Parents downsize to $400,000 small house and kids are embarrassed

Mansion to small house(1)LIFESTYLE CHANGE IS NOT EASY

 

Downsizing to a small home can be a struggle from finding the right home to selling what you no longer need. 

You might also find there is opposition from others that live in the house about moving to a not as “posh” area as we will learn today from one couple.

Downsizing is an interchangeable word where it can be to sell a large home to buy a smaller one or simply to get rid of something or stuff that you no longer need.

My parents did just that but it was after I moved to Canada. They were living in a 3 bedroom home in the UK and once my parents were near retirement they decided to rent out the home, downsize and buy a caravan.

The caravan is custom trailer that looks just like a home on the inside with all the amenities minus all the maintenance.

There is a bit of work to do but not near as much as my parents had in the past. My mum and dad took all the belongings they didn’t need any longer and sold them at a car boot sale (a.k.a garage sale).

The downsize didn’t affect us as we were already moved out of our family home but for some families downsizing with kids at home might prove to be challenging.

I know what you are thinking? The parents run the house and the kids must tag along and do what they say. It sounds easy but sometimes it’s not.

 

 A small house is someone’s mansion

 

I grew up in what most people would consider a small house in the UK however that’s just my opinion. My wife’s family bought a small townhouse on a circle street and fun for the kids was hanging out at the “green box” and playing hide and go seek.

There are people who grew up in an apartment who wish to live in a house our size. Not everyone has had the luxury of living in a home. Not everyone cares to either.

Then there are people who rent rooms and wish they could afford to buy or rent a townhouse. The dream of home ownership is a distant dream so for now they consider the room somewhere warm to rest their head. That was us for a couple of years before we bought our first home together.

For many people change is difficult especially if it’s all you know. Why? It’s easy to get used to doing the same thing over and over or living a certain way and when someone pulls the plug on that comfortable life it can be really tough.

We are not all so lucky to have parents who were able to buy one of the biggest houses on the block but we were happy just to have a roof over our heads. We may not have ran with the rich and famous but we had friends who would do anything for us.

Not everyone feels the same way.

When you give something to someone, let’s say a child and try to take it away they tend to cry because they want it back. So, you might have to distract them with something new and explain why they can’t have what you’ve taken away. That’s parenting 101.

As we get older for the most part we get used to getting, having and losing things, stuff and people in our lives. It’s not easy but eventually the pain, hurt and so on goes away and we get used to what we have again.

Today I had a reader want some tips about how she can handle her daughters who are not happy with their parents decision to sell their large family estate to downsize to a small house in a not so upscale neighbourhood.

I call it a “Lifestyle Change” because for most people who downsize from a million dollar mansion to a small house that costs what most could only dream $400,000 can be tough on teenagers.

It wasn’t until we got older where we recognized that people may judge us based on how successful our parents were. The kids who lived in a shady part of town or those who couldn’t afford a house or who had parents on social assistance weren’t always welcomed into the “in-crowd”.

It’s just as big of a deal today among teenagers who are battling the scores of bullying online and at school and who are trying to fit in. It’s even worse than it was when I was a child.

It’s one thing to teach your child to stand on their own it’s another to watch them fall but when they get back up and not care what the others think is when you know you’ve done your job as a parent right.

Money, success and status of the parents should never be a major concern for a child growing up but as you all know, it is.

Let me share this readers question with all of you and please share your thoughts in the comment section for the reader.

Dear Mr.CBB

I can’t believe I’m writing this to you but I know that you might find this interesting and answer my question as I REALLY need help with our situation.

We moved to a very well-to-do neighbourhood 15 years ago. Back then my husband, a dentist and I a hairstylist decided to splurge on a large estate which is now worth over a million dollars.

Buying a house in an upscale neighbourhood was merely so we could provide for our children the way we wanted to but I’m afraid it has come back to haunt us now.

The house is outstanding from the workmanship all the way to the landscaping on the grounds. We don’t do any of the home maintenance as we have hired help to clean, landscape and even cook meals a few nights a week.

I don’t grocery shop either as my cook does all of that so I’m out of the loop with what really happens at the grocery store. It was for that reason why I found your personal finance blog. I wanted to learn how to grocery shop properly. Why?

Well, my husband and I are getting older now and with both of our daughters who are twins going to University this year we decided to downsize.

Once the kids are gone we really don’t need to live in a 7 bedroom house with huge grounds, 6 bathrooms, family room, office, fully finished basement, in-ground pool and so on. You get the picture. It’s a beautiful home finished top to bottom but we just don’t want it any longer.

Our kids grew up in this neighbourhood from a young age and now that they are older they only know this type of “taken care of” lifestyle.

They don’t have to clean their rooms or the bathrooms as that is taken care of for them. I’m sure they think we are made of money. Yes, we have money but no we don’t just blow it for the sake of it.

There are no chores to do as we have the hired help so all that our teenagers have to do is their homework and participate in their swimming and horse riding lessons. Apart from that they have a large social circle mostly of kids in our neighbourhood.

Looking back, my husband and I wish that we had given them more responsibility growing up so they understood it better. This was our mistake because we could afford the help and didn’t think of the long-term consequences.

Our children may not be as successful as we are and if they don’t know how to live life how will they learn? From making mistakes I suppose but some of them could have been avoided had we of done things different.

My husband and I had a talk with the kids last month and told them we were going to downsize the estate and buy a smaller $400,000 home just inside the city. We currently live outside the city where we had the house built.

The good thing about the move is I no longer have to run the kids in and out of the city for their lessons or when they stay late after school.

So what is the problem when our life sounds so wonderful? It’s not that wonderful because our kids are VERY upset with our decision to move to a small house in a not so well-off neighbourhood.

The past year we’ve been looking for a small house design that would suit all of our needs which we have. Once the idea of moving to this small house was becoming a reality our kids threw a fit.

Most of their friends live in our well-off neighbourhood and if they move they will be looked down on. My children told me this and I wanted to cry. What have we done? Although in part we are to blame this is what social media does and other outside influences.

My kids are not alone as many people as adults go through this when it comes to buying “stuff” which is why they are in debt.

They have to prove to everyone how well they are doing just so people are jealous of them or for whatever reason makes them feel better. In a way we were once these people.

What I believe with our girls is that it’s more about showing everyone how “successful” we are as opposed to moving to a house no one in their circle of friends would care about.

I believe that people still come together in friendship circles based on where they live and lifestyle of the parents. Many of the kids in our neighbourhood have credit cards that the parents give them and access to all sorts of activities, travel, shopping etc.

It’s easy for kids to know whether their parents have money or not based on lifestyle however that’s not always the case. I’m not saying all kids who live in million dollar mansions are spoiled however I think that feeling less than on top of the world with their friends is going to be hard.

I’ve already had to discuss “being poor” with my girls because they say that their friends will take one look at our new house and think we are poor.

I feel sometimes that we’ve raised them wrong but for the most part I know I did what I could to teach them manners and to strive to be successful in all that they do. I just wish we taught them more about personal finance.

I’m still getting grief no matter what house we go and look. We’d like to buy a bungalow for when we get older and can’t walk up flights of stairs. The kids do understand although I feel like I’ve let them down in some way.

Although my husband has a good job and earns a wonderful living we were not always so smart with our money. Once we bought the house we went hogwild buying furniture to fill it and are in debt. Not to mention the holidays, spa days, vehicles etc.

Clearly we need to learn how to budget our money better. Just because we earn it doesn’t mean we know how to save it.

Setting money aside for their education didn’t register since my husband earned a good living. We thought we would just pay it when the time comes. We never told our girls this but thought we might as well tell them that the won’t have to worry about their education finances.

I was hoping that once they heard the good news about not having to owe money after University for sure they would be excited not having to save the money themselves. I was wrong.

They seem more concerned about the small house than they are their education. They are very smart kids and I feel like we are crushing them emotionally by moving as they go into University.

I’ve tried to explain that their friends in the neighbourhood will be doing their own thing and moving away and likely only very few of them will stay in contact.

I’m not sure what to do. Our real estate agent says now is the time to buy and sell our home especially in the area we live in. It could take some time to sell our house or it could take a day but we should be ready to go.

How do I cheer my kids up about moving from our 6000 sq ft mansion to a small house of only 1600 sq feet with a finished basement?

-JE

 

Hi JE,

Thanks for taking the time to write me this extensive letter to read. Your kids seem a bit spoiled in the sense that they are used to the large floor plan of the estate and downsizing simply won’t cut it for them.

It also is apparent they are worried what others will think of them from a “wealth” standpoint.

Unfortunately kids base their pride and worth on how much money their parents have and how big the family home is. Having a small house means you have parents who can’t afford to buy anything better. That’s simply a crappy way to analyze this situation but it’s the norm these days with social media telling us just how rich you should be to “fit in”.

Just look at the recent belly button challenge to see if someone needs to lose weight or not going viral on the internet. It’s not only idiotic it tells me that our children really need to focus on life and not just what everyone else thinks or believes. It’s always been there but the blast of technology over the years has brought it out even worse in kids.

For this reason parents need to step in from a young age and monitor, educate and motivate children to stand on their own two feet.

Kids today are wasting too much time watching TV, playing video games or surfing the internet day and night on their smart phones.

 

Small House Living

 

It’s not that bad at all living in a small house that meets all of your needs. There are people who rent only because they can’t afford housing costs or pay the down-payment. I’m pretty sure they would love to move in with you given many of the pitfalls of living in an apartment building.

A small house is a matter of perception as something small to one person is not small to another.

I don’t know if your children work or not but I’d suggest you motivate them to get a job and fast. They need to learn the value of money and how it will apply to their lives moving forward without mommy and daddy. If a child has no concept of how to earn money they will never understand how it’s spent.

Learning about paying bills and saving money for things like their education or their own clothes is paramount to their financial success. I know many “rich kids” but not all of them are smart with their money.

You could even go one step further and teach your children how to budget money or learn as a family since you mention it’s something you need to do. If you don’t pay them to do chores make up a chore list and pay them an allowance every week which they can keep half and must invest the rest.

Talk to your children and explain to them that living in a small house that costs $400,000 is still a huge house to someone else. Not everyone has the luxury to live in a mansion most of their younger years so they should be thankful for that opportunity and move on.

If your children understand just how important it is for the two of you to downsize to a bungalow since you are aging they might come on board with you if they understand life better.

Another thing you can do is mention that they are free to move out on their own and that they are at the age which they can leave home. It may not be this year but in the next year or so the kids will be gone and no one will be home. Living in a large estate home with only 2 people and some staff can be costly.

The bills and property taxes alone are probably massive and I bet you would rather use that money to travel or enjoy the rest of your lives together.

A big house is not always the answer, living the life you want is.

It sounds to me that your kids are opposed to the move from the estate to the small house for many reasons but most of all they need to understand the value of money and that if they didn’t earn it they don’t get a say in how it’s spent. That may be harsh but it’s the truth.

In this case it’s just a matter of the kids not wanting to be looked down on as if their family is poor or no longer can afford to live in the big house. I hope you find the way to help your children understand and please keep us updated.

-Mr.CBB

What do you think about these kids? Are they worried about what their friends will say about them moving to a small home in what they believe is the “hood” of the city?

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Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB was born and raised in the United Kingdom who then moved to Canada where he is a permanent resident. He recently became a father to a very busy toddler who allows him to be a kid at heart. He bought his first house at the age of 21 after University and his second at the age of 24. Both Mr.CBB and his wife are Debt and Mortgage Free and they did it all in under 5 years using a Budget. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where he shares their financial experiences with his readers and hopes to learn about theirs. Welcome to CBB!
Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB

Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Wow, that is incredibly sad–but glad the parents are taking responsibility for their children’s attitudes. I have no idea what the right answer is, but since this attitude was groomed by the parents for years, maybe the solution needs to be a gradual one. My first suggestion would be to take the kids on a very different kind of holiday. I would find an organization that would allow you to participate in a Mission-type trip as a family. Get to an orphanage…..feed the hungry……find out how the poor really live. This needs to be an extended trip, and not just in your own backyard–they will need extended time to really fall in love with these people. They will need time to see that these people are genuinely HAPPY and JOYFUL in spite of their circumstances–they are not dependent on financial or social status to be truly fulfilled in life. They will need time to see that nobody in North America is poor in comparison–we are all rich. It can be a life-changing event. And then when you return from that trip, start sponsoring as many of those kids as you can possibly can through a reputable organization, and continue to help the poor and needy in your area–and require the kids to do the same!!! Then gradually take financial aid away from them–set a date when they need to have a job–and how much of that income needs to go to education, etc. Entitlement is a horrible disease–one that parents create–and one that parents can cure–although I imagine it could be a long and bumpy road at this stage. Isn’t it interesting that ‘living beyond your means’ occurs as every level of income! Good luck to these parents as they begin this new stage of life–I’m afraid they have a tough road ahead. What a blessing it is to raise financially responsible kids and hear how thankful they are for that when they become adults.

  2. Mary F Campbell says:

    JE, downsize! If you don’t do it now…those kids will be back to loaf around the mansion after university and to stake their inheritance claims!

    I can’t tell you how many of my friends approaching early retirements after working their buns off for 50-60 years and having a strong work ethic, now find themselves with one or a couple 20-30 something kids having just returned to the nest as a God given right & are waiting for the parents to die so that they never have to figure out how to get a huge down payment of their own.

    They need to stand on their own two feet! If they are old enough to vote, it’s time for them to behave like an adult and provide for themselves. I still remember my father saying, once you leave home, you can never really come home again. There was a period of 3 months when I did go home due to a marital breakdown and cross country move BUT after you have provided for yourself, made your own decisions, lived your own lifestyle – he was right, there is no going back to the “house rules”.

    Stand your ground. You and hubby are still here to help with guidance if they stumble and falter. Maybe it hurts to realize their friends are only interested in what you can provide BUT some of the wealthiest multi-generational families in Europe have taught their children to behave in a very “ordinary way” both for their safety and to keep them motivated to grow the family funds as opposed to wiping them out in a single generation living the lifestyle of the rich-and-famous that they never earned for themselves. It’s time to take the long view and help the kids grow up…it’ll have growing pains for everyone so you might as well just expect them. Good luck! 🙂

  3. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    I think maybe these two ADULTS need to head to university and fend for themselves. Go ahead and pay tuition since you promised it, but they need to move out. Then they don’t need to worry what their friends think about their PARENTS’ home because they won’t be living there. They can get jobs and pay rent.

    When I first saw the title I thought we were taking about young teens. These are adults and they have absolutely no clue about living in reality. Blaming social media is nonsense. If the kids aren’t handed their own computers, cell phones and iPads when they are born they won’t be so connected to social media. Social media should not be their role models.

    My kids have iPads but only bc school forced them upon us. They do not know what Facebook, Instagram or snapchat are. They don’t get to be on the internet all day. That is because I am the parent. I decide what they have access to. Because I pay the bills. Whenever they get the “I wants” I immediately respond with “do you have a job to pay for that?”

    These girls need to be set straight and their parents need to stop worrying about their feelings and be more concerned about how unprepared they are for life.

  4. Sorry to say this but JE’s girls are spoiled and nothing that she will do, besides agreeing to stay in the current house will suffice. If the parents agree to do that, then the girls have won and the girls will get a huge dose of reality once they aren’t living on “daddy’s” money.

    I wish JE and her family all the best but she’s in for a long period of time where her girls won’t be happy with her and her husband.

    My sister gave a plaque to my parents that read “Teenagers are people who one day will be as stupid as they think their parents are”. I think this sentiment works well in this scenario.

  5. In this case I believe the parents need to do what is best for them and downsize. I’m not going to say anything bad about the girls for this is the only life that they know and unfortunately this generation is caught up with what they see on TV and most ratchet reality shows are about the rich. It’s not their money and they will come around. After the parents move they will see that the world has not come to an end because they live in a smaller home. This may be a great learning process for them or maybe motivation to earn their own money.

  6. JE – firstly I want to say I empathise with you for the situation you are in. It must be difficult. As a new mother I understand the joy in making your children happy and I can see why you feel sad.
    Just looking a little deeper – perhaps your daughters are mourning the end of their childhood and that is manifesting as this fear of being looked down upon. I moved overseas at 21 years old and my parents sold my childhood home that same year, meaning I had no real concept of home. It sounds like something similar may be happening with your daughters as they go to Uni.
    I don’t disagree that they have been spoilt and a lesson in true poverty by volunteering at a shelter would be wise, but I also think a lesson in the freedom that true wealth (the freedom to do what you wish with your time) can bring might be in order. Showing them what the $600,000 does to their parents peace of mind and attitude to life is very important.
    As for paying their tuition – I think there should be some strong rules around that – the first being that they get jobs of their own. You are doing them no favours as they have no work ethic and no understanding of just how hard it is to support yourself. I dare say a few months of working and paying their own way and they will be a lot more understanding of the reasoning behind your move.
    Lastly, I want to commend your braveness. Not many people will choose to downsize so drastically but you are and I think it’s wonderful.

  7. I agree that it can be difficult to downsize, but sometimes it’s necessary to downsize so you can live within your means. Interesting post, thanks for sharing. I hope you have a great weekend!

  8. Maybe this step is what’s needed to help their children understand their worth is not tied to things. Plus, if they have friends who look down on them for where they live, then another good lesson to be gained is learning the what a real friend looks like. So, although the kiddos are upset, they will live and likely learn to grow passed the typical immaturity of youth. The mom shouldn’t take it so hard. They will all be okay.

  9. We experience this scenario that my kids got embarrassed and over thought about what their friends would say and comment about it. There had been lots of talks between me and my kids and I had to handle this topic very well so that they would bear this and manage this transition positively. I took time to give the right answers to their questions.

  10. I think it is probably a normal reaction for teenagers obsessed with how others perceive them. They’ve grown up in a wealthy area and probably made fun of people living in small houses. The good news is they are off to university and won’t have to live in the small house of long. They may even thank their parents for the free university education when they are older.

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