It may seem like a lifetime ago that you purchased your first home. And it may have seen a lifetime of changes! From a couple’s home to a family home – and maybe even the next generation of grandchildren, the house you live in holds decades of memories. But the time does come where that home is no longer suitable. For one or two people, a family home can sometimes be too large, too difficult to maintain, and simply inefficient. And the words ‘downsizing’ start to make their way around the kitchen table.
And so the time comes to move on. Easier said than done, right! Beyond the challenges of simply finding a new house, there’s also the difficulty of letting go of a place that stores many memories. The purchase of any new home comes challenges, here are some common challenges that many downsizers face:
Where to put all of your possessions?
A smaller house does mean less space for your existing furniture and belongings. Downsizing from a three or four-bedroom home translates to less space for beds, and smaller houses can often mean cutting back from multiple living areas to just one or two. Some of your prized possessions may just be too large for the smaller living quarters, and it can be difficult to choose which things to leave behind.
See it as an opportunity to reduce, streamline and declutter. Try to live that minimalist life. Be selective and choose only your favourite or most necessary items, and then embark on a mission to sell, to give away to friends or relatives, or to donate to charity. It will mean that everything left behind is there for a specific purpose – be that for its use or for its sentimentality.
Loss of (perceived) social status
Some people can struggle with the emotional shift from owning a large, expansive home to something smaller and more compact. For many, home ownership can be a status symbol: the bigger the better. Their home is an indication of their success, something that they are proud of, and honoured to welcome their friends to. It can be a hard mentality to shift if that’s how you have operated for as long as you can remember – and it may be a value that has been instilled in you from childhood, from your parents and their parents’ parents.
Try to understand that this pressure to have the biggest and the best is most often placed upon you from an internal set of values, and that no one judges you so much as you judge yourself. It is an emotional shift that you need to go through to be able to let go of your belief that bigger is better, but once you get past it and can see all the benefits associated with a smaller house you will be all the happier for it.
New neighbourhood blues
If downsizing also comes with moving to a new neighbourhood, there is the extra heartache of leaving behind familiar places and faces. You may lose that special connection with the local butcher, the convenience of walking to and from your favourite coffee shop, or maybe even the long-held neighbours you’ve known and loved.
Moving is always hard. We naturally attach ourselves to our neighbourhood and everything that comes with it. Remember it’s not ‘goodbye’ but ‘see you soon’, there’s nothing stopping you from coming back to visit!
Letting go of memories
Undoubtedly one of the hardest things to overcome when selling the family home is moving on from all the memories made within its walls. From lost teeth, first bike rides, birthdays, milestones, tears, tantrums and celebrations; family homes are much more than the bricks and mortar that hold them together.
While it is sad to leave the place where it all began, you don’t lose the memories. You can collect photos and write about your experiences – and above all you will have those memories forever in your heart; moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. Look forward to the new home and the many new and wonderful memories that you can make there.