Thom and I are fortunate to be spending July in the coastal community of Ventura. As some of you know, where we live the majority of the year the temperature during the summer fluctuates between 110 and 120 degrees. Meanwhile, here near the beach, we are relishing the cool coastal breezes without air-conditioning. This will be our 7th year of escaping the heat, yet we constantly hear people say, “Oh, I sure wish we could do that.” Or, “ I’d give anything to do that.” But the truth is, even those who could do it, won’t. That’s because in many cases they are attached to a big house and often a big lifestyle that keeps them stuck even when they say they’d prefer otherwise. With that in mind, I came up with ten reasons why we all might want to reconsider owning a too-big house, and instead embrace a more rightsized life.
Those of you who have read my book, Rightsizing—A SMART Living Guide to Reinventing Retirement know that eight years ago Thom and I made a significant choice. At the time we were living in our “dream home.” Okay, maybe not the biggest house we’d ever dreamed of, but one that was much larger with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a three-car garage, and lovely landscaped yard with a pool and spa. The bathroom was as big as the bedroom with a walk-in shower and a large Jacuzzi tub. It was the nicest (and most expensive home) we’d ever lived in up until that time. Fortunately, the loan against it wasn’t a burden, but with taxes and insurance, it was over $2K a month just to live there.
However, after watching the value of our house skyrocket in less than two years we stopped and asked ourselves, “What is going on—and how can this possibly be sustainable?” We knew dozens of people making far less income than us who continued to buy bigger and more expensive homes all around us like there was no tomorrow. With our real estate background, we spotted the train wreck enough in advance to know it could not last. Eventually, we put our house on the market and prepared for the inevitable downslide in the market.
Fast forward 8 years and we now believe that shift was the best thing that could have happened to us. Recognizing that even though we thought we wanted and deserved that nice bigger home, we didn’t really need it that much at all. We can now clearly see that taking the time to come to some deeper understanding about what really mattered to us both, we could freely choose what was “right” for us. So, here are the ten realizations we found on our road to rightsizing.