For years, you have tried to make your small apartment a comfortable space to live in. Now that you are moving to a house in the suburbs with a lot of extra space, how do you adjust?
Downsizing can be tricky, whether it’s moving into a smaller space or consolidating your two apartments into one—but upsizing from your city apartment to a suburban house can be equally tough for families. You’ve spent years, most likely, creating a small-space haven, complete with creative storage solutions, organization tricks and plenty of multi-purpose furniture and nooks (an “alcove” makes a great baby room, right?). But now, with a few extra bedrooms, a backyard and even an additional floor or two, it’s time to scale up to fill your new digs—because what feels jam-packed in a few hundred square feet won’t even begin to make a dent in your new space. Here’s what to do to prepare:
- Take time to inventory everything—and think about where it lives now versus where it could live. That old coffee table might not be making an appearance in your new living room, but it could be great in a family room or den, as a kid’s coloring station. And, remember, you’ll have some extra space so if you’re on the fence, pack it up. An old piece could look completely different once you’re in the new house.
- Those “no” pieces—could they be rehabbed? Could a coat of paint, refinishing or reupholstering change your mind about an old table, chair or sofa?
- Decide what you’ll set aside for new home furnishings and décor. TheNest.com recommends setting aside 40% of your disposable income during the first few months, specifically for that purpose. And in that vein, remember you don’t need every single picture frame, throw pillow or dish on day 1—your home should be a work in progress, growing and changing with your family for years or even decades to come. That doesn’t happen overnight.
- Remember, lighting a house is very different than lighting an apartment. Chances are, your apartment has a few built-in lighting fixtures that are what they are—but not so once you buy that house. Most homes come with builder- or prior owner-selected chandeliers and flush mounts which, though they may seem like integral parts of the room, can be easily swapped out. What’s more, most new buyers can tackle that kind of project on their own, without any prior DIY or electrical experience.
- Think about your outdoor space, and how you’ll handle. Are you planning to hire landscapers? Hire the kid down the street to mow the lawn every week? Or are you going to do all—or some—of it yourself? If you’re planning to some or all of the gardening and general lawn maintenance solo, be sure you’re got the essential tools, be it a mower, hedge clippers, rakes, shovels, a hose, sprinkler and fertilizer, among other key pieces. Now—late fall/early winter—is a great time to stock up.
- Same goes for cold weather maintenance—will you need a snow blower or, at the very least, a few shovels for those snowy weekday mornings?
- Even if you aren’t the handiest, your building super isn’t coming with you to the ‘burbs—you, at the very least, need a basic tool kit including a hammer, tape measure, screwdrivers, vice grips, wire cutters, utility knife, drill bit set/power drill and stud finder, plus a fire extinguisher or two.
- Give some thought to home security, as that’s likely something you’ll want from the get-go. Be it alarms, home automation or monitoring services, be sure that’s at the top of your must-have list, pre-move.
Upsizing can be stressful, but it’s also a lot of fun! Enjoy this time as you set the tone for your family, now and in the future.