Downsizing Your Home? Beware This Hidden Cost

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  • It pays to look at downsizing when you're an empty nester or money has gotten tight.
  • While downsizing could save you money, it could also open you up to one added expense.
  • You may have to pay for a storage unit if you're not able to part with all the belongings that won't fit in your new smaller home. 

Don't let it catch you off-guard.

The decision to downsize a home isn't an easy one. If you've lived in your home for a long time, you've probably built many memories there. And packing up and moving to a new place can be a tough thing to do emotionally.

Plus, it can be difficult to let go of living space. You may not need all of the square footage you have right now, but parting with it can still be a blow.

But if you're in a situation where you're struggling to afford your mortgage, or if you're an empty nester, then it may be time to consider downsizing. Doing so could mean lowering your costs, and also, saving yourself a lot of time on upkeep and repairs. 

If you're going to downsize, though, it's important to be aware of the hidden costs involved. And one particular expense might really throw your finances for a loop.

Where's all of your stuff going to go?

You may be willing to shed some square footage and live in a smaller home than the one you're used to. But what about all of the stuff you've accumulated through the years? 

Maybe you're willing to get rid of it -- say, donate it to charity or pass items in good condition along to people who could benefit from them. But if you're not ready to part with your belongings, then you'll need to prepare to pay for a place to store them. And that could get expensive.

The average cost to rent a storage unit is $190 per month, says However, your costs may be higher depending on your location and the amount of items you're looking to store.

Let's say you're in a situation where you're downsizing not because you're retired and your kids have grown up and moved out, but because money has gotten tight and you need to trim expenses for a number of years. In that case, you don't necessarily want to part with your furniture. But you may end up having a lot of items to store while you live in a smaller home for a few years. And that's an expense you'll need to factor into your budget.

Other costs to consider

Many people downsize with the goal of saving money. But in addition to paying for storage, you may have to grapple with the cost of hiring movers. Granted, that's a one-time expense, whereas storage might be an ongoing one. But the cost of a single move could equal or even exceed a year's worth of storage costs, and that's something to be mindful of.

Downsizing could also mean moving someplace where you no longer have a dedicated parking spot -- such as if you move from a single-family home to a condo with no parking lot or garage. So that's another expense you'll need to consider.

All told, downsizing could mean spending less on housing. But hidden costs could eat into your savings, and it's important to be aware of what those might entail.

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