Downsizing Spurs New Businesses

by Kay Lynn

Many people are downsizing their housing whether due to the economy or changing family size.  We were part of that trend a few years ago when we sold our 4 bedroom single family home for a 3 bedroom condo.

There is a silver lining to the trend.  It’s spurred several business opportunities related to living in smaller spaces.

Storage Solutions


This is the one business I would like to see on the decline.  Putting things is storage should be a temporary solution for people in between spaces.

It’s not a good idea for those that are permanently downsizing. Still, these businesses are booming as people can’t bear to part with possessions.


To avoid having to rent storage space some people hire organizers or decluttering experts to help them clear out unnecessary possessions.

This is a good business for a solo proprietor with low start-up costs.  It does require sensitivity as there can be a lot of emotions related to parting with treasured items.

Space Designers and Decorators

Space designers can help with innovative solutions for furniture and storage to make living in a smaller space easier.  Some designers specialize in elder design which requires consideration of needs of aging residents.

Decorators can do more than help with paint colors.  They can also help downsizers in reorganizing important belongings as they transition from a bigger space.

Instead of having that frog collection all over the house one alternative would be to create a display of favorite pieces grouped together.


Even if you don’t plan to be part of the smaller space trend, maybe one of these small business opportunities will be in your future.

Do you plan to downsize?

photo credit: doommeer

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The Financial Blogger September 29, 2010 at 11:20 am

I’ve actually increase the size of my house this year… but I have moved away from a big city in order to be able to afford it. Prices were so cheap that I couldn’t resist 😉

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 7:30 am

You’re going against the norm, but there’s nothing wrong with that! I know that during the height of the housing boom in Southern California a lot of people were buying quite a ways from the “city” to get more house for their money. Unfortunately, some of these developments had the biggest drop in value.

Carol@inthetrenches September 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm

That photo is amazing and totally scary! Makes my stomach jump just to look at it. Being a parking attendant would make me have a heart attack.
If a person likes antique furniture many previous periods have much more graceful lines and smaller pieces that work well in the smaller spaces and look ultra cool. Many high priced view condos are actually quite small in square footage but maximize the space well. Windows generally make a place appear larger.
Good job tips!

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 8:44 am

Carol, I saw one of these garages in NYC and was amazed. There’s no way I would be able to park there (afraid of heights).

I agree that smaller spaces today generally built to make the most of what’s there.

Money Funk September 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I am with Carol on this one! That pic made me dizzy. LOL.

Those are great businesses considered. I for one, think that it would be time to open an ecological recycling business. With all the electronics in our sphere and how quickly they get old…now would be the time to invest in something like this. We’re gonna have a trashy sphere if there aren’t people that don’t know how to properly break down those electronics, batteries and such. Cuz you can’t just toss them in the trash or that stuff seeps into our grounds and water supplies.

Nice post you have. I think Little House in the Valley would be great as a space designer…why with her love for small houses, this would be perfect. 😉

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 8:47 am

The best part with these businesses is that there are low start-up costs with the exception of storage sites.

Financial Samurai September 29, 2010 at 6:39 pm

When I retire, I DEFINITELY plan to downsize. A Nice 2/2 condo sounds great… but maybe not even that. I have too much property, and would like to liquidate in 10 years and just have interest bearing cash.

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 8:48 am

I think it’ll be a good time to sell in California in 10 years; we’ll be on the market as well for an even smaller condo.

Bank CD Rates Pro September 29, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Down sizing is a goal of mine. It’s so easy to get caught up on upgrading the way we live, but that’s living with a short term future. I think that overall, we as Americans should consider downsizing our lives (for example look at houses in Europe and other parts of the world) and live comfortable, with a few luxuries, but saving and investing for the future.

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 8:50 am

Culturally, it’s difficult for Americans to live in small spaces like Europeans but we’ll gradually get there just like our expectations grew over time. My great-great-great…. lived in a dirt dugout in Kansas!

SimplyForties September 30, 2010 at 6:08 am

I’m madly in love with tiny houses. I have a vision of a tiny house community of older single women. I sold my house and almost all my possessions a year ago when I hit the road as a full-time housesitter so I should be properly aligned to slide into a tiny house when I’m ready to alight somewhere permanently. Having said that, I’ve never actually been in a tiny house and I wonder if I can actually do it. I’m currently en route from my last housesit in Tennessee to my next one in Houston. I’ll be tending to a 5,000 sq ft house but living in a small guest apartment. I’m going to use this experience as a test and try not to hang out in the big house. We’ll see if I can pull it off!

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 8:52 am

I’m looking forward to reading how your small living goes. Houston in the winter should be good!

Little House September 30, 2010 at 6:48 am

These are some great ideas for people wanting to pursue an entrepreneurial dream. I personally love smaller houses, but with open and functional floor plans. I sometimes daydream about buying a small lot near the northern coast and building a small Tumbleweed home (not the portable ones, but the smaller foundation based homes!)

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 8:54 am

Little House, I agree that it’s important to make the most out of the space. I was watching House Hunters last week and on two separate episodes the first time buyers wanted 1700-2000 SF homes.

What did you think about Money Funk’s proposed business for you?

Invest It Wisely September 30, 2010 at 7:50 am

Wow… crazy photo. Where is that from?

I will shortly be moving from a two-bedroom two-floor apartment to a single-floor smaller two bedroom apartment (at about 820 sq. ft. or so), so will also be downsizing soon enough!

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 8:56 am

I am not sure where this picture was taken but did see a similar garage in NYC a couple of months ago.

Have you had to get rid of many possessions to make the move?

Aloysa September 30, 2010 at 10:27 am

We downsized from the very beginning (and we are not even close to retirement). Instead of buying a house, we settled for a one bedroom condo. We are pretty happy as we don’t really need that much space (it’s just two of us plus a cat and a dog). My friend got a $500K huge house and now she and her boyfriend are married to this house. It is a beautiful house but really why to have it if you cannot afford a lot of things because of this house. It’s not really worth (in my humble opinion).

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 8:59 am

I don’t know if my husband and I will ever be able to downsize to a 1 bedroom unless it also had an office space. But we could definitely lose two one bedroom and one bathroom and still have more than enough space.

I know some people who bought 4-5 bedroom homes for themselves as they are empty nesters. It doesn’t make sense to me but to each their own.

Sandy L September 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm

It’s also a nice opportunity for people wanting to upgrade their furniture and buy from someone who is downsizing.

My house size prevents me from buying lots of stuff. For every major purchase, I really have to think: do I have room for that?

I too am curious where the picture is from.

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 9:03 am

Sandy, I have things to sell because we don’t want to store them but haven’t been good about doing so. I think if we absolutely had no room, it would motivate us!

Olivia October 4, 2010 at 2:24 am

I believe I saw that a while back. It’s a garage somewhere in Germany.

Kay Lynn October 7, 2010 at 6:12 am

Thanks, Olivia. Europeans are pretty good about maximizing use of space.

Jersey Mom September 30, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Well, right now my kids are very young so 3 bedrooms serve us nicely. Once they’re grown and out of the house we may move to a 2 bedroom condo or something similar that requires less maintenance.

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 9:05 am

I don’t regret having the larger single family home when we were raising kids. We love not having to worry about maintenance with the condo. I don’t understand people who want to stay in the same home they’ve raised their kids even when it’s too much in size and maintenance.

iamtheworkingpoor October 1, 2010 at 7:36 pm

We’ve downsized from a four bedroom, to a three, and now a two. Since the youngest has moved out we are working on getting rid of more stuff so we can move to a one bedroom apartment one day. We’re using my daughters old room to stack boxes for yard sale items, and donations. I love downsizing! As a matter of fact I could totally be happy in one of those portable Tumbleweed homes.

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 9:08 am

I really need a room for a combination office/guest room whether it’s a legal bedroom or a den. Congratulations on downsizing!

Matt Jabs October 3, 2010 at 6:51 am

My wife works in the school system so she has entire summers off. For years now I have been trying to get her to start a personal organizer/decluttering business. She loves the process, and knows she could help people, but is reluctant because she needs that time to rest from the stress of her job… which I’m also trying to get her to quit since she no longer enjoys it. With the personal organizing/decluttering business she could market to local wealthy people, who I believe are the most in need, and spread her business quickly via word-of-mouth.

I’ll keep working on her, thanks for the reminder. 🙂

Kay Lynn October 3, 2010 at 9:19 am

It’s hard to give up the security and benefits of a teaching position. Financial security is important to women in general so it’s harder for us to take chances on our own business.

I hope she takes a chance to do something she loves; the payoff will make it worthwhile!

Matt Jabs October 3, 2010 at 9:23 am

Yeah, that is much harder for her than for me. Once we have no debt, it will be MUCH easier though.

loan calculator October 4, 2010 at 4:04 am

great post! i agree and i also think that Little House in the Valley would be great as a space designer…why with her love for small houses, this would be perfect. thanks for share your views…

Andi B. @ Modern Tightwad October 13, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I don’t think I can downsize any further. My husband, 60 pound dog, and I live in a 480 sf studio and I am definitely at my limit. We’re looking to upsizing to a 2 bedroom house no more than 1000 sf. I miss out on being able to have friends over, and I would like to have a yard for the dog, not to mention room for a microwave in my kitchen. Nevertheless, I’ve definitely figured out how beneficial it is to have less space to clean, to pay for, and to worry about.

Kay Lynn October 14, 2010 at 6:23 am

Andi, I would say you are down to a pretty tight space. The thing we miss the most from a single family home is a yard. We have to take the dog out each time he needs to “go”.

KateH. January 20, 2012 at 10:59 am

I was horrified when I learned that the self-storage business more or less began in the early 1960s right here in the US – consumerism got hold of us and we’ve never let go, have we? Thanks for your article – it was right on target! Now we all just have to do our part and learn to live well with less…

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