscle” gets stronger because you learn to make quicker more deliberate decisions.
Again, remind yourself of what life after decluttering looks like. Keep that image firmly in your mind to help you stay motivated.
A word of caution: be clear about the size of the smaller home, apartment, or condo that you would like to move into. Even if you may not have the exact property, it’s easy enough to guesstimate how much stuff to bring. For example, if you are moving from a four-bedroom home to a two-bedroom apartment, you will obviously not need four beds.
People often make the mistake of bringing too much stuff, forcing them to double downsize, which can be frustrating, overwhelming, and expensive.
Also, note that you will likely have less storage space in your new smaller home so you will need to declutter first.
5. Downsizing can be expensive.
Moving entails numerous layers of expense, both visible and invisible that can impact whether you choose to downsize or stay where you are.
Consider labor and materials to help you pack, labor and manpower to help you move, realtors, closing costs of both the new and old properties, taxes, homeowner association fees and other miscellaneous expenses.
While there are many upsides to downsizing, there are also some downsides. It’s important to weigh both so that you can discern the right decision for you.
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