How to Downsize Without Leaving Your Home

Home downsizing means different things to different people. It may involve selling your current house and buying a smaller property, or simplifying life in your present residence. The most common reason for wanting to downsize is a change in your family situation. However, empty nest syndrome, divorce or widowhood is a challenging experience in its own right, without the additional trauma of leaving your familiar home and neighborhood. Think about the possibility of downsizing without leaving your current home. Here are practical steps you can take.


Decluttering is an excellent starting point. No matter what your plans for the future may be, a streamlined, organized home will help take you in the right direction. Paring down your possessions can help you see this new stage in life as an adventure. It will also spare your heirs the hassle and emotional strain of taking care of this task once you are no longer able.

If you do not have the time or emotional resources to sort out trash from treasure yourself, ask your children for assistance or find a professional home organizer. Holding a garage sale is a time-honored method of repurposing reusable possessions, but be sure to get an expert appraisal of any items that may be valuable. Recycle any non-saleable objects; in a municipality that does not provide pick-up for bulk recycling, you may wish to hire a private haulage service.


When you require fewer bedrooms or a smaller overall space, the universe may be handing you an opportunity to create the home that you’ve always wanted.

Transform a bedroom into the home office, hobby room or entertainment center of your dreams – or even all three. One caution: when a multifunction area will be doubling as a guest room, balance your needs with those of your prospective guests. For example, small grandchildren and expensive electronics do not mix well.

Similarly, you can reconfigure your main living area. Unite your dining and living rooms into one “great room” if you prefer that layout. You’ll no longer have to worry about containing noise and clutter from various family members’ activities. If your plans include less time preparing meals, part of your kitchen could become a separate laundry or mudroom.

One caution: Should your current downsizing be just a step along the path to eventually selling your house and purchasing a smaller home, avoid any highly personalized remodeling work that might limit resale value.

Age in Place

This might be a good time to get ready to age in place, especially if you live in a mild climate like Southern California’s. While you are already making renovations, you may ask your Anaheim contractor to install senior-friendly features such as safety bars in the shower, a toilet with elevated seat, a medical alert system or sturdy railings on both sides of your staircase (or better yet, an in-home escalator).

On a larger scale, building a ground floor bedroom and wider doorways to accommodate a wheelchair will accommodate you or your spouse in case of decreased mobility.

Earn Extra Income

Lifestyle change, especially losing a spouse, often means a drop in income. Try to recognize the moneymaking potential of your home.

Renting out a newly vacant bedroom to a student offers additional income. If you’d like more privacy, remodel your basement, your attic or that bonus room over the garage as a rental unit. All of these should have private access; basement living quarters are required by law to have strictly defined egress via a window or exterior door.

Another moneymaking option is to build a fashionable, resource-efficient tiny house of 500 square feet or less in your yard to rent out. Check local zoning laws before proceeding and make sure your contractor pulls the necessary permits.

By Laura Firszt, Networx.

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Dianne D.
Dianne D.2 months ago

things to think about

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Croweabout a year ago

My husband wants to move to one of those condos for older people. I don't. We are 61 &n 63!
I love our house, but it IS a lot to take care of. I have a bad case of neuropathy in my feet and a heart condition, so I can't do as much as I used to! I want to have a big yard sale and declutter, but I have no clue where to start.

Jana DiCarlo
Jana DiCarloabout a year ago

great ideas - now I just have to convince my mom to do at least one of them :P

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

thanks for the ideas

Antonia Kyprianou
Antonia Kypabout a year ago

Thanks for the tips

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vagaabout a year ago


Beba H.
Beba h.about a year ago

Good ideas---I like the idea of adding a tiny house in your backyard. You could also make it an art studio or outdoor sanctuary. A home away from home to relax and de-stress.

Lis T.
Elisabeth T.about a year ago

Good article, thanks for sharing.

Jana DiCarlo
Jana DiCarloabout a year ago

decluttering is what most pple need - at least from my observation.

I tried to convince my mom to rent out the basement, and now a suite above the garage - but older people get cantankerous....and stubborn.

Donna F.
Donna F.about a year ago