As children leave the nest and retirement approaches, many people begin considering what housing option will work best for them in this new phase of life. While you might not be quite ready to make the leap to a senior living or continuing care retirement community, there could be many advantages to downsizing your home as you reach your golden years.
Clean up and clean out
Many people have lived in the same house for decades, and during that time, it's easy to accumulate a lot of “stuff.” Downsizing encourages–even requires–you to consider which possessions are must-keep and which could be sold or given to charity. You may want to think about asking adult children or grandchildren to help with this process; they can offer a helping hand in loading up the items that don't make the cut (and keep any items that are sentimental to them). Don't forget to get a tax-deductable receipt for charitable donations!
Money, money, money
Depending on the location of your new, smaller abode, there can be financial advantages to leaving a larger home behind. Eliminating (or substantially reducing) a mortgage can have huge benefits, especially for those who are on or will soon be on a fixed income. A less expensive, smaller home will also reduce your annual property tax burden.
The right floorplan
When you bought your current home, you may have considered space for children, an office or playroom, or other rooms that you no longer have a need for now that you are retirement age. It's nice to be able to find a new home with a floorplan that works for this phase of life. Consider a 1-story ranch to eliminate stairs that can present challenges as you age. Or alternately, look for a floorplan that has the master bedroom on the first floor.
For seniors who don't yet need assistance but still desire socialization with peers, there is an increasing number of subdivisions exclusively for senior residents. These subdivisions are no different than other typical neighborhoods except that they require homeowners be over a certain age. These neighborhoods for seniors can be a great environment to meet new people who are in the same stage of life and share your interests.
Less house typically means less maintenance, which can be especially appealing as you age. Will you really miss cleaning those bedrooms and bathrooms that are infrequently used in your current house? Will you miss mowing and pruning that huge yard? For many seniors, the answer is a resounding, “NO!” You may even want to consider finding a home in a community that has a homeowners' association that includes yard care and exterior maintenance.
If you have lived in the same home for many years, it is normal to have mixed emotions about leaving. You probably have countless fond memories associated with that house, and long-time neighbors feel like family members. But it can also be exciting to consider new options that are better-suited to your life today.
Keep the long term in mind
If and when you make the decision to downsize and make a move, be sure to think long-term. At some point down the road, you may prefer to be in a senior living community that is equipped to provide healthcare services on-site should you ever require it (referred to as a continuing care retirement community). So when looking at smaller home options, it is wise to consider if you want to move once or twice in the coming years.