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5 Realities of Downsizing and How to Tackle Them Head On

Here’s how you can make a big lifestyle change not only manageable, but enjoyable, too.

For most homeowners, making the decision to downsize is rarely an easy one. Lately, it’s been difficult to get a clear read on the Canadian housing market, especially when the situation varies so wildly from province to province, and even city to city. Falling oil prices have stunted buyer confidence in Southern and Northern Alberta, for example, and home sales decreased by 25 percent last year in British Columbia.

But despite an unpredictable market, there are a few things homeowners can consider to make downsizing less of a headache. Here are five realities of downsizing and suggestions for how to tackle them head-on.

1. Less Green Space

Yes, losing your backyard means saying goodbye to private barbecues and long afternoons spent in the garden. But it also means saying goodbye to mowing the lawn, shovelling show and spending good summer weekends weeding the flowerbeds. Arguably, one of the biggest perks of living in a shared building is having all that work done for you. Moving into a condo or townhome may also mean that you’re moving into a denser or more urban area—so you’ll have better access to parks and community gardens, all without needing to hop in your car.

2. Smaller Quarters for Entertaining

All is not lost when you move out of a place with a big kitchen or ample living room entertainment space—it’s just key to find a home that will still suit your needs. Keep an eye out for buildings with shared outdoor seating areas and rentable event rooms. These amenities often have more than enough space to still fulfill your entertaining needs. Plus, they’re pre-furnished and regularly cleaned, meaning no frantic end-of-the-night scrubbing of countertops and vacuuming of carpets.

3. Reduced Storage Space

One of the most difficult things about moving into a smaller place is letting go of some of the things that made your home feel, well, homey. But you have options. Resist the urge to shove extra things in boxes (which, let’s face it, you’re never going to unpack). Embrace a minimalist approach to tidying and only keep things that you want to take into the next stage of your life.

This is easier said than done, of course, so feel free to keep a few things you’re undecided on in a storage locker or with someone you trust. Once you’re done moving and are settled in, it’ll be easier to figure out what can stay and what can be donated or sold. If you’re moving into a multi-unit building like a condo, it’s likely your new place will offer storage space for residents, to. Ask if this is included with your unit or if you need to register in advance.

4. Selling Your Current Home

Being in the dark about what your home is worth can make downsizing even more stressful. Check out use RE/MAX’s Home Estimate Tool (the only tool of its kind in Canada) to get an accurate glimpse of your home’s current value. The estimator gives accurate and up-to-date estimates in seconds for properties that aren’t currently listed. It generates these estimates based on historical price trends, recently sold comparable homes and tax assessments in the same area. You can even view your neighbourhood value range. It’s worth noting that this tool doesn’t serve as an official appraisal of a home, however, and cannot be used to obtain a loan. To have your home legally appraised, contact a RE/MAX agent.

5. Finding a New Home

A brand-new home: it’s an exciting thing to think about! But you don’t want to find yourself over-paying for a smaller property than your current one, especially if it’s in a high-demand neighbourhood. Therefore, it’s important to check the average property value of your dream location before getting too deep into your new home search. Here’s where the Home Estimate Tool comes in handy again. You can determine the average cost of a home in the area you’re interested in moving to and make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Downsizing can certainly be daunting, especially with a topsy-turvy market like Canada’s. If you aren’t sure where to begin your journey, check out RE/MAX’s Home Estimate Tool to kickstart the process. With data on your side, it’s very likely the benefits of a more manageable space and lighter mortgage will make downsizing well worth it.

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