SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- For most homeowners, their biggest asset and biggest expense is their home. One way some San Diegans are making the most of that is by downsizing.
For David McIntosh and his wife Susan Connell, downsizing to a townhouse in Oceanside almost two years ago was the realization of an idea that began percolating nearly 15 years ago as the last child left the nest.
“All of a sudden we had this huge house and it was just the two of us and so that was when we started this migration to smaller, more affordable,” explains Dave.
They went from a roughly 3,000-square-foot home in Sorrento Mesa filled to the brim with three kids, two dogs, a cat and a tortoise, to a 1,700 square foot home in Del Mar.
Twelve years later, it was time to downsize again to escape the stairs and the expense.
“Del Mar is even higher cost of living than some other parts of San Diego, and we thought as we approached retirement that it might be nice to live someplace a little bit more affordable that was still nice,” says Susan.
That place turned out to be the Oceanside townhome in a 55-and-older community. When asked if he thought they would ever move to a 55 and older community, Dave replied, “Would not have been on my list of things that I would do in my 60s.”
However, the bigger obstacle came before their first move out of Sorrento Mesa. Susan says the hardest part of making the decision to do that was “having to go through all the stuff.”
That's where neighbor and realtor Nick Alameddin came in. Susan says, “At our big house, he was our next door neighbor.”
Nick's specialty is helping people downsize. He sold Dave and Susan's Sorrento Mesa home, and then their Del Mar home.
“He was helpful finding handymen and an organizer to come in and help me go through my office stuff and help pack up,” says Susan.
“We'd have never made it to here without Nick's help,” adds Dave.
Nick's company, Downsizing San Diego, has been helping people for 26 years. He says the trend has “grown tremendously, especially in the last few years.”
Most of his clients are empty nesters like Dave and Susan, looking to save for retirement.
According to Susan, “This house was about 40 percent less than what we sold in Del Mar.”
Dave says, “So yeah, that was all straight into the retirement fund.”
A recent study by StorageCafe found downsizing from a 4-bedroom to a 2-bedroom home within the city of San Diego can save $315,000 and from Carlsbad to Chula Vista, almost $760,000.
What’s more, it's not just the money. Many are going smaller to be closer to amenities.
“People are opting for better quality of life versus having a bigger home,” says Nick.
Dave and Susan say they love their new townhouse, where they plan to stay once they retire. They say the neighbors are friendly and the community offers a lot of fun and convenient activities. They did consider moving out of state to a lower cost of living area, but found it was no contest.
“We looked at all those lists and we looked at all those places and said none of them are as nice as San Diego,” says Dave.
Dave and Susan's biggest piece of advice: Start the process before you're forced to by age or health. That way you make the decisions, you don't burden your kids and you don't have to rush.
Nick says when you're ready to work with a professional, check them out thoroughly and get a referral before you do.