The Ultimate Guide to Downsizing Your Home

The dining room and living room of a home on Canyon Road, Santa Fe

The numbers don’t lie: Every day thousands of baby boomers turn 65. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 10,000 baby boomers will reach age 65 every day until 2029.


Downsizing is a hot topic for many of these retirees and pre-retirees. One recent Merrill Lynch survey of retirees showed that 51 percent of those who moved chose a smaller home.


If you share the goal of downsizing to a smaller home, you may be facing a number of questions about where and how to downsize. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest questions.


Where to Downsize: Type of Home and Location

Deciding where to downsize is a question with two broad aspects. The “where” question touches on the type of home as well as the location. Regarding type of home, will you downsize to a single-family home, a condo, or a townhouse? Regarding location, will you downsize to a different community or neighborhood in Santa Fe?


Let’s take a look at some pros and cons surrounding the type of home. Then we’ll look at some suggestions for how to make the decision about your downsizing location.


Pros and Cons of a Downsized Single-Family Home



  • Single-family homes offer more privacy and typically fewer regulations than condos or townhouses.
  • Single-family homes come with a lot that you own and can landscape the way you want.



  • A single-family home puts the burden of maintenance on the homeowner. While a condo comes with a homeowners’ association fee that covers exterior maintenance, the single-family homeowner takes responsibility for all maintenance, inside and out.


Pros and Cons of a Downsized Condo or Townhouse



  • One of the major benefits of downsizing to a condo or a townhouse is less home maintenance. HOA fees typically go toward landscaping, exterior maintenance, snow removal, and upkeep of any condo amenities such as pools, tennis courts, and fitness centers.
  • Homeowners can enjoy those just-mentioned amenities such as pools, tennis courts, and fitness centers.
  • Condos can be in gated communities, adding to peace of mind for homeowners who travel.



  • Condos and townhouses typically come with homeowners’ association (HOA) fees. HOA fees vary depending on the size of the development and the type of community amenities.
  • Condos may have less privacy than single-family homes. This depends on the specific property.
  • A condo or townhouse typically offers less storage space than a single-family home. This can vary from property to property.


A view of the pool at the Reserve condo community in Santa Fe, New MexicoTips for Deciding Where to Downsize

Whether you’re a downsizer who already lives in Santa Fe or plans to move here, do some on-the-ground research to help you decide your downsizing location. Your needs and preference will go a long way toward helping you create a list of downsizing criteria. You might consider the following:


  • Distance to downtown
  • Access to medical care
  • Access to recreational activities
  • Access to restaurants and entertainment
  • Access to necessities like grocery stores and shopping


You should do some homework to determine the type of downsized home you want, too. Here’s where it helps to visit different property types as part of your research. Let’s say you’ve lived in your single-family home for a long time. Is a condo the right type of downsized home for you? How much do you know about the condos in your area? Doing some open house visits will educate you and inform your preferences.


Determine your downsizing homebuying criteria to save you time and energy during your search process. You can also use our Ultimate Empty Nester Homebuying Checklist to help you. Give your criteria to your Barker Realty agent to help him or her find homes that meet your needs.


How to Downsize: Tips for Downsizing Your Home

Downsizing is all about location and type of home, but timing is another key factor when moving from one home to another. Your financial situation is another important factor. You may need to sell your current home before you buy a downsized home. You may or may not need a mortgage. You will, however, need to move from one home to another and this will require you to sell your current home.


Before you put your home on the market, you can take steps to help ensure a successful sale. Here are some steps to consider:


1. Evaluate your current home and determine what repairs and updates are needed. Your real estate agent can help you identify improvements likely to attract buyers and bring the highest return on investment.


2. Make your home improvements. Focus on the items you’ve identified in Step 1.


3. Improve the landscaping. Focus on changes that create low maintenance for prospective buyers.


4. Downsize your possessions. Chances are you will need to downsize your belongings before you move to a smaller home. Your downsized home may have less space, including storage space. Downsizing household belongings can seem like an overwhelming task. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the process. Determine which items you’ll move to your new home. Sell, donate, or recycle the rest. If you plan to pass down family items, make sure your loved ones want them.


A row of coats neatly hung in a closetResources for Downsizing Household Belongings

Paring down household belongings is no small task. For most of us, the longer we live in our homes, the more we accumulate. Storage spaces and closets tend to fill up over the years with items we keep but no longer use. Fortunately, there are a wealth of resources designed to help people downsize their belongings. Here are a few of our favorite online resources:


How to Declutter and Downsize Your Home Effectively
This article from Money Crashers highlights nine can’t-skip steps for downsizing.


5 Tips to Downsize Your Home Painlessly
This advice from Next Avenue applies once you’ve decided on a downsized home.


How to Downsize Your Home Without Losing Your Mind offers its method for moving from a large home to a smaller space.


Downsizing? Ditch These Items
AARP suggests offloading such items as superfluous furniture, clothing, books, and holiday decorations.


10 Things You Need To Discard To Downsize Your Life Space outlines 10 types of household goods to discard or pare down before you downsize.


The more you know about what you want in a downsized life, the better equipped you’ll be to complete the downsizing process. Our Barker Realty team can help you end to end, from putting your current house on the market to helping you navigate the purchase of your downsized home.