True confession. The “wisdom” I’m sharing in this blog article was gained through personal experience. My pain, hopefully, means your gain. Once our girls were both college age, hubby Tony and I decided we should “downsize.” This also corresponded to an ill-timed (due to the unforeseen economic downturn) real estate purchase. Yep, we bought in 2007.

We were soon to be newlyweds and we had found our dream home — a gorgeous 1918 craftsman in the Hollywood neighborhood in NE Portland. Oh, how we loved this house. With its classic front porch, charming neighborhood and equally delightful neighbors, beautifully remodeled kitchen, gorgeous hardwoods, box beam ceilings, and lots and lots of light, we were in seventh heaven. However, it was the peak of a crazy seller’s market, and, moreover, we got emotionally involved. A disastrous combination for sure — our dream house was significantly more than what we had agreed we’d be willing to pay. And then the economy went boom, and, well, we panicked. So we downsized. I mean we really downsized. We found a well-designed brand new 2000 SF townhouse that, at first, seemed just the ticket. Ultimately, though the townhouse was quite lovely and had a spacious interior, we found the yard was just too small, and I was missing my light, which from now on will be at the very top of my “must have” list when house shopping.

So we remedied that. We bought a 1941 daylight ranch on the west side with a stunning yard. A half acre, no less. We had now upsized. 

All that being said, the moral of this long and drawn out story, is don’t just downsize, “rightsize.” You still must, must, must have that all important list of “must haves.” For me, that means lots of windows and light, original architectural character or beauty (even if it needs a little elbow grease), and a lovely, but manageable, outdoor living space. We now have more than we need. But we’re cooling our jets and staying. It’s a lovely place, even if we feel sometimes we may have bitten off more than intended.

So, my advice — make sure you are crystal clear on why you are downsizing. Write it down. What are the pros and cons? Make sure this is a move that will suit you in the longer term. Is there a good reason you should just stay where you are? And if so, is there a way to do it? And if selling your house and moving into a new home is the right decision for the right reasons, then right size. Create three lists. The first includes the “must have’s” for you to be happy in your new home. This list can be short, but the items on it should be non-negotiable. One of those items might be financially based, but also think about living in the space, how you intend to use it, who might come to visit (and stay!), and so on, and make sure you hold true to the items on this list. The second list is more of a wish list and the items on it are negotiable. It includes what would you would really like to have in addition to those all important must haves. The third list consists of the non-negotiable “must not have’s”. For me, that would have included too small a lot and too little light. For others, it’s a quiet little street where my kiddos are safer. If you’d like advice, or a bit of coaching, call me. I’d love to help.

Stacy Butchart