Author Topic: Experiences downsizing with a large family?  (Read 4143 times)

FrozenAssets

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Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« on: November 24, 2015, 02:26:31 PM »
We're considering moving our family of 6 from a 2400 sf 4b/2ba to <1500sf 3/4b/1.5ba.  We could potentially use the equity in our current home to pay off the mortgage on a smaller home in 5 years or less, to coincide with our oldest son starting college.  I'd like to hear pros and cons from people who have moved large families into smaller homes.

If you've downsized, are you happy with the decision, and what were the positives and negatives?  Anything surprising along the way?  Was it worth it?

tct

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Re: Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2015, 01:23:18 PM »
I'm in the same boat, debating the same decision(s). I'm hesitant to lose $30k in commissions selling my home only to regret it a short time later. Curious to hear others experiences.

Cassie

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Re: Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2015, 01:54:47 PM »
WE were a family of 5 that happily lived in 1500 sq ft when our kids were home. Also as they go to college they are home a lot less, etc & it sounds like you will be in that position in 5 years.

crispy

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Re: Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2015, 02:54:48 PM »
We only have two children, but we just downsized from 2700sf to 1500sf so we could pay off the mortgage quickly and because we were wasting a ton of space.  We are in the process of finishing off a playroom, but that is more to up the property value than a need for space. We moved in August and have no regrets so far.  We truly don't miss the square footage that we lost although I will say that two bathrooms were on my "must-have" list.

We actually considered doing this for two years and spend a lot of time looking for the right house (our must haves were same school zone, big yard, two bathrooms, three bedrooms, separate laundry room, big pantry) at the right price (under 200K).  The price point made it really hard to find and any house in that range tends to get snapped up in a matter of hours.   I ended spotting the for sale within hours of it going on the market.  Fortunately, it was over a holiday weekend so not much traffic, and we were able to get it.  We got a great price and will spend about 25K on renovations (updated bathrooms and finishing out the bonus room).

All told this move knocked off 100K in  mortgage debt and we are saving big on utilities, property taxes, and on not having an HOA.

Take your time to figure out what you need and take your time to find out. We had a contract on another house several months prior to buying this one that fell through, and we are very thankful for that.  In retrospect, we were more attracted to the price than the actual house.  We ended up paying less for this house, but have a much bigger yard (over an acre), it's completely brick, and there was expansion space for the playroom. 

use2betrix

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Re: Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2015, 04:16:46 PM »
I feel pretty strongly that unless a family is in dire need, it's important for children in high school to have their own bedroom. I can understand for younger kids but high school years can be hard and space is important in my opinion.

MerryMcQ

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Re: Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2015, 06:18:50 PM »
We downsized from a 3,000 sqft 5bd/3ba home on a 1/3 acre lot to a 1,400 3bd/1.5ba home on a normal sized lot. We have 2 kids (ages 11 & 13). We also moved to a new state (from San Diego to Washington). Mostly we did this because I had a serious illness last year and lost my hearing, and am unlikely to return to full-time employment anytime soon.

On the positive side:
  • We paid off our mortgage, completely. Yea!
  • It takes about an hour to clean the entire place, including washing windows. It used to take me an hour just to vacuum the previous house.
  • We spend more time together, in the single living room, instead of having 3 livingrooms and being all spread out. (As a side note, having everyone closer together makes it much easier for the kids to remember not to talk to me from 3 rooms away, when I can't hear them...)
  • We downsized our possessions as well and having less stuff is so very freeing. Things stay much more tidy, because even a few items out of place look messy - and are easy to pick up. 
  • The cat has gotten used to sleeping within a foot or two of the dog and the dog has given up chasing the cat.
  • I can find everything in the house, as there is limited storage, so I don't spend 30 minutes trying to hunt down the extra batteries.
  • No room for house guests to stay the night.
  • Folks who see our house assume we must be of very modest means (or flat-out poor) so we're not pressured into the spending games anymore.
  • And did I mention, no mortgage???
       

On the not-so-positive side:

  • 1 shower, 1 small water-heater, four people. We have to schedule showers. And significantly limit shower/bathroom time. (Boys get 5 minute shower, girls get 10...) We have a 1/2 bathroom upstairs in our bedroom. I think having that extra toilet makes life much, much easier. Especially with a teen girl in the house.
  • Kitchen is tiny, so you can't have more than 2 people in it at a time.
  • Furniture didn't fit well in the new space, especially the living room. TV is now in a closet in our room because the living room just doesn't have space without feeling overcrowded.
  • Having a few of the kids' friends over makes the house seem soooo crowded. No more big holiday parties.
  • Kids/Spouse complain of hearing each other (like loud TV, computer games, etc) from bedrooms - no space to spread out. A lot less privacy.
   

Because we moved from a great climate (San Diego) to a colder climate, I don't think we'll see any savings on utilities. Likewise with taxes; we moved from a very low property tax area to a high property tax area. But if you were staying in the same location, a smaller house means lower utilities, lower maintenance costs (it takes less paint to paint it, less material to re-roof it, etc), and lower taxes, generally. We have a boy & a girl, so they don't share a bedroom. But I would have no qualms about having teens of the same gender share a room, or younger kids of either gender share a room. If I had 2 boys or 2 girls, we'd have probably gotten a 2 bedroom house and gone even smaller. :)

Overall, I wish we'd done this years and years ago! We all love our little house.

FrozenAssets

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Re: Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2015, 10:57:29 AM »
Thank you for your encouraging responses!

We made the leap and are under contract to buy a 1330 sq.ft. (per side) duplex.  It's on an acre (yay! should be a huge change from our current tiny city lot!) with a 720 sq. ft. light and bright heated garage.  I'm purging and nothing is off limits as we look around and determine what we really need to take with us.  :)

ohana

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Re: Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2015, 11:07:55 AM »
Wonderful! 

madamwitty

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Re: Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2015, 11:53:35 AM »
Very cool! Are you going to rent out the other side of the duplex?

FrozenAssets

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Re: Experiences downsizing with a large family?
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2015, 12:25:15 PM »
Very cool! Are you going to rent out the other side of the duplex?

Yes!  It's already occupied, with a lease expiring in April.