Is Downsizing the Right Move for You?

Author: Tracy Phelan, Broker RE/MAX Garden City Realty Inc. Brokerage | | Categories: #EmptyNest , #RealEstate , #Retirement , #SellersMarket , #Seniors , #Snowbirds , #TooMuchHouse

Blog by Tracy Phelan Broker RE/MAX Garden City Realty Inc. Brokerage

Have you recently retired? Have your kids moved away from home? If so, you’ve likely considered downsizing your home.

Being able to use the additional funds to improve your lifestyle and financial situation, downsizing is an option you might consider, but it isn’t for everyone.

What Is Downsizing?

To put it simply, downsizing is the process of selling your current larger home and opting to purchase something smaller like a townhome, condo or bungalow. Letting go of the extra square footage, inside and out, that becomes unnecessary and difficult to manage as you age, or your living situation changes.

Benefits Of Downsizing Your Home

There are lots of benefits to downsizing your home but typically, they fall into two categories: practical and financial. In Canada, some of the most common reasons for downsizing are as follows:

1. To pay off a mortgage or other debt

2. To reduce monthly bills (hydro, heat and municipal taxes)

3. To be closer to family or loved ones

4. To reduce the amount and strain of housework, yard work and maintenance

5. To free up extra money for retirement adventures and travel

6. To provide peace of mind for snowbirds who don’t live in their home year-round


How to Get Started:


Decluttering and parting with possessions can be the most difficult part of the process. Most of us have managed to accumulate a lot of things (way more than you ever imaged you could). This is a great opportunity to sort through and look at these things objectively. This can cause a lot of extra strain on the whole family as parting with possessions after 30 – 40 years can be difficult. Giving them to grown children is a great way to keep them in the family.


Even though the housing market in Canada is currently booming, it’s likely that the house will need a bit of TLC before being put on the market. This could mean a fresh coat of paint on the walls or exterior, replacing some older light fixtures or something bigger like a kitchen renovation or new AC unit. Some homeowners might opt to have their home staged as once they’ve purged their older possessions; they may not have as many things to make the home look cozy and lived-in. Any costs associated with fixing up or staging the home should not be overlooked as they can add up fast so being prepared to budget for them is integral.


The whole process of selling your current home, buying a new one and then getting everything moved over can be a lot to manage. You’ll encounter many costs as you move through this process including total insurance, legal fees, Realtor® commission, land transfer taxes, moving expenses, the cost of new furniture to fit in a smaller home and even condo or housing fees depending on which type of home you buy.


Determining If Downsizing Is Right For You

Where you live, your family dynamic and the kind of lifestyle you want for yourself can all be key factors in determining if downsizing is right for you. Ask yourself the following questions to help you get a better idea of whether it’s a good fit:

1. Do you have a substantial amount of equity tied up in your home?

2. Do you want to buy a vacation property in your winter destination of choice?

3. Do you currently need or use all the space in your home?

4. Could you use some of the money to fund your snowbird lifestyle or daily expenses?

5. Are you very tied to your current neighbourhood? Downsizing could mean relocating elsewhere.

6. Would you consider yourself or your spouse a packrat/avid collector? Downsizing will mean a lot of purging and organizing.

7. Do you still have any dependents living at home?


Downsizing Options

If you’re considering downsizing, it’s important to understand that there’s more than one way to downsize and each will have its pros and cons. Learn more about your options so you can determine which one may be best suited for your personality, needs and lifestyle.


If you’re not rooted to your neighbourhood or city and are open to the option to look for housing elsewhere, you could save a lot of money by relocating to a location with a lower cost of living. Whether that’s across town or across the province, there’s money to be saved for those who are flexible in location. Do some research to see what comparable houses are selling for in your current market and then check out a few other areas you would consider moving to as well to compare the costs and amenities.


There are lots of retirement communities popping up in Canada for seniors 55+ and they offer many different options when it comes to housing with bungalows, townhouses or apartments to choose from. This could be a good choice if you’re looking for a sense of community and belonging with the added perks of amenities, activities and services aimed directly at the 50+ crowd.


Some of the major perks of condo living include not shoveling snow, not cutting the grass and no general maintenance or upkeep when it comes to major things like the roof, foundation, driveway etc. Condos are also a great option if you plan to do a lot of traveling since you won’t have to worry about leaving your house unattended for long periods of time. You can lock your door and leave knowing the building has security you can rely on. Downsizing from a large home to a condo could be a difficult transition due to the decrease in square footage and you’ll also have to factor in the requirement to pay monthly condo fees for general upkeep and maintenance of the building. If you’re considering a condo, try to find a building with the amenities you want (pool, gym, party roof, rooftop deck etc.) so that if you are paying condo fees, at least they can go toward amenities you’re excited about.


Making this choice can seem scary, especially after owning a home for so long but this option is still an important one to consider. Choosing to sell your house and then move into a rental unit, will free up all the equity in your home, and for some people, that makes the most financial sense. You can invest the money you make from the sale and live off the income it generates for you as a result.


Downsizing can quite literally mean selling your current large home, buying a new, smaller home and pocketing the extra cash you’ll make along the way. It’s important to consider your needs when downsizing as sacrificing space often means sacrificing other things, too. Make a list of what you absolutely need in a smaller home so you don’t wind up downsizing into something that although more manageable, doesn’t actually work for your lifestyle.



Do your homework to find the solution that works best for your lifestyle and needs. Consider the extra costs (financial, personal and emotional) that may come with downsizing and make sure to ask yourself the right questions to determine if it’s the right for you and your family. Want to learn more about all your options? When you’re ready to talk, I can help.