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It's safe to say that most of us don't like to move.  Perhaps moving into a first home is exciting or our empty nest move filled with anticipation.  But, moving after a divorce is usually not so great. 

It's hard to be happy about negotiating the division of all of our marital assets.  Making the physical move is even more difficult.  It's a constant reminder we have less.  Less money, property and time.

Get serious about the right move for you

So, your new place isn't quite the same as the last one.  You kept some of the things you really wanted, but still gave up a lot in the divorce. 

In many ways a purge is not a bad idea after living large for a reasonable period of time.  And face it, you were living large.  We all were.  Two cars, careers, kids, home, they all add up.  Adding another equally expensive house wasn't happening.  So you picked up a little place like a life raft on a sinking ship.  Welcome home!

1.  Make it your home or move along

Nobody expects you to make it more than it is if it's less than you need.  But, try not compare it to your old house.  Instead, leave the memories of the old house behind.   

No matter where your new place is, how shabby it seems, make it your home.  The only way you do that is to move your new home in rather than you moving into your new house or apartment.  Make the space your own.  Don't worry if every part of the place just doesn't work for you. 

Make the most utilized spaces comfortable and homey, but don't overspend.  After all, it is just a raft.  But, it's your raft, so make it yours until it's not. wink

In most cases, the first place after splitzville won't be your forever home.  So, if it still doesn't feel right after a reasonable period of time, move on.

2. If you move...again

If you determined you're in provisional housing, take your time locating a place that has the location, amenities and features you need.   Be picky and choose the right one.  However, it is a buyers market in most states in the U.S. right now.  So, it's best to make three lists and be prepared to prioritize:

  • 5-10 "must-haves" (e.g. I must have 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a finished lower level rec room or loft, XYZ School District, etc.)
  • 2-10 "would likes" (e.g I would like an office or extra room that could be used as an office, but it wouldn't be a deal killer.)
  • unlimited "in my dreams" (e.g. I don't expect these things in my price range but it's worth a mention to my agent.)

Real Estate Rentals

Be pickier if you are renting since in most cases you can't make structural or physical changes while renting and the property serves one purpose, housing. 

Real Estate Purchases

It's okay to bend a little on a home purchase since you can make changes once you purchase, if necessary.  Remember, your purchase of a home serves many purposes and a good investment should be the primary focus. 

A sound real estate invenstment/purchase can provide the owner a tax shelter, payed in equity, appreciation and housing.  So, if the purchase falls short of a ceiling fan in the great room, don't lose the deal over it.   

Be willing to give a little to get most of what you seek in a home in an appreciable community. 

Spend and decorate wisely

Once you find the right space, add your individual style, something that, perhaps, you were unable to do when you shared your home with your former spouse.  If your style is a little "out there" keep your wild choices to things like paint, curtains, pillows, decor'.  Your new home should be designed around your likes, needs and style.  So, hire a professional if you like, but make it yours.

Select furnishings that are neutral, durable and warrantied.   When downsizing after a divorce, it's easy to overspend to replace what seems missing in your household.  So take it slow, make lists of needs and wants just like when you selected your new residence. Otherwise you'll be upsizing your presonal property and shoving it all in your downsized real property. 

Some things are worth celebrating

It's your turn to be selective, maybe a little selfish when setting up your new living space.  These little victories are worth a great deal when overcoming a stressful event such as divorce.

After all, you were likely in a marriage of which one or both spouses fell out of love, were unhappy or something happened that irretrievably damaged the relationship.  Either way, your divorce liberated you from that marital hardship. 

The goal was to provide you an opportunity to achieve personal happiness you weren't able to achieve in your previous relationship and living situation.  Why settle now?   

Find the right place in the right location that you'll be able to call home.  Don't let any obstacle get in your way.  They're just obstacles, not boundaries. 

Click here to find your next home to buy or lease

3. Got the right place?  Now add the right stuff

Bring some of what made your previous home comforting and add your own personal likes. Think about functionality, organization and furniture layout.  There are many tricks to keep your new place clutter free while still incorporating a lot of décor and personal style to the place.

A small place has it's benefits

1. Less to clean

If you weren't the one who did most of the cleaning in your old place, well then this is the right place for you.  It takes hours from your week to manage a large home.  A smaller place is a good transition to managing a home alone. 

If you were the one who was the primary household manager you'll appreciate the smaller job.  A smaller place can be quickly over taken by even the smallest of messes.  So keep it organized and assign manageable chores to keep it maintained.

Click here to find help with caring for home, kids or pets

2. Less expensive

Yes.  You have less money than when you were married.  However, a smaller place means less rent or smaller mortgage payment.  Also, you'll probably have smaller energy bills and taxes.  Your costs to furnish and decorate the smaller home will also be less.  These savings can be invested or you can reallocate the money to purchase better furnishings, electronics or décor to make your new smaller place your dream home!

3. Savings

Reduction in expenses can keep you on track to maintain your goals for retirement, education or future housing.   The interesting thing is that once you start to live in a smaller place, you may find that if you choose to move to a new area, you may still prefer a small home.

Check out our 2020 DMK Budget Series for savings and budget apps

4. Happiness

Those who have less daily responsibilities such as stressful job, a lot of housework and home maintenance generally have less stress, live longer and achieve more personal happiness.  A smaller home, requiring less income from a stressful job to pay rent or mortgage, less square footage to maintain and more efficient energy consumption helps.  It relieves the heavy burden of "house rich and cash poor".

5. Location, location, location

All real estate professionals will tell you that location is a major consideration for most home seekers.  A smaller place will provide you the opportunity to get into a neighborhood or school district you want that otherwise you would be unable to afford.  This means you may be able to live closer to your children's co-parent or in the current school district your children currently attend.  This makes it easier for everyone in the family to transition into their new home(s) while staying in the same or better neighborhood and/or schools.


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