Mom's Attic and the Cost of Downsizing
While that would fluctuate depending on the location of each home and might not be so easy if the local housing market isn't playing along, even moving from a three- to four-bedroom house to a one to two-bedroom apartment, condo, townhouse or small house would help homeowners bank some money from the sale and cut down on monthly utility expenses. Basically, heating or cooling vacant rooms and turning on the lights to sort through your stuff for something you hadn't thought about until recently isn't cheap.
Those belongings of yours aren't exactly helping to foot the bill either. At a storage facility near my parents' town, a five-by-five-foot space goes for $43 a month before taxes and fees. That's more than $500 a year my parents weren't getting from a closet full of belongings and, if we're being honest, is just a fraction of the $1,200 a year that I should have been paying for a space three times that size.
That's not just a tucked-away corner of memories: That's an anchor. It's a junkpile in the attic that's weighing down parents who might otherwise leave. As it is, 40% of Americans ages 50 to 64 plan to move within the next five years or so, according to the Demand Institute, a joint venture of the Conference Board and Nielsen. Among that crowd, roughly three out of four plan to downsize from their current home, while 60% of homeowners age 60 and over told a University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study that they have "more things than they need."
Much of that surplus isn't even theirs. Even Kobe Bryant discovered this the hard way earlier this year, when his mother Pamela decided to auction off jerseys, uniform shorts, trophies and championship rings Kobe left in the family's suburban Philadelphia home. Pamela's plan was to buy herself and Kobe's father Joe a new home in Las Vegas. When Kobe said no and sued auction house Goldin Auctions to stop the suit, Goldin countersued and revealed that Pamela had been after both Kobe and his wife Vanessa for years to get his stuff out of storage. The Los Angeles Lakers star and his parents eventually settled, but not after providing a public example of what awaits grown children who can't decide what to do with the stuff crowding their parents' cellars and crawlspaces.
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