The only thing in life that never changes is the fact that things change. Whether you’re older now and your kids are gone, or the sheer expense of owning a home is starting to feel unreasonable, downsizing from a house into an apartment might well number among the changes you’ll experience. If you’re thinking about downsizing, here are some things to look for when you go from owning to renting.
No Maintenance Required
One of the most favorable aspects of renting for most people is the freedom from the burden of maintenance. When you rent, if the plumbing backs up, you call the landlord or the property manager. Ditto if the roof leaks. On the other hand, if your mortgage is paid off and all you’re paying for is property taxes and maintenance, renting might be more expensive in the long run. For this reason, it’s important to do a cost/benefit analysis to make sure your decision is sound from a financial perspective.
Asking for Permission
If you make the decision to rent, there are a few lifestyle adjustments you’ll need to make to accommodate your new situation. For example, if you want to remodel your apartment, you’ll need to get permission from the property owner. Similarly, if you’d like to plant a flowerbed, or hang an herb box outside your kitchen window, you’ll want to look for a landlord who is amenable to changes.
Another thing to look for when you’re going from owning to renting is a community within which your values are shared. Ideally, everyone in the complex will have a similar sense of propriety respect for the sanctity of one another’s homes and understand the value of a peaceful environment. In other words, if you’re of retirement age, you’ll probably want to avoid moving into an apartment complex bristling with the manic activities of twenty-somethings.
You’ll also need to attend to your homeowner’s insurance policy. This is something many people who rent overlook, thinking the landlord’s insurance will cover losses they’ll incur if something happens to the building. The fact of the matter is the landlord’s coverage will only replace the building. Your possessions won’t be covered, so you’ll need renters insurance. To make sure you get a good deal, conduct a renters insurance comparison to find the most affordable coverage—always taking into consideration the current replacement value of your belongings.
One of the hardest things to do will be deciding what to take with you. If you’re moving from a three-bedroom house with a family room, study, dining room and living room you’re going to make some pretty hard choices about what to take and what to let go. Some of it will be obvious, but with less closet and storage space, a lot of your “stuff” will have to fall by the wayside. In many cases this will also mean letting go of some deep-seeded emotional attachments.
The best way to approach this is to take stock of your possessions and categorize them under the following headings; Gotta Have, Could Live Without, Replaceable and Family Pet. Seriously though, while everybody knows your dog Hunter gets to come along; do you really need to hold on to that 65-inch flat screen for a 1,200-square-foot apartment?
With a bit of planning and careful consideration, downsizing can be quite painless. It also holds the potential for an entirely new lifestyle. So rather than looking at it in terms of what you’re giving up, focus on what you’re gaining and the change will be much more enjoyable.