Why you should consider downsizing
Let’s face it, the more space you have around your home, the more space you tend to fill up. And that can cost you in many ways…
Luckily, we don’t have that problem any longer.
We downsized this past summer, and we’re very happy we did.
We’ll be inching closer to financial independence because of it.
Our former home.
We “did the math” long before we moved – you can check out my survival guide on moving here – and now that we’re a few months into our new condo, I have some benefits to share when it comes to downsizing based on my reflections of this experience.
Let me know your thoughts in a comment below!
- Lower utility bills.
Unless your current home is super energy efficient right now, it just makes sense that a smaller home (or condo) would cost a lot less to heat or cool.
In our case, I’m projecting we’re going to save at least $100 per month in heating and cooling costs alone in our condo instead of utilities used in our former three-bedroom bungalow. We feel good about this not only because it helps our bank account, but it also helps our environment. Moving on to experience #2…
- Reducing our environmental footprint.
Why on earth would two adults (with two cats) need a three-bedroom home? Do we need two TVs? What about that second (although nice!) sectional couch in the finished basement we used just a few times per year?
We don’t. No. Of course not.
In moving from our bungalow this summer to our 1,200 sq. ft. condo in our city, less square footage has translated into owning less stuff, less energy expended to maintain our place, and therefore less overall waste. With minimal places to put our belongings, we less supplies purchased to maintain our home, we’ve reduced our footprint. There is simply no room for materials that will not be used frequently. In the process of downsizing, we’ve either sold and/or donated many gently used items. I can count at least two full carloads of clothing or gently used good that went to The Ottawa Mission alone. Donating goods has also made us feel good in that we are re-purposing items to those in need. There are so many people in need…
- More time.
Less space to clean, less house to maintain, less to manage overall has resulted in increased free time. This time has been utilized to walk to groceries, events or simply get out and exercise. Yes, the last few months have been busy in setting up the condo/getting organized including trades coming in and many some necessary adjustments, but over time I know we’ll get more value-added time back in our lives. This will be a huge positive related to item benefit #4.
- Improved wellness.
In our condo, we’re now 3 km to work. We’re a 10-minute walk to groceries. We can shop at dozens of stores with ease. I have access to great biking paths along our world-famous Rideau Canal.
There are hundreds of restaurants within a 30-minute walk. If I need to get across our city, our have new light-rail transit system only a few minutes walk down the road. These are just some of the benefits and accessibility we’ve gained.
With a smaller home footprint, we have less responsibilities associated with our property. This has translated into less things to worry about and for me personally, less stress. We’re no longer overwhelmed with the prospects of snow removal or seasonal yardwork or funding major capital expenses like roof or deck repairs.
I believe wellness is often an overlooked key ingredient in any journey towards financial independence – wellness that I’m taking more seriously now.
- Cashflow diverted to cover other expenses.
With one parking spot associated with our condo unit, coupled with our ability to walk to pretty much anything, there is no longer a need for two cars. We sold one of our cars to a family member this summer (thanks again!) so now we’re a one-vehicle household.
Accessibility to amenities has reduced our gas consumption. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve put gas in our car in the last three months. Winter might change that a bit, but for now, I love the fact I don’t have to drive anywhere unless the weather dictates it.
Reducing our household to one car has saved us about $300 per month, on average. That money can now be diverted into maintenance costs/condo fees for our building – which include insurance.
While downsizing sounds great…
Downsizing also came with some drawbacks. We miss some friends and great neighbours in our former area (but we hope to connect with them this fall). There is no longer a spare room for guests (something we’ll need to manage with the odd overnight guest at some point). Trading-down was initially stressful, there was a LOT of change and that was challenging to navigate through as a couple (or at least it was for me…).
Yet given where we are in our financial plan, in that our ability to “live off dividends” is getting very close in the coming years, we felt this was the right decision at the right time. Although our smaller home in the city has cost us more money initially (to buy, to move, to get established) we believe it will open up more options for us, with work and with play in the years to come.
View from our condo terrace.
Is downsizing right for you?
Downsizing can open up a new chapter for you too. Whether you are an empty-nester, single, a couple with no kids or you’re simply aspiring to start fresh – downsizing can offer a host of environmental, physical, mental and financial benefits.
The reality is, you really don’t need as much space or stuff as you might think you do.
Have you considered downsizing? Will you pursue this eventually? What is the square footage of your home and/or do you own a McMansion in the suburbs? Share and comment away.