Downsizing Your Home the Smart Way
Think your apartment is small?
You’ve got nothing on Luke Clark Tyler, who’s 78 square foot shoebox in the middle of Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood makes your apartment look like mansion. Tyler sacrificed the living space for affordability, cutting his monthly rent nearly in half and spending a paltry $800. For the same rent, Tyler could have a nice apartment elsewhere in Queens, Brooklyn or across the bridge in New Jersey. He chose the small living space because his lifestyle demanded he stay “in the thick of it all,” and he felt the sacrifice was worth it.
Wondering how Tyler lives?
Rather comfortably, he says, thanks in part to custom furniture and storage solutions designed to keep his things safe and his space breathable. Tyler has about enough room to walk around in, and his bed doubles as sofa.
It’s no secret that with Manhattan realty, space is a commodity. You may not want to go extreme and downgrade to Tyler’s lengths, but there are a variety of reasons why a family might want to downgrade and improve living conditions.
One way to declutter your house is to move all the things you don’t need off-site. Storage sites are useful for old furniture, bulky items (like camping supplies or boxes that never got unpacked after your last move). If space was an issue, moving your items off-site solves the problem. It also relieves stress and gives your home some sorely needed organization. Tyler spent a few days looked at the storage units Bronx and other parts of New York City to see what they had to offer. He also compared them with other areas–comparison is always a smart choice.
You can also deduct the costs of your storage unit each year from your taxes, if you store those goods for longer than 30 consecutive days.
Take an inventory of the items in your home, but track the items you need instead of what you have. Try to imagine that a hurricane ran through your house and whisked all of your stuff out of your living quarters. What would you replace?
That list effectively downsizes the amount of stuff you have, which makes downsizing your home actually feasible. Remember, downsizing isn’t just about moving your stuff around and organizing, you’re actually living in a smaller space. Therefore you should take only the things you need to survive in the new space and work on upgrading from there.
Sell What You Don’t Need
That need for cash should drive you to sell the things you don’t need. You can pair with neighbors and have a sale outside your current house, or list your items for sale on the Bronx section of Craigslist. eBay is another option, but you may not be able to sell the item as quickly as you would on Craigslist. You can try the “Buy it Now” option, which may expedite the selling process, but if your asking price is not optimal (either too high or too low) the item may not move.
Take that extra cash an invest in some storage for your home. Cupboards and dressers are especially useful for clothes, pantry items and utensils.
Know the Costs
Many boomers are downsizing as their kids go off to college. The break in finances eases retirement burdens, and the smaller space is often easier to care for as we age. As we saw in Tyler’s example, some are forced to downgrade if they want a certain location.
Also, the federal government warns consumers to get everything in writing. That includes estimates to move you, home inspections on the new home, offers, and any other legal dillemas that may come up during the course of buying a home. If your provider won’t put it in writing, walk away from the deal and try something else until you get what you want.
Getting Past Emotions
The emotional toll is perhaps the hardest to deal with, and it’s why you should take your time when shopping for a new home. You’ve most likely lived in your current home for years, and most people aren’t downsizing because they want to. If you’re forced into a situation where your loan has gone upside down, or you need assistance for housing, check with the Federal Housing Administration to see what can be done for you.
You will need some personal documents, and you’ll have to fill out some forms, but income assistance is available for those who need it. You may even get a modified mortgage to keep you in your original home. If you do need to move, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Manhattan is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, so there is no shame in seeking a more affordable living space.