With Baby Boomers entering their senior years, ,we hear a lot about people downsizing their homes in the media, but not a lot about upsizing. For young families, however, upsizing may be the number one thing on their minds. Whether youre expecting your first child or already proclaimed to be done!, you are likely looking at your current living situation and wondering how you can create more space for your family. While a short-term solution is clearing out the clutter, for many, the long-term plan involves moving to a larger home. Here are a few things to consider as you navigate this huge decision.
Too little space or too much stuff?
Although moving to a bigger house may seem like the easy way out, take the time to assess the needs of each person in the family and what may be causing you to feel like you dont have enough space in your current home. If your kids are past the toddler stage and youre not planning to have any more, clear out all the baby gear, toys, and clothes. You could sell it online or donate it to friends, family, or charity. Youll be amazed at how much space you can free up. The same idea goes for anything you no longer use, or will never get around to using. If you havent worn certain clothes in a year, its time for them to go. Free up your closet space. Perhaps the furniture in your home that you chose (or inherited) years ago is too oversized for your space, making it seem smaller than it is. Trade up for some new, contemporary, right-sized pieces and love your space again! Although this task seems daunting, think of it this wayif you dont sort through and purge your things now, youll be packing and moving them anyways, so you might as well purge as you go! And starting room by room is a good way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed.
Upsizing your debt
Im not a financial advisor, but I urge you to talk to someone if youre looking to take on additional debt in order to upsize your home. Acquiring more space may relieve stress, but if youre not in a financial position to do so, a whole different kind of stress will surface. Between saving for your childrens education, your retirement, funding your day-to-day lives and your kids endless extracurricular activities, you dont want to stretch yourself too thin. And dont forget that a larger home means an increase in all of your costs, like utilities, property taxes, maintenance, additional furnishings and decor, etc., so take into account the full cost before you take the plunge.
Getting the best value out of your home
If youve made the decision that upsizing is the next move for you, then congratulations! Buying a new home that will meet all of your familys needs can be very exciting. The process will be that much easier if you maximize the value of your current home in order to sell it for as much as possible. If youve outgrown your home, make sure that it looks spacious to potential buyers. One of the top things buyers are looking for is storage, so if thats one of your reasons for moving, again, make sure to pare down your belongings and de-clutter. Here are a few tips on how to do this:
a. Pack away off-season clothes/items (e.g. winter clothes and sporting equipment if its spring or summer) and make sure to label your bins/boxes so you can easily find your items later on.
b. Use organizers (shelves, bins, hooks, baskets, etc.) in your storage areas to maximize the space
c. Have a garage sale
d. Sell your higher-ticket items online * Pink & Blue Mag has a market section you can post your items as well just email email@example.com (e.g. kijiji.ca, craigslist.ca) or at consignment stores like X-Toggery or Once Upon a Child you will get more money than at a garage sale
e. Donate items
f. Put some things in storage (rented or at a friend/family members) until you sell your home
Finding the Perfect Home
Okay, so the first lesson is that there is no such thing as The Perfect Home, unless you are building a custom home and even then youll probably still wish you had done certain things differently in hindsight! Assuming you are upsizing because youve outgrown your current space, there are certain things that you should look for in your new home to ensure you dont end up in a similar situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
a. Know your needs. Walk through your current space and make a wish list. For exampleI wish my laundry room was larger, I wish my kids had separate bathrooms, I wish I had more storage space in the kitchen, etc. This list should address all of the problem areas, and therefore be the basis for your wish list for your new home.
b. Is bigger really better? More square footage wont necessarily help you if the layout is all wrong. Make sure the layout fits the needs of your family so that each space can function efficiently and there is no or minimal dead space.
c. Dont be romanced by high end finishes! Again, if a home is beautifully finished, thats wonderful, but if there is no storage for all of the things your other home couldnt handle, then youre back where you started. Make sure to always refer to your wish list. Buying a home is a very emotional process, but you have to be rational at the same time. If you tend to be emotional and your partner is more rational, consider it a great balance for house shopping. If youre both emotional, consider bringing someone along that knows you well but is more logical.
d. Consider the future. Is this a five year house or a ten year house? When you are house hunting, although your current needs are extremely important, think down the road as well and consider the future needs of your family. For example, your young children may be sharing a room now, but if youre planning on making this their family home for life, consider that they may want their own space. This could be an easy fix if your new home has extra bedrooms in the basement, or unfinished space that could be renovated. Also consider that as your children get older, they may need designated quiet study spaces, so if their bedrooms are not big enough for a desk, make sure there will be somewhere in the home they can use for homework, studying, etc.
e. Hire a professional. Although you know yourself best and know whats best for your family, a real estate agent can help you find a home that will fit all of your needs and negotiate the best deal on your behalf. They have better access to more information on whats available in the market and the proper value of those properties. They are also the experts on the selling/buying process and will make sure you dont skip any critical steps. And lets face it, youve got kids to look after, and may also be working a full-time job, so unless you have super powers, you probably dont have the time to scour websites, listings, analyse the real estate market and coordinate your own showings and open houses while managing your household.
Still thinking of upsizing? Just remember to consider whether or not it is your stuff that has outgrown your space or is it the people, know whether or not you can afford to upsize, make your home appealing to the prospective buyer of your home (keeping in mind that storage is important), know what you want and need in a new home, dont be fooled by square footage and glamorous décor if a home doesnt meet your underlying needs, and reach out to relevant professionals (financial advisors, real estate agents, home organizers and home stagers, etc.). Good luck in your bigger and better spaces!
Have a question? Feel free to contact me at info@SpaceStyle.ca.By: Erin Lazer, MBA, CSPHome Stager and Professional Organizer