Are you considering downsizing from a house to a condominium but feel anxious about the transition or overwhelmed about de-cluttering and getting rid of years of accumulated "stuff"?
We helped a few clients transition from a house to a condo this year and we wanted to share what they expressed to us about their downsizing experience. Hopefully this will be helpful and give you some food for thought.
They expressed that, in some instances, it’s radically different yet there are common themes. We’ve summarized their “lessons learned” below. We hope that you find their perspectives helpful.
All our clients talked of the freedom they gained when they moved into their condos. Whether it was freedom from outdoor maintenance, worry-free travel or moving about easier without stairs, everyone found that they had added convenience and accessibility … plus time … to their daily lifestyle. And when looking to the future, the convenience of condo living fit their idea of hassle free retirement living. One of our clients stated, “The biggest benefit is ease of living and peace of mind.”
Although, some who have dogs found it inconvenient to have to take an elevator on a regular daily basis and missed the ease of a backyard. Of course this inconvenience multiplies as the weather gets colder. Possibly sharing dog walking with other dog owners in the building or hiring an occasional dog walker (if finances permit) would lessen this inconvenience.
Know Your Neighbourhood
Many of our clients purchased condos in the same area where their house is located. This allowed them to continue to enjoy the amenities (shops, restaurants) that were already familiar. It also made it easier to maintain existing relationships with local friends and family. For those who moved out of their neighbourhood, they found it exciting to explore their new community. Many moved to new locations downtown and began to discover the city in ways they never had before. What they may have lost in physical space, they feel they gained with easy access to work, dining, activities, public transportation and other amenities.
Do you wish to move into a building with a gym, pool, billiard room, meeting room or party room? If you are not likely to use these types of amenities, our clients recommend that you shop around for a building where “less is more”. Be aware of what types of amenities you will use on a daily basis because these services are part of the common elements fees that you pay for. You don’t want to end up feeling resentful because you are paying for amenities and services that you do not use. Do your homework.
Be prepared to change your expectations around privacy. Your personal space in a condo is simply not the same as in a single-family home. Walls may be thinner than you are used to, noises may echo and you could end up hearing your neighbours. Also, it is not unusual to run into your neighbours more frequently in the shared areas – such as the lobby, parking and elevator. Some of our clients commented that “getting along with neighbours becomes more important because we see them more than we did when we lived in a house.”
Start to Downsize and De-clutter as Early as Possible
The greatest challenge in the transition from single family home to condo may be downsizing and parting with things you have accumulated over the years. All our clients recommend that you start the process early - and be brutal. Use the two-year rule when going through your clothing – if you haven’t worn it in two years, place it on the discard / donation pile. Use online classified services such as Craigslist and Kijiji. If you have a lot of heirloom / valuable pieces that you wish to part with, consider working with an estate service – you may be able to sell some of the pieces.
Consider hiring a downsizing specialist or organizer which will make the move much easier if you can afford it. Our clients have expressed that they couldn’t have executed the move efficiently or as timely without this invaluable service. Many specialists do it all from packing, sorting and cleaning to managing the move on moving day, unpacking and setting up in your new space. This gives you the time and energy to really plan your new space and then sit back and enjoy it from day one!!
All our clients warned against renting a storage locker for extra pieces of furniture and excess belongings. They recognized that if they needed to put the item in storage, they could live without it and they could end up paying for a storage locker for years. Start the process of de-cluttering early and be ruthless. And consider using moving services for both the packing and unpacking!!
One of our clients suggested that if you have some treasures that are particularly hard to part with, take a picture and create a photo album that brings back all the memories. It worked for them!
Overall, the move to a condo was very positive for our clients. They all found the transition easier than they thought it would be, and the benefits far outweighed any perceived drawbacks. Exploring new neighbourhoods, meeting new people, hassle free travel and more manageable expenses and maintenance all led one of our clients to say, “I LOVE MY CONDO. “