Downsizing Our Home: Pros and Cons

You may remember the hubby and I have the house for sale. If you don’t, feel free to click on the Prepping Your House for Sale image on the sidebar and you’ll be able to read all about it. :-)

Thinking about downsizing your home? Here are some things to consider.One thing I didn’t talk about in those posts is WHY we want to sell the house. So that is what we’re going to converse about today.

In a word: downsizing. Sometimes this is a bad word, like when a company downsizes and half their employees must go look for work elsewhere. Other times people are forced to downsize their standard of living due to financial difficulties. We may or may not fall slightly into that last category…

Major difficulties haven’t hit yet, but that could change pretty quickly. Nothing is guaranteed these days, you know? And with two three (wow, that is hard to think about) children at college this fall, there is no reason for us to pay a 5-bedroom mortgage anymore. We’d rather be helping our kids financially than clinging to our standard of living.

We’ve thought about the whole dream of retaining the homeplace here for our kids to bring the future grandkids to, and that’s a really nice idea. But for us it is impractical. We are not at the stage where a lot of almost empty-nesters are, of having their home paid off and their retirement account funded and their stocks growing. Unfortunately, and to be rather transparent, we have made poor money management decisions and are reaping the consequences.  We are in debt and living paycheck-to-paycheck. Hanging onto the house in hopes of future Thanksgivings and Christmases here is like buying a lottery ticket when you don’t have enough to buy food. Let’s not mortgage the present in hopes of future glory, ok?

So let’s talk downsizing for a moment.  After we sell this house, we plan to find a much smaller 3- or 4-bedroom rental.  We are aiming for cash flow, y’all.  There are plusses and minuses about renting, too, and maybe I’ll cover those in another post.  But suffice it to say our next home will be a significant size change for us.  I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of downsizing, and I’ve come up with this list:

Pros of Downsizing:

1) Less house to keep clean, less lawn to mow — Since I hate to clean, this is a huge plus.  And since the hubby must travel for work a lot, the lawn is maintenance that I am often responsible for, as well.  Of course I delegate it to the son, but 2 acres of lawn to mow IS a big job.  On a side note, by renting we will be decreasing our maintenance load by quite a bit.  I like that idea.  Things always break when The Man is away; it’ll be nice to be able to call a landlord and pass the worry onto them!

2) More family connectedness, as we all have less space to hide away in — Right now we live in so much space that all seven of us could find our own place to be and not communicate with the other for quite some time.  We have two living areas and two eating areas, The Man has his own study, almost everyone has their own bedroom — so yea.  I’m assuming, for the price we want to pay, that our future rental will have only one living area and one eating area, not to mention fewer bedrooms and no office.  We’ll be forced to spend time together and learn how to get along.  Yes, it may be a challenge, but I see it as a good thing.

3) More cash flow – A smaller house means you don’t need as much energy to keep it going; so not only will the monthly house payment/rent be decreased, the utility bills will be less, as well. This adds up to more cash in our pockets to pay down debt or help the college kids buy textbooks.

4) Fewer possessions – Everything we own now just won’t fit in a smaller house. This is a good thing; we will have to declutter our things even more and thereby simplify our lives.  We will keep the quality items and not be such slaves to quantity.  This will reduce stress and make things even easier to keep clean.

5) Forces you to be more efficient — Living in a smaller home means you have to stay on top of picking up.  You need to develop processes in the kitchen so that cooking does not become frustrating.  Storage, too, can become problematic if you are not inventive. It might be time to re-read Cheaper By The Dozen for motivation towards efficiency!

6) More environmentally friendly – Again, a smaller home means less energy use.  I’m not a huge environmentalist, but I agree with cutting back where I can.  The tiny house movement is very intriguing for this reason; but I don’t think I’m ready to downsize THAT much at this point! :-)

Cons of Downsizing:

1) Not as much room for guests — It will be tricky just to fit the college girls in when they come home for breaks! And entertaining becomes more of a challenge, as well.

2) More family conflict as we all have less space to get alone in — Haha, this is the other side of the coin from #2 of the Pros list!  But in all honesty and being very real, this may very well happen.  It definitely something to be prepared for; we’re gonna need a lot of patience with one another…

3) Not keeping up with the Joneses – As in, our smaller house will not be commensurate with where we are in life nor with those of many of our friends.  Sometimes this can be a blow to one’s pride.  But can we be real about this? At my age I’ve given up trying to keep up with anyone. It’s a wasted effort that shows shallowness of mind.  I want to be happy with what God has provided.  I think that will bring greater satisfaction over the long haul.  (Related to this, however, is having to give up my ideas for my dream home — this might actually be a struggle for me sometimes; I admit it…)

4) Not as many nice things – Along with having fewer possessions comes the fact that we may not have enough room to even keep all of the good stuff.  This might get difficult as I have to give up things I love.  My new living room furniture?  Might have to go. :-(

5) Looks messy easily — And when you homeschool, this is even more true, because people are in the home ALL THE TIME.  And where will we put the litter box so we don’t smell it?

6) More noise — Right now our house stays fairly quiet because it’s big enough to absorb noise.  If someone wants to watch a movie and someone else doesn’t, the non-viewer can get far enough away to not even hear it.  This might not be true in a smaller house.  Voices will probably carry, and music, and phone calls, and video games…

These pros and cons are all things we have considered carefully in our decision about downsizing, but I have to admit that cash flow trumps all.  When you are making changes in order to get on top of your finances, sometimes you gotta get a little radical.

As an update on the house sale, we are still waiting for a buyer.  We are VERY rural, with a large house on 8 1/2 acres.  This will take a very special type of buyer.  So we were/are expecting it to take awhile and have not lost hope yet.  In the meantime, I get to live in a clean, decluttered, well-staged home.  That’s not such a bad thing. :-)

What do you like about living in a small house?

Shared on Frugal Fridays :-)

4 thoughts on “Downsizing Our Home: Pros and Cons”

  1. I agree with a lot of this, our youngest just graduated….but for where we live now, if we downsized, we would still have the same size mortgage, houses have gone up significantly in the past three years. I do love having a large house for ministry, small group (24 people) every other week, missionaries staying with us, etc. etc. We even had a long term house guest last year (a single gal going through a really tough time)…….so it is a toss up but for now, we are staying put!

    I love your blog, Ann!

    1. Thanks, Deb, for being a loyal reader and for your constant encouragement! :-) I wish we could use our house more for ministry, but being so far out in the boonies kinda curtails that. That is one thing we didn’t foresee when we purchased it…

  2. Love your article as we are considering downsizing! I love this statement you make…”We’ve thought about the whole dream of retaining the homeplace here for our kids to bring the future grandkids to, and that’s a really nice idea. But for us it is impractical.” I believe a house is 4 walls with a roof and when you mix in God, our loving relationship with our kids and some family traditions that makes it a home no matter where that is. I am a stay-home mom with 4 children, 2 boys currently in college, twin girls, freshman in high school and my husband owns his own business, “nothing is guaranteed” as you would say! So…this is the reality of life and I love how you address it straight on! I needed to hear all your Pro’s and Con’s of downsizing! Thanks for this piece -KAREN

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Karen! I’m glad I could help! We actually were never able to sell our house, so we are not downsizing yet, after all… Part of me is glad to stay in our home, but part of me is definitely wishing for a smaller space to maintain — and pay for, lol!

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