Downsizing in retirement is a popular choice for many. After kids have grown and you’re left with an empty nest, downsizing has a lot of practical and financial benefits. It can be a significant boost to retirement funds, allowing for a more comfortable living situation.
There are many benefits of senior downsizing, some of which are well-known and expected, and others can come as more of a surprise. Ultimately, even for retirees who are hesitant to leave the house they spent years turning into a home, downsizing can be a better match to the simpler lifestyle that often comes in retirement.
We’ve compiled some of the most common reasons retirees choose to downsize their homes in retirement and some practical downsizing tips to keep in mind to help with the process.
Benefits of Downsizing Your Home for Retirement
Downsizing comes with highs and lows, and there are many questions and concerns that the topic can bring up. Doing some research is a great idea to prepare for the process, so you have a better idea of what to expect. Many excellent books about downsizing discuss the difficulties and delights of the downsizing process.
There are many reasons why downsizing for retirement is a good idea. Many retirees expect a cash windfall when they sell their homes and want to free up cash flow to spend more on travel and leisure activities. Moving to a more affordable community to reduce expenses like utility costs, insurance, taxes, and daily living costs is another common reason for downsizing.
Others like the idea of saving time. With the time you’d typically spend on garden upkeep, attic cleaning, etc., you can adopt a host of new hobbies: traveling the world, exercising, volunteerism, etc.
Finally, some people don’t want to deal with the responsibilities and upkeep of a bigger home than they need. It costs time, effort and money to maintain a home of any size, but it can significantly decrease when moving to a smaller home. In fact, 71 percent of baby boomers cited less home maintenance as their primary reason for downsizing in a survey by Royal Lepage.
For some, the physical requirements of multiple levels or a big house might be something they can’t or don’t want to deal with anymore. Moving to a more accessible home can better enable them to live independently.
You have options when it comes to your new destination. Some downsizers feel most at home in a smaller house – with all the same basic functions and responsibilities, albeit on a smaller scale. Others opt for the convenience of a condo, where a strata board handles the bulk of the upkeep. Finally, some older adults prefer the turnkey ease and social life of retirement living. Speak with your partner, loved ones and a reputable real estate professional about buying a new home to decide what makes sense for you.
Tips for Downsizing in Retirement
Moving is always stressful, no matter your age, and downsizing comes with its own particular set of challenges. Doing research, considering your options, and lots of planning are crucial to making good downsizing decisions. Here are some of our tips for downsizing.
When your job no longer dictates your location, and you don’t have to worry about uprooting kids in school, the options for where you want to live are wide open. Consider what you’re looking for in your retirement. Some want to move to a warmer climate; others wish to remain in close proximity to family. Some may want to reduce upkeep, while others want a large garden to work on.
While downsizing in retirement comes with many benefits, it’s important to plan accordingly. Some retirees make commitments on a new residence only to find their current home won’t sell without necessary upgrades. Others put their home on the market before deciding where they want to live and find it sells quickly, leading to rushed decisions. Not making proper plans and arrangements can lead to significant unexpected situations and costs.
Remember, don’t just plan for now. After reaching the major milestone of retirement, many people are excited and eager to make plans for the moment. But it’s important to consider future needs. Even if you are currently in prime health, planning for future healthcare needs is critical. Do you intend to downsize to your forever home, or do you plan to move on eventually? If you hope to age in place, it’s essential to consider whether your future needs will be able to be accommodated in your new home.
Downsizing to a smaller home means you’ll need to decrease your belongings. Going through your possessions and getting rid of what you no longer need helps reduce the amount you need to move and allows you to start fresh in a new place rather than squeeze everything in. You’ll notice the benefits when setting up your new home.
Decluttering can be a difficult process, especially if you’re decluttering the house you’ve raised your family in. However, many find the process to be cathartic and feel much lighter after they’ve let go of things that take up too much room or aren’t used anymore. It’s important to understand that different emotions will surface as you declutter and to give yourself as much time as possible. Many experts suggest allowing for at least six months to declutter, so you don’t have to worry about tackling it all at once.
Decluttering now is also an excellent gift to your loved ones. Often, people can underestimate the amount of belongings they accumulate over their lifetime. Starting your decluttering and downsizing earlier and attending to it regularly allows you to pare down your belongings now, rather than leaving it all to family members to deal with in a massive estate cleanout.
At NEATSPACES, our staff are experts at managing moves, organizing, decluttering and downsizing. We can offer emotional support, facilitate the donation, sale or disposal of belongings you choose to get rid of and help set up systems for organization in your new home – all with minimal stress.
Contact NEATSPACES to find out how we can help with all your downsizing needs as you take on this next chapter of your life.