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Some helpful tips to keep in mind if you're downsizing

From lifestyle to neighbourhood changes, there are plenty of things to keep in mind if you're on the move

I regularly work with people downsizing, going from a 3,000-square-foot house to 1,000-sq.-ft. condo. 

Here are some things you should consider if you are thinking of moving from a house into a condominium.

Do you need all that space? 

Many people decide to stay in their house so they can accommodate overnight guests a few times a year. Did you know that many condos have guest suits that you can rent out for a small fee? Here you get the best of both worlds, you don’t need to pay for and maintain a large home but you can still have your guests visit and be comfortable.

If you’re one to host Thanksgiving and Christmas, rent out the party room and building lounge for the evening. You can still do the entertaining and have more than enough room for the grandkids to run about.

Two sides to maintenance

Many people have a hard time wrapping their head around condo fees, but the truth is there are monthly fees no matter where you live; they’re just hidden. Cleaning gutters, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn and gardening, to name some, are ongoing chores. What is your time worth? And if you’re already hiring these out, wouldn’t it be easier to not have to worry about them at all? 

Don’t forget about the big ticket items like, fixing a roof, leaky basement, having to upgrade the furnace or A/C and utility costs; heat, electricity, water and garbage removal, all cost money.

Did you know that all buildings include water and many include heat and electricity? Not to mention that property taxes will also be less. All these costs add up fast, why not live in a condo where your fees are more predictable and you have less to worry about.  
Neighbourhood change

One of the most exciting, and overwhelming, parts about downsizing is moving into a new neighbourhood and getting new neighbours.

Change isn’t easy for anyone but one of the best things about the condo lifestyle is that each building is its own community.

Designers work very hard during the planning process to make sure that each building has its own feel, its own Feng Shui.

The building amenities provide the residents with a sense of community which brings everyone together. Fitness/swimming classes to movie and cards nights to afternoon tea, each building will offer their residents a good variety of activities. And the best thing is you don’t need to travel very far!

Many of Barrie’s condos are built close to downtown, the waterfront and shopping. Rather than driving to walk around the waterfront path, grab a coffee or dine out, you can walk! It is quite the luxury to have most things at your fingertips.

The biggest adjustment to downsizing will be your lifestyle. You will likely be giving up backyard barbecues, but don’t forget that some condos allow barbecues on the balconies and many have community terraces for barbecuing.

If you fly south for the winters, you will love simply turning a key and walking out the door. The heated underground parking will be a life changer too. Think of all the time that you will gain by not having to do any maintenance and the money you will be saving by living a more simple life.  
What else could you spend the money on? 

The money that you save from not having to maintain and upkeep a house could go elsewhere. It’s no secret that most Canadians are relying on their home to fund part of their retirement. If you sold your $600,000 house and moved to a $400,000 condo, what opportunities and doors would that open for you?
Downsizing advice 

Stairs! If you’re downsizing for the long-term, avoid townhouses with lots of stairs. Your knees will thank you.

When in doubt, throw it out. One of the easiest ways to be comfortable in your smaller space is by getting rid of all of that stuff you’ve been living with and not using; old magazines, electronics, broken furniture or books you never look at.

You’ll also enjoy your new space more if you pare down the number of knick-knacks, framed photos and trinkets.

Donate, donate, donate. If you aren’t using something, chances are that someone else will both appreciate and use it. One person's trash is another's treasure!

Use the good china everyday. Your new smaller home likely won’t have room for two sets of dishes and glasses. And really who are we kidding…don’t you deserve to use the good dishes?

Memories are just that – memories. While it’s nice to have family heirlooms and keepsakes, you probably don’t need every greeting card, concert ticket stub, childhood doll or long time collection. Make a point of moving just the important stuff with you. 

Paperwork – you may need to access up to seven years of tax history, so make sure important legal and tax documents can be easily retrieved. That doesn’t need to mean they take up prized space in your new home though – that’s what storage lockers are for

Storage – A well-organized storage locker can be a godsend when downsizing – but don’t spend hundreds of dollars a month to store things you’ll never need again. If you do rent storage, make sure it’s climate-controlled, water-proofed and that your belongings are safe.


Ashley Lamb

About the Author: Ashley Lamb

Ashley Lamb is a local condo expert who writes a monthly column about statistics and trends in the Barrie real estate market
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