The Decision to Downsize

If you find yourself an empty-nester with extra room to spare in your large house, the thought of down-sizing has probably crossed your mind a time or two.  Many Baby Boomers are finding themselves still in the home they bought when their kids were young, with more room than they really need.  And along with that extra room comes the extra work of cleaning and maintaining a larger space.  Many people always figure they’ll downsize, but often drag their feet to do so.  So when is the right time to downsize?   

Many times when individuals put off planning for their future, a move becomes suddenly necessary due to financial hardships, poor health, or other circumstances.  Making the decision to downsize is best when it can be made out of choice and not necessity.  We all know that moving can be a difficult life change at any age, and especially as we grow older.  Being proactive in your downsizing plans can make aging all the easier.  

In order to make the decision to downsize, individuals should consider whether the features of their current home will meet their needs as they grow older.  Will the stairs become an issue?  Will the location allow for social interaction to combat isolation?  Is the location near to help if there’s an emergency?  To some, moving closer to family or choosing a town with a lower cost of living are big factors in making their decision.

There are five main options for those looking to downsize:

  • Buying a smaller house or condo
  • Renting a smaller home
  • Moving in with a loved one (usually an adult child or other relative)
  • Moving to a retirement community
  • Moving to an assisted living facility

While buying another home may work best for those still wanting to live fully independently, moving in with a relative may prove best for others who need a little extra help along the way.  For those wanting the ease of less home responsibilities with the option of more care as they age, moving to an assisted living facility or retirement community may fit the bill.

The benefits to downsizing are numerous.  Moving to a less expensive, not just smaller, home can help you save more during your retirement.  A reduced amount of taxes, insurance, utility bills, and the general maintenance of a smaller home will keep those savings rolling in.  And more than likely, a nice profit can be made by selling the larger home, boosting your income during retirement even more.  If your downsizing involves moving to a retirement community or assisted living facility, you’ll receive the extra benefits of social activities, meals provided, and your home maintenance being taken care of.  

Janice Knapp, a new resident at Snyder Village, recently went through the downsizing process herself.  After her husband passed away, Janice considered moving in with her adult daughter and her family.  But not wanting to heap more responsibility upon her daughter, Janice decided to look for a new place of her own.  She says, “I needed to start my ‘second life.’  I needed a change.”  That change brought her to Snyder Village, where the maintenance-free living and community activities appealed to her.  Her previous home, a ranch-style home with four acres of land, required a lot of upkeep.  The smaller cottage that she has now purchased in the retirement community is maintenance-free, ridding her of the stress and pressure of daily upkeep.  

Before her move into the retirement community, Janice had to declutter and sell many of her possessions in order to downsize.  She held two auctions, selling roughly six trailers full of items she no longer needed.  She was able to simplify her life by getting rid of things like extra pots and pans, tools, and even cars.  “It was a relief to get rid of the things at the auction,” explains Janice, “I didn’t know what to do with it all.”

Her previous home, with extra room and empty space, left Janice craving community and social interaction.  Now a member of the retirement community, she has the opportunity to daily interact and bond with her neighbors if she wishes to do so.  “They take care of each other here and have so many activities.  It’s like a family here,” she explains.  With less maintenance required of her new home, Janice now has more free time to participate in the social activities that she enjoys so much.  The decision to downsize was a difficult one to make for Janice, but she can’t imagine being anywhere else.  “I’m glad I made the move,” she says, “I really am.”