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7 Expert Downsizing Tips You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

It’s easy to see the appeal of moving from a big home into a compact space that requires less maintenance. But the process involves careful planning. Here are seven tips to make sure you find the right fit.

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Be realistic about your budgetPhoto: Shutterstock

Be realistic about your budget

“The biggest misperception is that people equate downsizing with paying less,” says Barb Sukkau, the president-elect of the Canadian Real Estate Association and a realtor in the Niagara region. “But a lot of new bungalows and condominiums are quite pricey.” If you need your house to provide a nest egg, consider other ways you can make your budget work, such as looking for homes in a less expensive location.

Bonus: Never Try These Home Improvement Projects Yourself!

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Home inspectorPhoto: Shutterstock

Don’t get caught by unexpected costs

Even if you make money off the sale of your home, moving will take a bite out of your profits. Closing costs—which include things like a home inspector fee, bank appraisal fee and, in many provinces, land transfer tax—range from 1.5 to 4 per cent of the selling price. If you’re buying a condo, factor in monthly maintenance fees and keep a small reserve for un­foreseen expenses.

Check out these tips from Canadian home inspectors before moving.

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Modern apartment buildingsPhoto: Shutterstock

Buy a place your future self will thank you for

Even if you’re purchasing at 60, think of what your body will be able to manage at 80. That might mean searching for a residence that doesn’t have stairs or scoping out locations that have amenities within walking distance. Another option is to consider a condo or a townhouse, where monthly fees buy you snow removal, repairs and the maintenance of common areas.

Plus: Mike Holmes Reveals the One Mistake All Home Owners Make

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Modern bedroom in apartmentPhoto: Shutterstock

Start with the end in mind

Sukkau says a surprising number of people buy a place that fits their furniture, rather than the other way around. “I’ll have couples say, ‘Oh, this bedroom won’t fit my king-sized bedroom suite,’” exp­lains Sukkau. Buy the place that’s right for your lifestyle—even if it means selling your stuff and purchasing condo-sized furniture after, or renting a storage locker to house heirlooms.

This handy guide tells you where to take everything.

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Young woman holding cardboard box of objectsPhoto: Shutterstock

Schedule a decluttering date

Before you move, you must sort through your stuff. Victoria, B.C.-based Stephanie Deakin, president of Professional Organizers in Canada, recommends tackling the project in two- to three-hour chunks. That’s enough to get one task done—like cleaning out the kitchen cupboards or your closet—but not so much that you’ll be overwhelmed. “Block that time out on your calendar and honour that appointment,” she says.

Plus: 8 Steps to Decluttering Your Garage

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Modern living roomPhoto: Shutterstock

Procrastinate a bit

Not every decision needs to be made immediately. If you can’t choose between two end tables, pack them both or revisit the decision in a week, says Deakin. Sometimes you won’t be 100 per cent sure about a choice you need to make; knowing that there’s room to recalibrate afterwards can allow you to move forward.

Improve your decision-making skills with these tips.

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North American bungalowPhoto: Shutterstock

Get enthusiastic about what’s ahead

There are a lot of feelings tied up in leaving a home—especially one you’ve lived in for a long time. Still, think about how your new house will help you live the lifestyle you want  “Obviously [people are] moving for a reason,” says Sukkau. “It is emotional, but it’s also exciting. It’s a new adventure.”

Ready for the big move? Read these 7 Tips for Successful House Hunting.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada