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When Is It Time to Downsize?

When Is It Time to Downsize?

Gretchen Bossio

“I think we are going to sell our house … get something smaller.”

It caught me off guard, hearing this news from my best friend. She and her husband purchased their home just a few years ago and it has so many features they had dreamed of in a home. With a giant backyard and space for guests all in the perfect proximity to school and work, their home purchase made so much sense. In fact, I remember the conversations before they bought it. I cheered them on. They deserved it. They could afford it. It was a perfect choice. But now it was no longer the right fit. They had a change of heart and planned to downsize, but why?

The Decision

The text and phone conversations that followed her announcement clarified. Despite being in the peak of their careers in software development and nonprofit management, the house that was intended to be a blessing for their family had become a burden. Selling was the key to a big financial transition that would prime them for wise, future-fueled planning. With two time consuming careers and two equally busy kids the house was just too much: too much of an investment, too much upkeep. Letting it go would free them.

Granted, they thoroughly enjoyed the space of their yard, it allowed room for trampoline, storage space, gardening, and more, but they hated the hours required to maintain it each week. The guest space was nice, especially since both of their families lived out of town. But should their housing decisions really be based on visitors?

And the house projects – new paint here, updating a bathroom there – and regular cleaning, it seemed never ending. That’s what happens with home ownership, I suppose. More space requires more tidying and more DIYs and more organizational upkeep. Not to mention the cost of the house. They were done and I understood.

Other People’s Opinions

Many others didn’t understand, not in the slightest. Why, in the peak of careers, would a couple choose to downsize? That’s not the goal … or is it? 

Many people are selling the narrative that as your career reaches its prime it’s time to upgrade – spend more, do more, be more. Cars, exotic vacations, dream homes, new furniture for said home, purebred pets, private schools, anniversary diamonds, you name it – if it’s more and better, it should be yours. But my best friend is doing the opposite. She is saying no to upgrades and doing the opposite, she’s downsizing … and she is oh so happy about it.

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A Different American Dream

This week her story came full circle. Their house sold and their offer was accepted on a smaller townhome in a neighboring city. They are thrilled to make the move. And just in time for Christmas, and I think that is a spectacular gift. They bought themselves freedom in 2021. Can you think of anything better? Releasing the pressure to upgrade, spend more, and keep up with the Joneses has opened up countless doors for their family of four. By choosing to downsize their family will now be able to live more intentionally with their time and money. If that isn’t a dream come true, I don’t know what is.

I am beyond proud and so inspired. My best friend is bucking the norm and making choices that fit her family now and set them up for future successes. By changing pace and modifying their housing situation they are kicking off some huge changes that will immensely redirect their coming decade.

Downsizing will allow them to finally pay off their pesky student loans, save for college for their children, prepare better for retirement, cut hours at work, spend more time with each other and their kids, and less time doing yard work. All of that for a little less space and home prestige? Sounds like a win to me!Such a win, that my husband and I are in the beginning stages of considering something similar. Do we truly need 3,000 square feet? Would less space give us more? If our mortgage didn’t consume so much of our monthly budget, what could we do? What do we want the next 5-10 years to look like for our family as our kids grow and exit our home? Is downsizing the key for us too?

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