There are several reasons why, as a homeowner, you might want to downsize from owning your own home to renting one. Maybe your home maintenance costs have become a huge burden. Or you are planning to travel and it makes no sense to keep an empty house while you are away. Or you are a senior citizen whose children have left home and you want more manageable accommodations.
Whether you are downsizing for one of these or other reasons, going from owning your own home to renting is a big step. The idea of going mortgage-free sounds great however, it comes at the cost of limited freedom. As a homeowner, you have complete control over the space you call your home. But as a renter, many of the liberties you took for granted will no longer be available.
How you go about the transition from owning your home to renting will determine if you feel like the decision is a step backward or the next chapter in your life. To help you make sure it is the latter, here are a few things you should know and do when downsizing from homeownership to renting.
Tip #1: Know what you actually want
Remember that as a homeowner you are used to having a lot of privacy. This is not always going to be available when you rent, depending on the type of home you rent. If you want to retain most of the privileges you have as a homeowner, HMR Management suggests renting a single-family house. However, if your main concern is cost-cutting and reducing the amount of work you have to do to look after the home, an apartment will serve your needs. To know what is best for you, you should make a list of the things you want or don’t want, and make sure to ask the right questions.
Tip #2: Be realistic
The mindset you have as a homeowner is different from the mindset of a landlord. Unlike homeowners, a landlord’s primary consideration in the features he/she includes in a rental is profit. This means the facilities in the rental may not be anywhere near what you are used to. That is one of the realities of renting. Do your best not to concern yourself with how nice and up-to-date the features of the home are. If they are reasonably attractive and fully functional, that should be enough.
Tip #3: Evaluate the home and the neighborhood
You should not rent a home until you have seen it. You need to get a feel of not just the home but also the neighborhood. However, before you go to see the home, check online reviews of the area to see what past and current residents are saying. If the property is a multi-unit rental, inspect the common areas and try to find out what kind of people rent the place. Additionally, you should tour the neighborhood to get a sense of what the community is like. Also check for nearby services that support the kind of lifestyle you want.
Tip #4: Know the cost of renting
As a longtime homeowner, you may have forgotten what it is like to rent. Before you commit to any home, find out what your costs will be. Apart from the rent, there are other financial obligations and risks that come with renting. A few of them are application fees, security and pet deposits, renters insurance (some landlords require this, but even if they don’t, it is a good idea to have it), moving costs, and a lot more. Remember to factor in the cost of utilities since it is not always included in the rent.
Tip #5: Decide what to take with you
Another area where you might struggle is with the lack of space in a rental home. As a homeowner, you have the luxury of space. But rental apartments are not exactly known for their spaciousness. This means you will not be able to bring all of your personal belongings with you. There are two things you can do with the excess stuff; you can purge your home to get rid of (sell, donate, or trash) what you no longer need or you can put your other belongings in storage (which costs money) or you can do both.
Tip #6: Learn the best ways to customize a rental
For good reasons, landlords do not like tenants to take liberties with a rental by making major changes to the home. For instance, your landlord may not allow you to put nails in the walls (to hang paintings and décor), repaint the home, or change the flooring. But you still have rights, as a tenant, to make the home comfortable and attractive. How do you do it without violating the terms of your lease? You have to find creative ways to adjust the look of the home to make it fit your ideas of what a rented home should look like.