Downsizing & Rightsizing

Downsizing & Rightsizing

ALERT, THIS NEW TREND IS GROWING: The buzz word is downsizing & rightsizing.  For some, in fact, it is going smaller.  Many of the baby boomers are now empty nesters who are getting older and want to live  a simpler and easier lifestyle.  They are in fact down sizing, whether it’s a smaller home, or, fewer of them.

Baby Boomers looking for smaller, functional and efficient housing-image via Napa Cottages

Also, there  is a core group of young first time homebuyers who’s sensibility is to live a simpler way of life. They are rebelling against the age of consumerism and want to live a life that harkens back to their Grandparents. This includes smaller homes, vegetable gardens, co-op buying and living. I see this quite a bit here on our Northern California coast.

And for others, there is a desire to create a space that flows with the way they really live their life, and truly fits their needs; not some cookie cutter McMansion created by a developer as a business investment.  I call this right sizing and it is part of the Slow Home movement. Some signs of this are

  • Square footage is down in home purchases
  • children are being home schooled so need a study space
  • a desire for more community interaction, less isolation

Community living is hot again-image via houzz

  • more people are working out of their home and need a work space
  • retirement communities are on the rise.
  • the vrbo business is growing as people sell off second or third homes
  • Grown children are moving home once again, along with aging parents
Even my husband and I are contemplating right sizing for us. While our home is more modest then many, we do have an acre of land that needs constant tending with an older home who’s value has significantly dropped and which needs a lot more work (read-time and money).
The question my husband and I have been tossing around is…How much space do we really need to live in? What is the right size that would be sustainable for the rest of our lives and where we would still enjoy a quality of life with room for our family and friends?

Smaller homes mean multi tasking in space-entry& living space with dining included, all in one room-image via prada answer on tumbler

These are questions that we, along with a growing number of people are asking ourselves, and contemplating in the scheme of this new world we live in. I imagine that this trend will continue to grow as many of us face the reality of what it is we really want.
Below is a short video interview I was recently a part of with mortgage loan officer Elise Groves. We briefly discuss the concept of right sizing…check it out…what do you think of this trend? Is it something you or someone you know are contemplating? I invite you to leave me a comment below…call it part of my research. I’d love to know what you think!




  1. Lyn Higgs 10 years ago

    Great –I enjoyed this a lot because this is where i am in my life–a sizable house to care for -with all the expenses and we are considering a smaller house–you can have a smaller house if the floor is good useable space–nice closets and storage–a smaller yard with room for a little gardening and more time to do things that would make us happy–I think we are going to be forced into this type of housing and do I really “need” all the stuff I have gathered–just keep the very best and sell the rest!! Thanks Irene for you creative thinking–i look forward to your column every day!!!—Lyn

    • Author
      Irene Turner 10 years ago

      Thanks so much as always Lyn for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment. You are always appreciated!

  2. Beryn Hammil 10 years ago

    Love the whole “right sizing” trend. Thanks for posting such a relevant article.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 10 years ago

      Beryn, I LOVE your story about your friend who gave it all up, moved into an airstream, travels with her two dogs and blogs from where ever she is. I’m not sure I could do that, but I must admit, there is a part of me that is intrigued

  3. Linda Rosso 10 years ago

    I follow your posts on Pinterest and am always looking at the Downsizing board! Our solution was to put our “full size” family home out for lease and try on an abode of a new size. We are completing year one in a two bedroom-three bath condo (great location, but too small for entertaining and we have most of our possessions in an overpriced storage unit). Our tenants have renewed their lease for a year, and our Downsizing Experiment Year Two starts next month in a smaller-than-ours single family home with three bedrooms-two baths- two car garage and room for an art studio. Everything can come out of storage, there will be room for entertaining and a place for both of the kids to sleep when they visit. So far, we are enjoying the novelty of being semi-nomadic while holding on to the investment security of our family home.

  4. Author
    Irene Turner 10 years ago

    Good for you Linda! Do you think that you will go back to the home at some point? Well…I guess you’ll know after trying this slightly bigger single family home. I’d love to hear what you think as your experiment continues!

  5. Another aspect of rightsizing that is usually ignored is the segment of the population that decides it needs to *increase* the square footage in order to accommodate aging parents, burgeoning families with kids getting married and having kids of their own, etc., and wanting to be able to have them all under one roof, whether full time or in vacation homes.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 10 years ago

      You are absolutely right about that Wendy. And it’s either about increasing or using their space differently. For example instead of a living room and family room there are two master bedroom suites with sitting areas, and only one family or gathering space. I mentioned it briefly above and a bit more in a previous post I linked to in the above post, on trends. It’ll be interesting to see how Americans do living multi-generational living…we’re not so good at it, not like the Europeans or other cultures where it’s expected.

  6. Leslie Adamson 10 years ago

    I love this piece Irene. When choosing a home, that is exactly what we did in reference to making sure there was room for my elderly mother. The house is 2200 sq ft. and is quite large for 3 people. The concept was for everyone to have a enough space to live amicably with each other. (3 women, 3 generations, 3 female dogs) It is rather tough to keep up with the cleaning and a smaller house would be nice. My problem came in to finding something with rooms of adequate size and function for each individual. As well as having enough private space for each of us which by the way is critical. My hope is that future homes will be laid out to accommodate these types of needs more efficiently. This home was originally 15-1600 sq ft. and was added on to. The layout is open yet poor division at the same time. I would love to see more on this topic. Nice to hear a voice with our FB conversations and would love to meet you some day.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 10 years ago

      Hi Leslie, thanks for your comment and for sharing. Yes, this is a topic near and dear to my heart! You’ll see more here from me, and hopefully from our housing industry as well. there are a few of us in conversation on twitter about it. But we need more people to jump on the band wagon. I really specialize in this when working on renovations for my clients. I love to make a small space not only beautiful but truly functional for all their needs and wants!
      It would be great to meet someday Leslie. I always love your thought filled comments! Cheers to you…that’s a lot of estrogen in one home…you are a trooper

  7. 9 years ago

    I gotta favorite this web site it seems very helpful worthwhile


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