We don’t have to look to hard to see the bad outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Job loss, uncertainty, fear, death.
But there is going to be some good that comes out at the end of this. Pollution is down. Businesses that can still operate at capacity are embracing work-from-home technology that will benefit them in the future. And, yes, people seem to be exercising more.
Time spent in isolation at home also triggers the brain to rethink everything going on in one’s life and truly pinpoint what matters most. That’s a good thing.
This new normal has certainly shifted how businesses operate. Denver High-Rise Living has landed much of its business through networking and educational events. As we know, events were one of the first things that government and health officials encouraged us to end. So, we shifted our focus to heightening our presence on social media to continue educating our followers about Denver’s evolving skyline.
It just so happens that we had an event planned for this month focused on downsizing — something a number of empty-nesters across metro Denver are considering as their kids move out and their house starts to echo just a bit more. The event, which we are still planning to host, but likely virtually, was supposed to touch on not only the tips and tricks of downsizing, but also the psychology.
On paper, downsizing should be an exciting time. A new home, a new neighborhood. In a way, it’s a renewed sense of living. Downsizing from a large single-family home where you spent your time raising a family into a low-maintenance condo or townhome in the city — maybe near a park that’s perfect for those morning walks — is a route many Coloradans are making today.
And don’t get us wrong. It is a very exciting time.
But downsizing also comes with a healthy amount of emotions. It’s not easy saying goodbye to a long-time home. Potentially parting ways with things in your house — from furniture to knickknacks — also comes with its own set of struggles.
“Downsizing is really shifting your perspective of what you value in life,” said Marina Dagenais, with Denver-based Designer Premier. “It can be a nerve-wracking time, but also a time to fully understand what’s most important to you.”
What better time to truly determine your lifestyle needs than while you’re being asked to stay at home for the foreseeable future.
Should I downsize my home?
Downsizing isn’t for everyone. Some people are comfortable growing old in the home they raised their children in and that’s OK. One of the main questions you need to answer around this decision is focused on the size of living.
Ask yourself: Will moving into smaller digs feel like a step forward, because I’m living more environmentally friendly and simplifying my life? Or will it feel like a step backward?
Cost also plays into it. As we’ll mention, moving into a smaller space should result in you having more money because a smaller space is less money than a larger house. But you also have to consider some new costs, like downsized-furniture to fit into your home. If you’re moving into a condo, you may need to consider HOA fees now. In other words, it’s not as simple as saying, “We’re downsizing,” and all of a sudden, there’s this influx of cash in your bank account.
Need to downsize
Some people, unfortunately, may be forced to downsize as a result of this pandemic if the economy doesn’t bounce back at full strength. A Merrill Lynch survey found that 64% of downsizing retirees are doing so in order to lower their monthly housing costs, while 44% say a larger house is just too much work.
Health can also play into a decision to downsize. Are you officially done with stairs? Are your drives to the grocery store longer than you like? If your health and wellbeing feels jeopardized by your current living situation, downsizing could be the answer.
We don’t know know what the post-COVID-19 world looks like today, and we won’t truly understand what happened until it’s fully in our rear-view mirror. That’s why it’s so important to spend time now reflecting on that second chapter of life, what downsizing could look like and how you can accomplish it with as little stress as possible.
For those of you who have decided that downsizing is in your future…
- Organize: Like any major task — personal or professional — you need a battle plan. Write down your room-by-room plan with hard deadlines. The brain responds to little victories, so start with the smallest room first and check that box before going to the next smallest room.
- Start early: You may think two or three weeks worth of going through your entire house is enough time, but if you have the liberty of time, shoot for as much as six months.
- Start with the keeps: Downsizing is largely focused on getting rid of things. So, start with the things you absolutely want to keep in your next home. Yes, you do need to pull from Marie Kondo’s playbook and ask if the stuff you want absolutely brings you joy. If you’re unsure, put it away in a box for four weeks and then go back and ask yourself how many times you pulled that item out or even thought about it. If you did neither, then it’s probably not of personal value in your home anymore.
- Measure and buy new furniture: Seriously. Chances of that 10-year-old sofa in your current home simply won’t fit the living room in your new downtown condo. As you plan for a downsizing, also plan financially for some new furniture. Chances are strong you’re bringing a lot of equity into this purchase, so set some money aside for that purchase. All condos are different, which means you may have to go with a custom-sized couch to ensure it fits perfectly. Thankfully, in addition to local shops, a number of online retailers offer relatively affordable custom options. Just make sure you measure and triple-check your work before purchasing.
- Maximize wall space: When buying new furniture, look to use the walls as much — and perhaps more — than stuff that sits on the floor. This is especially easy with media-related furniture in a living room. TVs are thin and are practically designed now to hang on the wall. Look to complement that TV with in-wall shelving and cubbies to give yourself some more space on the floor. You won’t feel as cramped.
- Don’t rent storage: We get it. You’re just not sure if you can part ways with certain items. But this is really where you need to shift your perspective on what you value in life. Do you really feel better knowing things that are allegedly important to your life are stored several miles away from you in a mini garage surrounded by hundreds of other mini garages? Save that money on storage and invest it in a smarter way to remember those items, like a high-quality coffee book filled with photos and stories of those items.