6 Reasons Baby Boomers Should Consider Downsizing

Now that you’ve grown up and moved out, it might be time for your parents to start thinking about moving on too.

Did you know that boomers will turn 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day for the next 18 years? That’s a lot of American homeowners who are reaching retirement age and starting to think about their next phase in life.

If your parents fall into this category, it could be a good time to consider leaving that large family home behind. Downsizing can help aging parents enjoy their newfound freedom.

Here are six enticing advantages to living the “less is more” lifestyle once the kids have left the nest.

1. Smaller house = smaller mortgage

Generally a smaller home can translate into a smaller monthly mortgage payment. When you’ve lived in your large family home for many years and built up sizable home equity, you may be able to cash out and purchase a new smaller, less-expensive home — even possibly eliminating a mortgage payment entirely.

Want to see what’s out there? Use Trulia’s home search to look for homes by square footage.

2. Reduced monthly expenses

Downsizing your home also downsizes your monthly costs. Utility bills may shrink, taxes and insurance may be reduced, and general upkeep and maintenance should be more affordable.

3. Shed the burden of home upkeep

Moving to a smaller, more affordable home also provides a fantastic opportunity to ditch the snow shovel and slap on some sunscreen. If you take the opportunity to move somewhere with year-round sunshine, your days of raising a family in the cold winters of the Midwest and Northeast could become a distant frozen memory. And even if you choose to stay put in a climate with four seasons, moving to a townhome can mean no more mowing if your community takes care of the landscaping.

4. More affordable town

Downsizing is a great opportunity to move to a less expensive metro area. Finding a city that gives you more “bang for your buck” is a big boon to retirees and empty nesters who will need to adjust to life on a fixed income.

In a hot retirement market like West Palm Beach, FL, the median sales price on a home is $155,000 and the cost of living is affordable. Compare that with a family- and industry-friendly metro like the Chicago suburb of Naperville, IL, where the median sales price is $355,000 and cost-of-living expenses are generally higher. (Both figures are current as of the week ending July 1, 2015.) You’ll find that costs can shrink in towns where affordability is in alignment with real estate prices.

5. Lifestyle upgrade

Empty nesters usually have a bit more time for themselves. In the process of downsizing, you have the opportunity to relocate closer to all the new lifestyle amenities you’ll want to enjoy.

Is it golf, tennis, biking, and other outdoor activities? Or do you prefer life in the city, with restaurants, theater, shopping, and cultural activities all within walking distance? Downsizing allows you to live closer to the lifestyle you want — and hopefully, you’ll have a bit of monthly cash left over to enjoy it!

6. Less stuff = more life

There’s something intangible about downsizing and getting rid of all that “stuff.” As you simplify your home, you simplify your life. Invest the time needed to clean out and edit your possessions, and you’ll create a lifestyle that functions better and is easier to maintain. Talk about a win-win!

Posted by Michael Corbett on Trulia

What Small Homes Can Teach You About Living With Less

It’s spring, so it’s also spring cleaning season, and Step 1 is getting rid of all the unnecessary stuff that accumulates in your home. How does it manage to pile up? Didn’t you just do this last year??!! Maybe you should just throw it all away—for good.

Portable Home ÁPH80, exterior night view. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Ábaton Arquitectura. Photograph © Juan Baraja. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

In fact, that’s what a lot of people are doing now (OK, maybe not all of it). You’ve probably heard about the trend toward living with less—fewer possessions, less space—whether it’s zero-waste living or the tiny house movement.

There are two factors driving people toward small homes today: the economy and the environment, observes Francesc Zamora, author of “150 Best Mini Interior Ideas.” The coffee-table book, published in February, profiles small homes around the world.

Buy now: 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora (Click for the link to buy this book)

“They are generally more affordable, and for home buyers that means smaller mortgages. They are cheaper to maintain as well,” Zamora said in an interview. In addition, he said, “building and maintaining large houses has an impact on the environment. A large house takes more building resources and requires more maintenance than a smaller house. People are willing to go smaller to simplify their lives.”

Zamora said he was inspired by the creative storage solutions that he discovered while researching the book.

“I’m constantly looking for interesting storage solutions,” he said. “I think finding ways to store things is the biggest challenge people deal with, especially city dwellers. The book is chock-full of ideas, but the tricky part is choosing the one that works best for your home, that conforms to your style and to your needs.”

If you’re squeezed into tight quarters or looking to downsize, here are some of Zamora’s top tips.

1. Prefer an open plan

Apartment 1001. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Keiji Ashizawa Design. Photograph © Takumi Ota. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

When space is limited, you don’t want to carve it up. An open view with clean lines makes a space seem larger.

2. Make the most of natural light

Portable Home ÁPH80, interior. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Ábaton Arquitectura. Photograph © Juan Baraja. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

Abundant natural light makes your home feel larger, so capture as much of it as you can. Don’t have floor-to-ceiling windows? “Mirrors expand and reflect light,” Zamora writes. “You can transform a small room into a larger and brighter space by using illusion wisely.”

3. Use a minimalist color palette

Apartment in Wroclaw. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect 3XA. Photograph © S.Zajaczkowski. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

You want to avoid excess in a small space—too much stuff, too many frills, too many colors. Stick to one or two similar shades, max, preferably paler ones that help maintain a light feel.

4. Built-in furniture is key

Architect’s Loft. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect PorterFanna Architecture. Photograph © L.J. Porter. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

“Built-in furniture is perhaps the most efficient furnishing solution for spaces of limited dimensions: it frees up valuable floor area, makes the space less cramped and unifies the décor,” Zamora says.

5. Make your furniture work double duty

Apartment in Arad. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Cristina Bordoiu. Photograph © Sorin Popa. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

In a small space, everything has to earn its keep. “Furniture can be an effective room divider,” Zamora says. “It is an excellent solution for studio apartments where different functions share the same space.”

6. Obsess over your storage

AP 1211. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Alan Chu. Photograph © Djan Chu. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

“Think about how you are going to use your cabinets so you can choose the right type of hardware,” Zamora says. “Look into different door hinges and drawer hardware.” Custom doesn’t have to be pricey, either. “Design your own modular system with crates of different sizes to bring an industrial touch to your home.”

As Zamora’s book shows, living in a small space doesn’t have to feel cramped and inconvenient. A thoughtful approach to simplifying your lifestyle can make a big difference. But still, keep a watchful eye on your stuff—it can pile up without your noticing. Seriously, how does it do that?

Published by Cicely Wedgeworth on realtor.com.

The Upside of Downsizing Your Home

You worked so hard to own your home, it’s hard to imagine moving on—much less to a smaller abode. But while downsizing your home may involve major lifestyle changes, there are a lot of advantages to moving into a smaller space.

Downsizing remains one of the most effective ways to lower housing and energy costs.

These are just a few of the advantages:The Upside of Downsizing Your Home

While the size of the average American home remains fairly large, there are signs that downsizing may increase in the future.

Home Downsizing Trend: No More McMansions

The average American home has grown from under 1,900 square feet some 20 years ago to more than 2,400 square feet, according to 2013 U.S. Census data.

Families who bought five, ten, or even 15 years ago or more might find many rooms unused as their children have grown and moved out. While the Baby Boomers continue to hold on to many of those larger homes, according to recent reports, experts predict an uptick in downsizing as the oldest Boomers enter their mid-70s.

“We continue to move away from the McMansion chapter of residential design, with more demand for practicality throughout the home,” writes Kermit Baker, chief economist at the American Institute of Architects. “There has been a drop-off in the popularity of upscale property enhancements such as formal landscaping, decorative water features, tennis courts and gazebos.”

Large foyers are becoming a thing of the past. The formal living room is being replaced by a more flexible open plan, such as a large family room/breakfast nook/kitchen combination.

Downsizing Your Budget

For some homeowners, of course, downsizing is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. Many families are still digging out of the recession, which had an impact on home values, employment and retirement nest eggs invested in the stock market. A couple finding itself with a diminished income may simply be unable to keep up with mortgage payments and maintenance costs on a 2,800-square-foot home on a half-acre lot.

Still, the very idea of downsizing takes some getting used to—much less carrying out a downsizing plan. If you feel stuck, a home downsizing consultant can help you formulate a plan of action, appraise and sell belongings, and estimate how much money you stand to save.

Learning to Live With Less

Downsizing your home means a change in lifestyle and attitude. You may have to learn to live without a garage, that extra bathroom, and the basement storage where you tossed years’ worth of home goods, equipment and mementos. A smaller home can mean less room for guests and less opportunity for privacy.

As you consider downsizing, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you feel ready to live more simply?
  • Are you prepared to divest yourself of resources?
  • How many of the things you’ve accumulated over the years do you truly treasure?

Home downsizing is really about making do with less. But some people would say that less is more. Rather than devoting your time and energy to supporting and maintaining your home, you may find yourself devoting more of your time and energy to enjoying it.

Based on an earlier version by Ben Garson.

This article was published by  on realtor.com. See the original article here.

11 Terrifically Tiny Homes

It’s a trend that’s growing in popularity: Houses are shrinking.

© pickellarchitecture.com

© pickellarchitecture.com

Homeowners keen on paring down have started to learn how to pack essential functionality into less square-footage — much less — and they’re doing so with style.

1. Living in a Box

© poteetarchitects.com

© poteetarchitects.com

In San Antonio, Poteet Architects added doors, windows, a heating-cooling system and an innovative, “green” roof to a steel shipping container, ingeniously transforming a utilitarian unit into a cozy space for living. Bamboo floors and a cool wall covering bring the interior design to life. It’s small and modern, but undoubtedly a home.

2. Case study

© jhinteriordesign.com

© jhinteriordesign.com

To test the boundaries of small-footprint living, interior designer Jessica Helgerson moved her family to a 540-square-foot cottage that she designed 15 minutes north of Portland, Ore.

By using mostly reclaimed materials to construct her miniscule maison, and by adding a moss-and-fern green roof, Helgerson completed the project for less than money than she anticipated. The home requires little energy to heat and cool.

3. Self-sufficient

© alexscottporterdesign.com

© alexscottporterdesign.com

With a shed roof and corrugated siding, this off-the-grid cabin on an island off the New England coast runs on solar power. A rainwater tank and an instant hot-water heater provide drinking and bathing water, while rolling, exterior door panels protect the home in inclement weather.

It may be tiny, but this house can stand tall all on its own.

4. Hip to be square

© weehouse.com

© weehouse.com

This 784-square-foot design by Minnesota-based weeHouse features a bright blue exterior and a lively yellow interior. But its striking color palette is not the only reason that this little lodging stands out.

Constructed of two modules, the units seamlessly adjoin with the help of a large exterior porch; bug screens with magnetic catches keep insects at bay on summer nights.

5. Salvage beauty

© tinytexashouses.com

© tinytexashouses.com

Brad Kittel of Tiny Texas Houses believes there are already enough building products out there, so why buy new? His small structures use 99% salvaged materials, including doors, windows, siding, lumber, door hardware, flooring and porch posts.

6. DIY kit house

© jamaicacottageshop.com

© jamaicacottageshop.com

The folks at Jamaica Cottage Shop offer a kit for their 16-by-20-foot Vermont cottage, a “roll your own” residence that takes two people roughly 40 hours to construct.

The interior can be outfitted a number of ways, and a sleeping loft can be added for maximum efficiency.

7. Gather no moss

© tumbleweedhouses.com

© tumbleweedhouses.com

In only 65 square feet, the XS house from Tumbleweed Tiny House Co., profiled here, manages to squeeze in a bathroom, kitchen area, built-in desk and sofa, as well as a sleeping loft. It costs roughly $16 per square foot for a DIY version, $39 per square foot for the readymade version.

Built on a 7-by-10-foot utility trailer, the whole thing can be towed, making “home” anywhere you go.

8. Micro house

© relaxshacks.blogspot.com

© relaxshacks.blogspot.com

In Massachusetts, Derek Diedricksen applies a “can do’ attitude to tiny-house construction. Making creative use of household cast-offs, such as a broken, front-loading washing-machine door repurposed as a porthole, his tiny structures cost only about $200 each.

9. Modern mix

© ri-eg.com

© ri-eg.com

The Boxhome from architect Sami Rintala is just 205 square feet. Amazingly, there’s room inside for guests — the seating platform in the living room becomes a bed. Taking cues from Finnish summer houses and Japanese cooking traditions, the design offers a cultural mix.

10. Hidden treasure

Nestled in the woods in Hilverstum, Netherlands, this house was designed by Piet Hein Eek. It plays on the theme of traditional log cabins. Instead using notched-log beams, cross-cut sections make up the exterior, an aesthetic touch that helps this little getaway blend into its surroundings.

11. Victorian times

© myshabbystreamsidestudio.blogspot.com

© myshabbystreamsidestudio.blogspot.com

A former Catskills hunting cottage is remade in a romantic, Victorian style by owner Sandra Foster. Doing much of the carpentry work herself and using a variety of salvaged elements, she has created a cozy hideaway filled with books and lit by a crystal chandelier.

This article was originally published by Rebecca Thienes Cherny of BobVila.com on MSN Real Estate. To see the original article, click here.