Stop downsizing and start rightsizing

Stop downsizing and start rightsizing

When you start thinking about moving into a smaller place, it can bring up all kinds of emotions - both pleasant and unpleasant. You're leaving behind a lifestyle, memories...and the place you've called home for years. But you're also starting something new and different, and while that may be a little stressful, it's also exciting. Imagine the possibilities!

To me, the word downsizing has always had a negative connotation. After all, who wants to be downsized? You can't help but associate it with corporate layoffs, with the idea that you're losing something and moving to something that's somehow less than what you had before. That's why a lot of companies now use the term "rightsizing" instead. And while some of you may see it as nothing more than a euphemism (and sometimes it is), done right, rightsizing isn't actually about loss, but about structuring the company in a way that works for their current circumstances, making changes that make sense.

Same thing applies to our lives, finances and homes. Whether you've decided you don't want all that square footage now that your kids have moved out, you want to make changes to your current home so you can stay there for the long term, or you want a lock-it-in-and-leave-it setup that lets you travel more, that's not you settling for something less. It's you choosing a home that makes sense for the way you want to live your life right now. It's you...rightsizing.

Unlike traditional downsizing, rightsizing isn't reactive - it's proactive. It's a plan where you can maximize what you've built over the course of your lifetime, and focus not on what you're giving up, but the life you want to live now and the amazing future you've got ahead. In other words, it isn't about winding up your life - it's about getting started on the next chapter.

So what does rightsizing look like?

There's no one way to do it - it's about doing what's right for you. Your plan might involve selling your large home to find a smaller space that's a better fit with your changing lifestyle. It might mean moving out of the city to a quiet spot in the country - or out of the suburbs into the downtown core. It might mean staying in your home but renovating to allow you to age in place. It could mean minimizing your belongings so you can live more comfortably in a less cluttered space.

Or it could even be the opposite - upgrading to something bigger or more luxurious. Really? Why would a mature homeowner or empty nester want to upsize to an even larger home? People ask me that all the time. And the answer is simple: because they can. Because it’s the right move for them and their lifestyle. It happens all the time.

Rightsizing should also be a key component of your financial planning: ensuring you have the resources to get through your retirement years the way you want, without financial stress. If you can comfortably carry a mortgage, then great. But if you're looking for something lower maintenance or you want to cash in some equity to travel or start a new business...that's good too. As long as it makes sense for you financially and is a positive move toward the lifestyle of your choice.

Modern Living Area

Rightsizing in action: Brenda and Eddie buy a condo

Brenda and Eddie, an active couple in their early sixties, owned a 4,000 square foot home in North Toronto and were getting tired of climbing stairs and keeping up with all the routine maintenance their big property required. But the idea of moving into a small condo didn't appeal to them - they thought it would be cramped, uncomfortable - and a significant compromise they didn't want to make. So last spring, they called me to find out what their options might be, and we sat down to talk about what "rightsizing" their living arrangements could look like.

Right off, they were pleasantly surprised that they didn't have to settle for a tiny condo. We crunched some numbers and found that they could easily afford a spacious unit in a great location - with plenty left over to boost up their savings.

Their must-haves for their new home were a couple of bedrooms plus a den they could use as an office, a modern kitchen and two full bathrooms. I showed them that their budget could accommodate not only these basic elements, but also get them a large balcony with a breathtaking view of the city and the lake, indoor parking, recreational facilities, an indoor pool and much more!

Older couple having dinner

Now they have no stairs to climb or maintenance to worry about - just an airy, light-filled space, great amenities at their disposal, and a fantastic view. Yes, they did need to minimize their possessions to fit into less square footage, but they don't see that as a loss. Today, having less stuff feels like they've simply gained some extra "breathing room" that they didn't have before, and they love living with more minimal space.

The moral of the story? Brenda and Eddie didn't have to downsize and settle for too-small of a space that didn't suit their needs. By rightsizing, they discovered that moving to a smaller home didn't have to mean compromising: it meant opening up an exciting new chapter where life is simpler, easier, and offers lots of interesting possibilities.

About Adam Linden

Adam (a.k.a. "The Condo Coach") is a Seniors' Real Estate Specialist (SRES) who gets the call when mature adults and their families are looking to rightsize their homes, finances and lifestyles. He has built a reputation as a trusted real estate advisor to the 50+ crowd, working with a team of professionals to get the right people in place so he can help his clients plan smart. He has written articles and ebooks on real estate for this market segment and is always available for free consultations, speaking engagements and networking events - drop him a line.

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