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Is It Time to Downsize? Or Stay Put?

Next Tribe when to downsize


NextTribers are probably used to hearing friends talk about moving to the shore, to the mountains, to that cute college town, to the city, or to foreign soil. Retirement dreams come in all shapes and sizes, but they usually involve a fantasy of making a fresh (often minimalist) start – and cashing in on our home’s value, which is often a significant portion of our portfolios.

There’s no easy decision about whether and when to move. But if you’re contemplating a big life change, hold on a sec. It’s not all about the dream of living in a new place, decorating a new pad, and finding your favorite stop for a soy latte.

Consider these often-overlooked concerns that can tip the financial balance in favor of staying put.

  1. Maintenance and repairs. No one wants to buy into those “to-do’s” you haven’t done. Renovations and repairs are costly but you need to get them taken care of before putting up a “For Sale” sign.
  2. Moving and Storage. If moving into a smaller space, you’ll need to unload or stash a lot of items. Can you part with your vinyl collection or Aunt Fannie’s horse-hair sofa? No? The fees for boxing, shipping and then paying for a monthly storage unit might be bigger than you expect.
  3. Cost of living in a new location. Maybe you mortgage is lower, but higher taxes, HOA fees, and pricier groceries add up. Calculate whether a smaller home might really wind up costing you more.

A smart policy is to downsize if you’re ready for a change and your real-estate market is strong; invest the profits and generate future income. But if you’re happy where you are, of if you’ve found that the costs of living elsewhere may wind up higher than you expect, then maybe you’re already in a Goldilockian “just right” scenario.

–Wila Phillips

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