Four Tips to Downsizing for Empty-Nesters

So graduation just wrapped up and look at that, your youngest child is about to leave the nest. Well done! Our hats are off to you and the amazing endurance and wisdom raising a family must have taken.

While some parents might feel a twinge of sadness at transitioning into the next phase of life, we’re right here to coach you into it with the celebration that it deserves. Life is about choices, and moments like this can be either thrilling and full of possibility or a teary-eyed trip down memory lane.

Certainly, that is bound to happen as you go through the steps to downsize. Take a moment, breathe, experience the emotions, then cheer up! You’re about to get a second lease on life sans the constant pressures of parenting.

Follow our steps below to regain a smidgeon of that pre-family freedom.

Take Inventory

Keep what you want, sell what you don’t. If you can’t sell it, consider donating it. There are loads of secondhand stores and other places that accept donations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. Or, if you don’t have a way to haul big objects off, put them out on the curb and post to Craigslist or whatever free classified program you have in your area. Check out your closets and remove what you don’t need. Experts agree that if you haven’t used it in a year, you don’t need it.

One person’s junk is another person’s treasure. Great things can come from these moments of shedding the deadweight. Did you save up a year’s worth of food storage, and now that you’re downsizing, you’re ready to off-load all that food?

Canned food can stay good years beyond its sell-by date (find specific information on that here). While you may not be able to sell it or give it to the local food pantry, there might be someone out there who could use it. Giving it away could just make their day and yours (with the caveats that some of it is expired, of course—make sure they know).

Put What You Can’t Part with in a Storage Unit

Now, we’re all very familiar with the child that wants to keep their room at home exactly as it was when they were 15 or 18. They’ve moved out and it’s time to coax them to move on; however, they don’t have a big enough place yet to store their very important Pokemon Go card collection or records, or whatever is so necessary that they’re leaving it back at Mom and Dad’s house.

Two words: storage unit. They can cost more than you might want to spend, but the object is to find a way to declutter, with the end result hopefully being, selling the big house and downsizing into a smaller one that fits your new life.

Because that new life? It’s going to be great.

Is it Really Worth the Effort to Sell and Move?

Great question. To determine if selling and moving is right for you, entertain some of the following questions. Do you have three or more bedrooms sitting empty more than six months of the year? When it’s just you and your partner at home, how many rooms do you tend to occupy? If it’s the kitchen, your bedroom, and the other common areas, but you have a double common area that neither of you spend time in, perhaps you could lose a few hundred square feet and still feel content.

Extra unused space in a home might just be money waiting for you to cash into. Many empty-nesters have tens of thousands of dollars in home equity that could be used as a downpayment on a smaller home, or to pay off debt, or to take a much-deserved ten-country trip across Europe, or a two-week resort vacation.

You just raised a family. Time to celebrate. Unlock that equity and put it into your bank.

Big Changes: Good or Bad?

Maybe they energize you. Maybe they scare you. Whichever it is, this is a big change. Is there a rush to make a decision? It’s not something that requires a quick decision. That’s the great thing about it. You might feel that waiting until your youngest has been in college or living in their own apartment for a year or more is best for you.

Beginning to think about it now will prepare you for the future possibility of selling your home and buying a new one. Having a chance to warm up to the idea will get you ready and potentially give you a surge of gusto that can see you through this major transition.

However you approach it, the decision to sell and buy a new home has many facets that a home loan expert can help you navigate. You might have paid off your current home and want to know how much you might get for it and how much you’ll need to buy a new one that fits your needs better. Academy has experts ready to listen and coach you through it. Times have changed and the landscape of mortgages is quite different even from what it was five years ago.

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