Downsizing

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by Saphire, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. Saphire

    Saphire <font color=teal>Loves to hear good news<br><font

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    Now that our kids are grown and on their own we are thinking of selling the family home and downsizing. I would love to hear from people who have done the same and purchased a condo. Do the rules feel confining? Do you have enough space around you? Do you feel like people are watching you? Is the condo association a burden? These are just a few of my concerns. Please share your experiences. Thanks!
     
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  3. low-key

    low-key DIS Veteran

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    i thought about Condo for the future also, and have the same questions you do
     
  4. shinysparklybubbles

    shinysparklybubbles DIS Veteran

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    The kitty in your siggy is adorable! Love that the paws are crossed.
     
  5. Jillpie

    Jillpie Can you package some Main St. music and send it to

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    We did the opposite, we lived in a townhouse condominium as our three kids were babies for nine years, then moved into a single home. We loved it! If you went this route, I strongly recommend the townhouse units, where there is an upstairs, almost like a single family home. It gives you lots of space and privacy, alone time if you will. Did the rules feel confining...no, we just went along with any changes, they were pretty minor as we all moved into it brand new. You just get used to paying a monthly condo fee. Before deciding on buying, I'd take a walk around and chat with the residents as to whether they feel the association is well run or not, are they happy living there etc. Do we have enough space around you...Yes. We actually had three kids there, 2 bedrooms, and I never felt crowded. Now we moved into the single fam home just in time, the kids were outgrowing the condo, but it was great while we were there. Again, we had room to separate upstairs and down, that would be really important to me. Do I feel people are watching me... No. Everyone stayed to themselves and we had some nice neighbors. One of the BEST things about it, here in Ma., we had lots of snowstorms. All we had to do was clean off our cars and move them, the driveways were plowed for us, very nice. Is the condo assoc a burden.. No. They're there for a good reason, to govern and control costs. Again, talk to the residents, they'll be your best source of info. Would we do it again, yes!:thumbsup2 No hesitation. Good luck!
     
  6. mamajoan

    mamajoan <font color=red>gotta hobble ....silly goose!.

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    We are also starting the transition to downsizing. I have concerns regarding having enough "space" so the 4 kids and their families can continue to stay when they visit. We have a big house now 3900 + sq ft with a pool. I have tried to write down the things that are most important to having a new place.
    We are looking at what is called "villas" here in SWIL. One story duplex, tri or quad plexes.
    a two car garage is a must, as is a community pool, lawn care, 3br and min 2 bath.. 2br and a basement would work too.
    finding someplace that is in our price range is tough.
    I also think I may just not be ready to give up the big house yet. know what I mean?
    However no lawn care, no snow shoveling, and no pool care sure sounds mighty good to dh. :)

    I also think about the fact that when dh retires in 13 years that we might want to live someplace else... but who knows.

    Saphire I am glad you are asking similar questions that I have wandering around my brain.
     
  7. tvguy

    tvguy Question anything the facts don't support.

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    You really have to decide what is best for you. My mom has been in her 2,000 square foot house for 52 years now, the last 30 by herself. Way way too much house for her, however, it was right for her lifestyle. And she would have taken a beating on taxes if she had traded down to a Condo. We are in California, home of Prop 13, where the property taxes on her house are frozen at 1978 levels. If she bought a condo, the property taxes would thousands a year more than her house property taxes. Throw in association fees, it would have really crimped her lifestyle financial. Now, she did have some big up keep expenses, like a new roof every 25 years, but she had 25 years to save up.
     
  8. Darcy03231

    Darcy03231 DIS Veteran

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    We'll be there in the next 5-7 years and plan to sell our current home (3 level, 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath) and buy/build a smaller one level home (3 bdrm, 2 bath). We looked into condos and decided against them. With what we would spend in condo fees we can hire someone to do lawncare/snow removal. Friends downsized and went into a condo and within a year were hit with a special assessment of $4500 on top of their monthly condo fees of $300.
     
  9. The Mystery Machine

    The Mystery Machine Sunrise at my house. :+)

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    DH and I are on the fence about this as well.

    Downsizing to a condo would mean giving up a lot of things, material "stuff" as well as gardening and other stuff outdoors. Plus DH would have restrictions in his garage.

    I think we are going to go ranch house & finished basement. Time will tell, we have 2yrs to think on it.
     
  10. karen l

    karen l DIS Veteran

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    I made the transition to a condo, in July 2011. Move from a large home in Massachusetts to a townhouse condo in New Hampshire. My DH passed away in 2003 & my two oldest children moved out after graduating from college in 2008 & 2010. My youngest is a senior in high school so I wanted to make the change before he left for college. I love it & have zero regrets. No shoveling, yard work or worrying about the exterior maintenance. We have three levels & more than enough space. I purchased sleep sofas for two separate rooms for my two oldest to use when they come for a visit. No more huge heating bills, private deck & less worry. Very happy with my choice to downsize.
     
  11. MrsPete

    MrsPete DIS Veteran

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    My husband and I've been talking about this lately. We still have one child at home, so it's not a "right now" thing for us -- plus we love the location where we live, just not the house in which we live. Right now it's perfect because we're so close to both our works and her school, and right now our college daughter comes home for the summer.

    We figure in 2-3 years, however, we're going to sell this house and move into a condo /townhouse for the remainder of our working years. If we can find a place with two bedrooms, that'll do for our girls when they come home from college -- and in 2-3 years, our oldest'll be considering where she wants to work after college. She's been very clear on the fact that she's not moving home again after graduation.

    Anyway, I think we'll enjoy downsizing to a condo/townhouse, and that'll probably last 8-10 years (until we retire). At that point, we have land upon which we plan to build. I think a condo/townhouse will be exactly right for us in that empty nest stage, but I also suspect that when we retire we'll be just as glad to leave it. What works for you this year isn't necessarily right a decade from now.
     
  12. mcraige

    mcraige DIS Veteran

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    DD is a senior in HS, so we just downsized from a ~3,500 sq.ft. house to < 1,600 sq.ft. house and absolutely LOVE it. We've always been very close, and wonder why we up-sized in the first place. Of course, we had to get rid of a LOT of stuff, and now have a storage building for some keepsakes. All in all, it was the best move I have ever made.
     
  13. Lynne M

    Lynne M Moderator Moderator

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    The answers to all of these things are both yes and no, depending on the condominium you're talking about. There are tiny, cramped condos, and big, spacious ones. My condo is 1600 sq ft, which is bigger than my parents' house. Moving in to a unit like this one would be 'upsizing' for them.

    Some condos have good-sized yards, some have tiny balconies that you can barely fit two chairs on.

    Some have HOA rules that are hugely inconvenient, and rigidly enforced. Some don't.

    Some have very well managed HOAs that keep fees stable and plan maintenance in advance to avoid surprise assessments, some are a financial disaster area.

    The key is to do your research up front. At least in my state, when you make a formal offer on the unit, you get a big binder with all of the rules and bylaws, all of the financial information for the HOA, along with notice of any lawsuits against the HOA that could impact your HOA fees. You also get a period of time to review this information, and are allowed to get out of the deal and get your deposit back if you come across any dealbreakers.

    I can only speak for my own building, but here are my pros and cons. I live in a high rise, in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath unit. I don't feel cramped at all, but I moved here from a 1200 sq foot apartment. I have a good sized balcony (32 ft by 8 ft). The building is very well managed, with an established (40+ yr) HOA and building manager that does a great job of keeping expenses under control. There haven't been any assessments in years, and HOA fees have not gone up in 3 years. They plan big maintenance jobs (like the roof) 5 years in advance, so the capital budget is in good shape.

    One unexpected bonus I've found here is the power of group purchasing. Our HOA joins with the neighboring buildings to buy power at the commercial rate from our local utility. My electric bills are ridiculously low as a result, I'm saving at least $100 a month. The same with cable - we have a bulk package from Comcast, so full digital cable with all premium channels is included in my HOA fees. All I pay for is phone and internet. Again, saving me about $100 a month. Sewer, garbage pickup, landscaping and snow removal costs are also shared by the three buildings here, and included in my HOA fees, and I'm sure I pay far less for those than I would as a single family homeowner.

    The downside? If you're not used to living in multi-unit dwellings, you may be bothered by having neighbors so close. In a building like this, you can hear voices in the hallway, you can hear your neighbor's door slam sometimes. The occasional footsteps from upstairs.
     
  14. Lynne M

    Lynne M Moderator Moderator

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    Ooops, forgot to answer the "are people watching you" question. I'm not sure if you're referring to nosy neighbors or the HOA; since you can have snoopy neighbors even while living in a single family home, I'm guessing you mean the HOA.

    I've found that most HOA rules are geared towards preserving everyone's property values, or keeping the environment safe and pleasant for everyone. So, you'll see rules about not painting the exterior of your unit without HOA permission. You don't want one unit with lime green walls when everything else is grey. Or, rules prohibiting running your washer, dryer, dishwasher, vacuum after 11 PM.

    In my building, the maintenance supervisor has to approve any big renovations, and any contractors have to be licensed and insured. That's a safety thing; you don't want anyone messing with load-bearing walls, and you don't want some guy with no clue messing with the electrical wiring.

    I don't know if any of that qualifies as 'watching you', but it's just part of living in a multi-unit dwelling, where what you do can negatively affect your neighbors.
     
  15. DebbieB

    DebbieB DIS Veteran

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    I just moved from a single family house to a townhouse. My HOA is strict about the outside appearance. You have to request approval for any change to the outside, including painting (there's an approved color chart). Only white or off white curtains that can be seen outside. No flags other than the American flag. No signs except real estate for sale, sports signs are only allowed if the team is in the playoffs. At first it seemed a little "Stepford" but I can see the point. I love that I don't have to worry about yard work now.

    Regarding people watching you, I have been a little surprised with that. After I closed, I didn't actually move in for a month. I was busy getting stuff at my old house cleaned out to get ready for the move. I did stop over every couple of days to bring stuff in. One day my neighbor came over to introduce herself and she said the mailman mentioned that I wasn't picking up my mail everyday (we have a bank of mailboxes in the middle of the block). Wow, I thought. In a way it's good, I'm single and it's good to know people are watching out for me. Like I wasn't concerned leaving the house for a week to go to Disneyland, I mentioned it to my neighbors on both sides and left my cellphone #.
     
  16. motherhen17404

    motherhen17404 Mouseketeer

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    We just finished our downsizing. In our case we went from a 3,000sf 4 bedroom, 2 car garage single family home with a huge yard to a 1,800sf 3 bedroom, 1 car garage rental townhome/condo.

    At first when we were talking about downsizing I got so upset whenever hubby wanted to talk about it. But when our son (only child) moved out of the house I started thinking about living in the house without him. It was just too hard to live in that big empty nest. So we started talking about what we would need to be comfortable. Then started thinking about buying or renting. We chose to rent at first to see if this size house would fit us. If it turned out we needed more space I didn't want to be stuck owing something that didn't suit. The townhouse we rented turned out to have everything we needed. The kitchen is more updated then my old home was. I lost a formal living room and dining room and 1 bedroom, but we were not using them anyway. I did gain a sunroom that we use every day, so for us that was a plus. I did have to get rid of a lot of stuff. More junk really. We sold off all of our yard equipment and most of hubby's tools because we would not need them anymore. And I did end up having to buy some new furniture because some of my old stuff would not fit, but that is a plus for me!

    We have been here for a month now, and we are really enjoying the new space. Love not having to do all that yard work, mowing, mulching, snow removal, all the "fun" homeowner stuff. We signed a 2 year lease so after the 2 years we may decide to buy something then, but for now we are happy.
     
  17. Micca

    Micca Where there's a will, there's an heir

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    We moved from a big house (2 storey with finished basement and storage in a walk-up attic) to a condo. We go rid of most of the crap from the attic that we hadn't used in years, and some furniture. We had a yard sale and got rid of a lot of stuff like kids clothes and other random things (unusued lamps).
    We still had quite a bit of stuff, but found a wonderful 3 bedroom condo(and a room in the finished basement that could have been another bedroom. Our front lawn was postage stamp size, but the back was shared with several other units and backed up to a tree-lined creek that stretched out approximately 3 blocks (nobody had fenced back yard). It was absolutely perfect!
    One thing that worked well for us was being attached to the neighbors by the garages(our garage was next to their garage). This completely eliminated any noise issues. We loved the neighbors we knew, and always waved when the passing the ones we didn't know. If the HOA was strict, it had no effect on us as we never had any trouble.

    We had to move again this year and just couldn't find a similar condo in our new city, so we're back in a house with similar square footage as the condo.
    We'd totally go back to a condo with the sufficient square footage.:)
     
  18. mnrose

    mnrose Queen of all she surveys

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    We purchased a home in an HOA community about 4 years ago. The association manages the lawn work and snow removal, and I must say, that this is very nice! No shoveling or mowing. Although our home is in an association, it is a single family home....so no common walls. We are responsible for the general maintenance of the home, but personally, I prefer this. Most of the owners in our HOA are empty nesters, who downsized to these homes. While my home has an upstairs and a downstairs, it is designed for single level living...so, as we age, we will not have to go downstairs unless we want to do so. All living facilities we need are on the main level with no stairs. This is something to think about too. None of us are getting younger, and I know many people who are older and just can't manage stairs the way they used to.

    I don't see myself ever living in a "common walled" association. That would be too much for me. But, I do like the benefits of an association for some purposes. These sorts of "villa" communities are increasingly popular for a reason.
     

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