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“Does this spark joy?”

Millions of people are asking themselves this question about their homes and possessions thanks to Marie Kondo and her wildly popular decluttering philosophy. 

Once the kids move out, it’s just you, your spouse, and whatever is still boxed up in extra bedrooms and the basement. Whether you’re looking for joy or just a little less space and stuff to manage, you might be thinking about decluttering and “downsizing” into a smaller home before you retire. 

But sometimes, less can be more: more hassle, more complicated, and more expensive. Before you and your spouse order that dumpster and make a down payment on that condo, consider these important pros and cons of downsizing. 

PRO: Make a Change While You Can Still Enjoy It

The younger you are during a downsize, the less help you’re going to need clearing out what you don’t want and relocating. And a clean, organized home can be a great “blank slate” as you start easing into your new life. You might even organize a move around interests you want to pursue in retirement, like a community with golf and tennis facilities or a burgeoning foodie hotspot with an exploding restaurant scene. 

CON: You Might Make a Change You Don’t Both Enjoy

Couples need to be very clear with each other about their expectations for what life is going to be like in retirement and how each of you wants to spend your time separately and together. A downsizing that moves you to a new town away from friends, family, and familiar comforts can go from exciting to exasperating very quickly if both spouses aren’t committed to adventuring together. One spouse might be happily teeing off while the other is puttering around the house bored silly. 

And while a smaller house without kids and clutter might mean more room for you and your spouse, it’s still going to be closer quarters than you’re used to. Is less space going to provide you both with enough personal space?

PRO: Simplified Living 

A smaller home means less upkeep. If you buy, you’ll probably pay less in taxes than you did at your larger house. With less space to heat and cool, and no kids soaking up extra water, food, and electricity, your monthly bills might go down. If your smaller house is relatively new, it also might require less upkeep and age well, right along with you. 

CON: Simple Isn’t Free 

There’s a pretty good chance your current furniture isn’t going to fit or “fit in” at your new house. Since our old stuff is never as valuable to resellers as we want it to be, you’ll probably end up dipping into your nest egg to buy new furnishings. Anything you don’t want to get rid of will have to be stored, either in that beautiful, empty basement or at a storage facility you’ll have to pay for. If you move to a different state, your smaller home might come with higher taxes. Or, what you save on taxes buying a condo might be offset by association and communal maintenance fees. 

PRO: Living the Best Life Possible With Your Money

The best reason to consider downsizing doesn’t really have anything to do with decluttering. It’s not about managing space or what to do with all your possessions. 

No, the reason to downsize is that the smaller home you’re thinking about will allow you to live the life you want to live in retirement. It’s because that home is going to give you the space to do the things you want to do with the people you love while minimizing the things you don’t want to do anymore. 

Does that idea spark joy?

Then click here to connect with me and to learn more about retirement planning that focuses on your joy and not just your money. Find out how you can open a big new world of possibilities in retirement for you and your spouse.

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