The 4 biggest regrets people have about downsizing their homes

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  • People downsize their homes for many reasons, especially after a major life event later in life.
  • But downsizing doesn't always work out, and some people who do it have regrets later.
  • Here are some of the biggest regrets people have after downsizing.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

People downsize their homes - and lives - for many reasons.

Maybe their children have gone off to college and they don't need as much space. Maybe they're retiring and want to get rid of possessions they no longer use. Or perhaps they simply want to reduce their housing costs.

However, when downsizing, the benefits don't always outweigh the drawbacks.

Sonya Myers, a realtor and author of "Downsize Your Home, Rightsize Your Life," said she found that out the hard way. She and her husband moved from a 3,000 square-foot house to one less half the size, but said they quickly realized the change was too drastic for their lifestyle. They then "rightsized," as she says, to a slightly bigger home with a more efficient floor plan.

Read more: 6 signs you should sell your home, according to experts

"If you're thinking about downsizing, consider factors such as how much space you need if you work from home or have hobbies, whether you enjoy overnight guests, and how much privacy you're willing to sacrifice if you have a partner," Myers said.

Read on to see the biggest regrets from Myers and other people who have downsized.

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Less space means less privacy

Less space means less privacy

Myers said that although she and her husband, both in their 60s, looked forward to having less space in their new home — particularly because less space sounded like less work — the trade-offs weren't worth it in the long run.

"Both of us chafed at the limited space and were frustrated with the lack of privacy," she said. "Our second bedroom was set up as an office and den and we even started using headphones to watch TV separately to avoid the sound disturbing each other."

Marketing consultant Marsha Kelly and her husband, both around 60 years old, downsized from a 4,300-square-foot house (with a 1,200-square-foot attached apartment) to a vintage VW van of under 100-square-feet.

"My husband talked me into joining the van life movement by moving into our vintage VW to travel the country — and the van is about as large as two walk-in closets," Kelly told Business Insider in an email. "We find that we mostly live outside of the van and use it as a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen on wheels," Kelly said.

Aside from a lack of privacy in the van, Kelly said that to fund their mobile life, they're renting out their house, which she said also feels like an invasion of privacy.

"I regret this decision because now my beloved home is being filled with strangers — and I had to throw away 75% of all my stuff," she said.

And less space also means it's harder to have company over

And less space also means it's harder to have company over

Myers said another downsizing drawback was a lack of space when it came to having company.

"Although our downsized space had an open floor plan and was fairly spacious considering the overall square footage, it felt crowded with more than four people in it," she said. "And overnight guests were out of the question."

Ron Humes, a 51-year-old marketing executive, and his wife, 48, also downsized when their kids moved out, and now regret it. They went from a 4,000-square-foot home to one that's 1,300 square feet, and find it challenging to have big get-togethers.

"When our kids lived at home, we were very active in school sports programs and would host events with large groups of athletes and friends of our children," he told Business Insider in an email.

He said that although they still want to host family meals and events, there's not enough room for everyone — and that's when the regret sets in. Instead, they tend to have very small groups of friends and family over.

For large group functions, Humes said they have the ability to lease out their neighborhood clubhouse, but it's not the same as having people come to their house.

You'll also have to let go of some of your most cherished possessions

You'll also have to let go of some of your most cherished possessions

Kelly said another downsizing challenge was parting with certain possessions, especially sentimental ones.

"I had a fully furnished house with an extensive art collection — my father was an accomplished artist and taught me to appreciate art," she said. "Now, I only have a few beloved paintings of his and ones that my husband and I bought as newlyweds."

And your new home could be less convenient than your old one

And your new home could be less convenient than your old one

Cynthia MacGregor, a 75-year-old freelance writer and editor, downsized from a house to a condo back in 2004 when some of the magazines she worked for went out of business.

As a result, MacGregor lost a lot of the conveniences she had with her house. She said she misses her large master bedroom, parking her car right outside the door of her home, and having her own washer and dryer.

"Plus, the condo has a tiny second bedroom, which, lacking the office I had in the house, I am forced to use as an office," she said. "It is so small that I cannot even meet with clients in it."

But the biggest issue is that MacGregor has become disabled since moving.

"I have serious balance issues and must use a walker or I'll fall over," she said. "My condo is on the second floor, so when the elevator breaks down, I can't get downstairs and back up again on the stairs with my walker." Furthermore, her bedroom is tiny and unnavigable with the walker. "I want my house back," MacGregor said.

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