I have not downsized (yet) but I have dozens of family members and friends who have.
I think the biggest thing to contend with/understand is that you are not getting a personality transplant along with the move. You are you. Yes, people can change. But if your current social network consists of your book club, a few friends from church/synagogue/prayer circle, and the people you volunteer with at the food pantry- most of whom you’ve know for decades, you have to come to grips with how hard it is (for some people) to establish these connections. If you are moving in conjunction with retirement, that’s two huge adjustments socially. Even if you aren’t close friends with your work colleagues, there’s a level of connectivity there that is not easy to replicate once you stop working.
I think people underestimate this. The rest of it- more housework, less yardwork, hire a cleaner, do it yourself, rent a storage locker close by for the seasonal stuff, do AirBNB when you travel to “self finance” your adventures or just lock up and go- there are pretty much solutions to everything. But if you are someone who cherishes a few close friends close by, and are not the type of person to show up at Yoga and ask “anyone want to go for coffee?”, then moving isn’t going to turn you into that person.
The happiest downsizer I know is also the most social, friendliest, easy-going, happy go lucky friend I have. She loved top notch theater, symphony, opera, a book club, a writing circle (among other activities). She’s ended up in a place with community theater (which she insists is “just as good”), the occasional Pops concert by a visiting conductor and a regional orchestra (she has a subscription and goes to everything), and has found peace with “trading down” her cultural interests (is a booster for her local HS theater department, buys blocks of tickets and invites all her neighbors to “opening night”).
But it’s no surprise that someone who always had a zillion friends has found a way to make another zillion. She never puts on airs, doesn’t remind people (or seem to remember) that when her husband was alive they attended La Scala, and cheerfully makes impromptu dinner parties (now on her deck due to Covid) and invites near strangers.
I admire this- but it’s not me. I’m happy with three friends, cannot fathom attending a HS performance unless my nephew were in the production (and then I’d go happily), and generally duck out of Zumba as soon as the music stops. Not one of the old ladies who hangs around making friends…
So I think reckon with the social issues. The rest of the elements will fall into place.