We Downsized Our House and Our Bills, and This Is What We Learned

We finally did it. After years of thinking about selling our house and downsizing all our bills, we put the sign in the yard and found ourselves a new neighborhood. We downsized.

Do people think we’re crazy? Yes, most of them do, although everyone has been too polite to say this out loud.

Do we think we’re crazy? Yes, a little bit. It depends on the day and the exact struggle. I mean, we traded a five-year old house in a tidy new subdivision for an eighty-five year old house in a well-established, slightly grittier part of town.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, is all I’m saying. If you have this nagging desire to pay off debt or lower your property tax bill or have less house to clean, here’s what we learned.

Lesson 1: There is always a trade off. Always.

Yes, the new house has lower taxes and our mortgage is lower. But the new house also has at least a hundred doors, and they’re all a bit wonky. Some have keyholes but no keys. Some don’t close all the way or latch. Some scrape the floor when you open them.

We will not discuss the lack of energy efficiency, the odd noise the furnace makes, or the ice dams forming on the roof right now. I don’t have all day to get upset about the ice dams.

Less expensive homes are less expensive for a reason. Lucky for us, we think most of this is kind of hilarious. Eric and I both grew up in old farmhouses so oddities like this don’t stress us out too badly. But if these are the things that drive you mad, then think twice.

Lesson 2: The actual process of obtaining a mortgage and buying/selling a house is soul-sucking.

Even with stable, normal jobs and excellent credit, there was a time when an email from our mortgage processor spiked my blood pressure to the stratosphere. We waded through paperwork I didn’t understand, shelled out thousands of dollars out-of-pocket, and had a home purchase completely fall through at the last moment. Heart attack city, I tell you.

AND ALSO, we ran into a problem when our property taxes were double paid due to a lack of communication by some of the professionals. A sizable amount of money ended up in cyber space for months instead of in our savings account, where it belonged. (Word to the wise– if you run into this type of problem, use Twitter to politely contact your bank! That got us assistance when nothing else did.)

I am now at least 40 years older from the experience of buying this house. I’m basically an 81-year-old woman with a great dye job.

Lesson 3: Moving is a big adjustment.

I got so caught up in the financial aspect of things that I sort of forgot about the emotional cost of moving. Except for the cat, who thinks the new house is wonderful, we’ve all had some roller coaster emotions the last two months. Our daughter moved away from some neighborhood friends she really enjoyed, we moved out of the school district so we end up driving a lot more (the kids didn’t change schools), and also many people think we’re insane.

Jessie Clemence
Jessie Clemence
Jessie Clemence is an author and blogger who loves to help readers laugh at how weird and hard life is. She's the author of three books: If I Plug My Ears, God Can't Tell Me What to Do, There's a Green Plastic Monkey in My Purse, and I Could Use a Nap and a Million Dollars. You can find her blog at jessieclemence.com. Jessie lives with her husband and their two middle school aged children in southwestern Michigan.

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