Owning a home is a dream for many Americans. However, that dream can become a hassle when the abundance of square footage is no longer necessary. All the extra space that you once needed is now just an extra area to clean, heat in the winter months, and cool in the summer months. If your extra square footage is simply gathering cobwebs you may be at the point in your life where it is time to downsize to an apartment.
Downsizing to an apartment is as much an emotional journey as it is a logistical journey. You are moving from a spacious, private single-family home to a unit with shared walls, shared amenities, and shared parking spaces. This is a drastic change that you need to prepare yourself for. Luckily there are a few steps you can take prior to moving that will make downsizing much easier.
Declutter and Simplify
All of the items that you have collected within your home won’t fit into a smaller apartment. Your first step to simplifying your life and downsizing is to declutter. This can be an overwhelming process because it requires you to choose between items that you need to keep and those that can be given away or thrown away. Begin your decluttering journey by asking for help from friends, family, or organization specialists. Yes, there are people out there who declutter, deep clean, and organize other people’s homes for a living. The most famous organizational consultant and now world famous author and TV show host is Marie Kondo. Her decluttering method, the KonMari method follows 5 steps that is a proven method of decluttering your home. The KonMari method begins with discarding items in this order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, and mementos. Break each category into subcategories. For instance, clothes would be broken down into tops, bottoms, jackets, accessories, bags, shoes, etc. Next comes the most important step. Pick up each item one by one and notice how the item makes you feel. Does it spark joy, speak to your heart, or move you? If it does not you should get rid of it. If it does, keep it. When you’ve finished this process with every category and subcategory you can organize your space. This is a process that will take time and a whole lot of patience. So settle in for a long decluttering weekend. It may seem like a monumental task but in the end, removing clutter from your life is a great way to begin your downsizing journey.
Sell Additional Furniture and Unneeded Items
You’ve decluttered your clothes, books, shoes, and momentos. But what about your furniture? Consider the size of home you are currently in compared to the size of the apartment you are moving into. Are they able to hold the same amount of furniture comfortably? Probably not. Apartments tend to be open with a small dining nook, open living room and small entryway. This means that you won’t be needing a kitchen table and a formal dining room table. You also might have trouble fitting your living room furniture and formal sitting room furniture into an apartment. The last thing you want to do is move into a new space and clutter it with unnecessary furniture. Remember, downsizing is supposed to also simplify. So get rid of the excess furniture and decor accessories. There are dozens of online furniture selling platforms you can use. Letgo, Offerup, Shopify, eBay, Craigslights, and Facebook Marketplace are just a few of the available options. Most online selling platforms are easy to use, requiring only a few pictures of the furniture you’ll be selling as well as your asking price. Of course each platform has their own fees and selling requirements so you’ll need to choose which works best for you. There is also the option to sell locally to a furniture resale shop. Many second hand furniture stores accept a variety of lightly used furniture and will offer reasonable payment from the selling price.
Start Your Apartment Search with a Clear Wish List
Moving to an apartment from a private home is a big lifestyle change. Make sure the change really simplifies your life and does not limit it instead. You should search for an apartment the same way you searched for your home. Make a list of the things you need to have in your new apartment. Begin with your budget and the space you need. Be realistic about how much you are willing to spend per month on your apartment. Remember you are simplifying your life, not making it more stressful with a high monthly payment. While you are considering your budget, you should also take into account the amount of space you are going to need. While you are downsizing, you want to make sure you will be comfortable in the size apartment you choose. In addition to the square footage of your new apartment you’ll want to decide on your ideal number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Aside from the layout of your apartment, consider the apartment complex itself. First, are you searching for an apartment that you can remain in even as you age? If you are, then you’ll want an apartment that is either on the ground floor or has access to an elevator. You should also consider location. Is it far away from the city center or close to local attractions? Does it provide the peace and quiet you are looking for or is it loud with a constant stream of traffic? Finally, consider what amenities and outdoor arrangements work best for you. Do you want to have access to a pool, gym, dog park, or private yard space?
Should You Buy or Rent?
Apartments are often associated with rentals, however there is always the option to buy with some apartments. If you have been a homeowner for a long time and you have enough money to purchase your apartment or plan to sell your home to cover the cost of a new apartment you could purchase. If you choose to do this, the maintenance of the apartment will be yours to cover unless the complex is part of a homeowners association. If that is the case you will have monthly HOA fees.
Renting an apartment means that the maintenance issues will be in the hands of the complex. This is a plus for aging individuals or those that travel frequently who do not want to worry about fixing broken pipes or leaking faucets. There are two downsides to renting an apartment: the first is the loss of rent money. You won’t be passing an apartment down to your family or have a piece of property to sell in the long run. Second, there could be adjustments in rent that you have no control over. Most apartments keep their rent prices relatively steady, but there could be an increase down the road when you go to renew your apartment rental contract.
Find the Perfect Apartment
It’s time to find the perfect apartment! Begin with an online search of apartment complexes in your area. There will be plenty of reviews, pictures, or virtual tours so you can get a feel for the apartment. Narrow down your top choice to just a few and then set up appointments to visit each apartment complex. You should get a tour from the apartment representative and be given ample time to view the entire complex. Take your time to walk around the amenities, the parking lot, and of course the apartment. When you are in the apartment you are considering renting or buying, take in the layout, natural light, and features such as kitchen appliances and bathroom features. Remember that most of the units you will be viewing will be vacant so keep an open mind. You can bring a measuring tape and a paper with the sizes of your furniture written down to determine where your furniture would fit.
Review and Sign the Lease for Your New Apartment
Hopefully you have found the apartment that will be the perfect spot for you to downsize and simplify your life. Now its time to sign the paperwork. First, review the basics of the agreement such as the monthly rent price, the length of the lease, and the security deposit. Determine what utilities you are required to pay and which are included in the rent. Also, check the apartment’s damage policy and maintenance policies. No doubt the complex will have a firm pet policy that you will have to abide by as well as rules about subletting and options for renewing your lease.
After you have found your apartment its time to close the chapter on your time as a single-family homeowner. Remember all the decluttering you did to downsize and simplify your life? It’s going to pay off even more when you go to sell your home. A decluttered home has an increased sale price of $2,584. This increase is why over 98% of real estate agents suggest that homeowners declutter before selling their house. You’ve already decluttered, now all you need to do is find a top real estate agent who can help you sell your home quickly and for a great price.
Downsizing can be a difficult process that requires quite a bit of decluttering and doing away with unnecessary items. However, living a simple, easy life is a great addition to a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. Give yourself time to settle into your new apartment and you will soon begin to enjoy the simplicity of your downsized life.