When one thinks of downsizing, empty nesters often come to mind. Couples whose children have left the home find the maintenance and expenses of a larger home not worth it anymore, and look to move into a smaller space. But the benefits of downsizing are being enjoyed by many with a ‘full nest’ looking to simplify their life, free up their time and yes, save money.
Denaye Barahona, the founder of Simple Families, a blog, podcast and community dedicated to helping families thrive through simple living, recently downsized her own home. “The American Dream has always been about the big house with the big yard. We lived in a large home for three years and very quickly learned that the American Dream wasn’t our dream.” Barhona recalls. “I realized that I didn’t want to take care of this anymore. We wanted less.”
The obvious benefits to downsizing your home are the financial ones. Mortgage, insurance and utilities can be significantly less with a smaller house. But as Barahona points out, it’s not just the costs of the house that add up, it’s the time and responsibility that came with the larger house that weighed on them. “When we bought the house, what surprised us most was not the cost of the mortgage; we knew how much that would be. It’s everything else that came along with the house. The maintenance, lawn care, repairs, and all the other unexpected ‘stuff’. There’s so much more to maintain and fix and think about with a larger home. I didn’t want to spend all my money on mulch and all my time calling repair people to fix broken appliances. If you have two toilets, there are only two toilets that can break. When you have five toilets, there’s a significantly higher chance of one needing repairs.” In fact, she said after they moved to their smaller home they booked a ski trip for the whole family during that first spring. “That’s exactly when we’d normally book our landscaping for the old house. And coincidentally, it was the exact same amount of money. We are trading stuff, home and responsibilities for experiences and fun.”
While the financial relief of a smaller house can be dramatic, for Barahona and many others, it was more about the freedom a smaller home provides. However, Barhona recoginizes the there is a big difference between choosing to downsize your home and doing it out of necessity because of financial reasons. In fact, she recently discussed this with Tiffany Aliche, better known as ‘The Budgetnista’, on her Simple Families Podcast. Aliche had also recently downsized their home, and they talked about how it was sometimes awkward telling people that they downsized. “Tiffany and I discussed how it can sometimes be uncomfortable to tell people we’ve moved into a smaller house, because they assume that means we are in a bad place financially. Tiffany summed it up perfectly. She said she simply tells people ‘I downsized my home to upgrade my life.”
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