How Much Could You Save by Downsizing in These Cities

Hands holding cardboard box during relocation


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Hands holding cardboard box during relocation

Smaller Space, Bigger Savings

Though the process isn’t without pitfalls, downsizing is a go-to strategy for empty-nesters who want to save more for retirement — or anyone who’s simply eager to streamline their life (and budget). But where will trading down save you the most? StorageCafe looked at the nation’s 20 most populous metro areas to get an idea. The analysis compared the average values of a four-bedroom house and a two-bedroom house in those areas, then factored in both closing costs and tax savings over a period of 10 years to give a fuller picture of downsizing savings.

Related: Things to Consider When Buying a House After 50

Phoenix, Arizona skyline at dusk

20. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler

Potential savings: $93,200

Though residents of Arizona’s biggest metro area stand to gain the least on this list from downsizing, over $93,000 in savings is nothing to sneeze at. Additionally, downsizing from four bedrooms in Chandler to two bedrooms in Mesa could net a much beefier sum of nearly $210,000.

Related: 30 Things Every Retiree Should Get Rid Of

Atlanta Suburbs
novikat / istockphoto

19. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta

Potential savings: $107,800

Lower housing costs drag down downsizing-related savings in the Atlanta metro area, but close to $108,000 is still fairly impressive. And choose wisely with your move: Going from four bedrooms in Atlanta to two bedrooms in Sandy Springs can lead to a savings of nearly $380,000, compared to $163,000 for downsizing within Atlanta city limits. 

Related: Companies That Help Seniors Downsize and Relocate


18. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington

Potential savings: $121,600

If you’re not leaving Minneapolis for a warmer climate, maybe saving more than $120,000 by downsizing will help the chill feel a little less brutal. Moving from a four-bedroom in Minneapolis to a two-bedroom in St. Paul can boost the bottom line a bit more, with an average of about $145,000 in savings. 

Related: Mistakes Empty Nesters Should Avoid

Neartown, Montrose, Houston, Texas
Sean Pavone / istockphoto

17. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land

Potential savings: $133,000

A savings of more than $130,000 is certainly an incentive for downsizing in the Lone Star State. However, watch where you move: While trading in a four-bedroom in The Woodlands, where homes are relatively pricey, for a two-bedroom in Houston would save $310,000, downsizing from Houston to The Woodlands would barely net a savings at all: just $10,000. 

Related: Long-Term Steps to Reduce Your Living Expenses and Save Money

Tampa, Florida
miroslav_1 / istockphoto

16. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater

Potential savings: $145,600

Tampa’s savings are less dramatic than those that await folks who are downsizing in Miami, which ranks higher on this list. Still, those who leave behind a four-bedroom in Tampa for a two-bedroom in Clearwater could do better than the average, at $210,000. Going from Tampa to St. Petersburg also nets a nice sum around $180,000. 

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15. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood

Potential savings: $158,500

If you’re looking to do better than the average $158,500 savings that results from downsizing in the Denver area, consider a move from Denver to Aurora. Trading in a four-bedroom in the former for a two-bedroom in the latter could more than double your savings to $330,000. Going from Denver to Lakewood could net a tidy $210,000. 

lhongfoto / istockphoto

14. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin

Potential savings: $158,900

Finding smaller digs in and around the Windy City can net a very nice average savings of nearly $159,000. The most lucrative move is from a four-bedroom in Naperville to a two-bedroom in Elgin, which could double those potential savings to $330,000. 

Downtown San Bernardino, California

13. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario

Potential savings: $189,100

Downsizing in this lesser-known California metro area could net savings of just over $189,000 — which seems impressive, but actually doesn’t touch the number in larger California cities. The biggest return: A potential savings of $252,000 for those downsizing from a four-bedroom in Riverside to a two-bedroom in San Bernardino. 

Dallas at sunset

12. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington

Potential savings: $189,300

When it comes to Texas-sized downsizing savings, Dallas has Houston beat by about $56,000. DFW residents will do the best if they’re going from a four-bedroom in Dallas to a two-bedroom in Arlington, which could save them something more like $354,000, on average. 

St. Louis Skyline at Sunset
Stephen Emlund/istockphoto

11. St. Louis

Potential savings: $189,900

In the St. Louis metro area, there’s a 141% gap between the value of a two-bedroom and a four-bedroom home — the biggest difference of all metro areas. Still, thanks to a moderate cost of living, this Midwestern metropolis lands in the middle of this list. 


10. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington

Potential savings: $194,000

The City of Brotherly Love may make you feel warm and fuzzy with potential savings closing in on $200,000 after downsizing. The news is best for those going from a four-bedroom in Wilmington, Delaware, to a 2-bedroom in Camden, New Jersey, which could mean a savings of $300,000. 

Washington, D.C.

9. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria

Potential savings: $209,600

The bad news: The nation’s capital has some of the highest housing costs in the U.S. The good news: That can mean big savings for those looking to downsize. While close to $210,000 on average sounds pretty sweet, going from a four-bedroom in Arlington, Virginia, to a two-bedroom in nearby Alexandria could mean a whopping $610,000 in savings. 


8. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn

Potential savings: $209,800

While the potential savings for folks downsizing in the Detroit metro area is quite nice, they have to be careful. Thanks to its low average home values, those who downsize within the city of Detroit itself may only save about $30,000, and downsizing from a four-bedroom in Detroit to a two-bedroom in Dearborn could actually cost $78,000 — ouch — or $22,000 for those heading to Warren.  

New York

7. New York City-Newark-Jersey City

Potential savings: $215,400

Much has been written about the insane cost of housing in the Big Apple and surrounding areas, so there’s no doubt that downsizing is a tempting way to save. Big savings await for those downsizing from a four-bedroom in New York City itself to a two-bedroom in Newark — a bit over $500,000 — but the number could be even greater for those who don’t leave the city at all. Simply downsizing within parts of exclusive, expensive Tribeca or Soho could mean (wait for it) a savings of more than $3.2 million. 

Boston, MA

6. Boston-Cambridge-Newton

Potential savings: $232,900

There’s only a 40% price difference between a four-bedroom home and a two-bedroom home in the Boston metro area, but those who are considering downsizing may be in for very impressive savings depending on where they’re from, and where they’re going. For instance, going from a four-bedroom in Newton to a two-bedroom in Boston could save $690,000. But the flipside is also true: downsizing from Boston to Cambridge could actually cost an extra $184,000. 

Downtown Miami, Florida
Gabriele Maltinti / istockphoto

5. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach

Potential savings: $233,700

Though many retirees head to sunny Miami from farther-flung (and colder) places, those who downsize within the metro area could still find the move quite lucrative. The potential is greatest for those who want to stay in Fort Lauderdale, where going from a four-bedroom to a two-bedroom could save $364,000. 

aiisha5 / istockphoto

4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue

Potential savings: $234,500

If roughly $235,000 seems on the low end for the notoriously pricey Seattle area, your mileage may vary depending on the nature of your move. For instance, going from a four-bedroom in Seattle to a two-bedroom in Tacoma could mean a savings of $675,000, while going from a four-bedroom in Bellevue to a two-bedroom in Tacoma could save close to a whopping $1 million. 

Los Angeles

3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim

Potential savings: $239,800

Expensive SoCal is full of savings possibilities for those looking to downsize. While staying in the city of Los Angeles may only add up to about $200,000 in savings, trading in a four-bedroom in L.A. for a two-bedroom in Anaheim could more than double that number to roughly $420,000. 

San Diego, California

2. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad

Potential savings: $264,700

Just a bit further down the Pacific coast, sunny San Diego dangles the possibility of close to $265,000 in downsizing savings, on average. Moving to a smaller place within San Diego itself could mean about $315,000 in savings, while going from a four-bedroom in Carlsbad to a two-bedroom in Chula Vista could mean a much more impressive $760,000 back in your pocket.

San Francisco

1. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley

Potential savings: $406,600

It’s not exactly a shocker, but deciding to downsize in the Bay Area’s notoriously unaffordable housing market can mean massive savings — over half a million for those who want to simply scale back in San Francisco itself, and even more for certain other moves. Going from a four-bedroom in San Francisco to a two-bedroom in Berkeley can save $670,000, while heading to Oakland could save an insane $1.2 million.