Does Downsizing in Your Senior Years Make Sense?

When you compare the cost of living in a large home versus a small home, it’s easy to see that there are definite benefits of living with less. However, aside from money, there are many reasons that seniors might want to downsize to a single-story one- or two-bedroom house. The process requires work, but it is often worth the hours that you put into it. If you’re thinking about your long-term living situation, keep reading for information that can help you stay independent.

The Pros

There are obvious financial benefits of living in a smaller home. First, you can often use the proceeds from your existing property to pay cash for a new place, which will help eliminate having to pay a monthly mortgage. Next, the utility and maintenance costs are considerably less, especially when your new home is actually new. 

Specifically for seniors, moving to a smaller space can have emotional benefits as well. HomeAdvisor explains this idea quite nicely by citing that “[h]aving fewer financial- and maintenance-related responsibilities will allow you to focus more on your happiness and less on your home.” You will also have the peace of mind knowing, depending on the house you choose, that you don’t have stairs or other obstacles to contend with if your maneuvering abilities aren’t quite what they used to be.

What Do You Need?

More than just a one-story living area, there are other things to consider when picking a new home. Make a list of amenities that are important to you; this might be a neighborhood with lots of other seniors or easy access to public transportation. Diane Benson Harrington of BobVilla.com further cautions that you will need to determine how much work, if any, the home needs. It may be necessary to add a few senior-friendly touches, such as lowered kitchen cabinets or wider doorways. Don’t neglect to consider these costs when viewing houses. Major renovations may take time, which can also delay the sale of your current home causing a potential issue if you need the equity as cash in hand.

Making It Happen

As we touched on previously, there’s a lot of work that goes into moving, even when you’re going to buy a smaller house. Planning in the early stages is essential and will keep you from hitting bumps in the road to the next chapter of your life. It’s usually best to tackle the emotional aspects of moving before you get down to the nitty-gritty.

If you lived in your current home for many years, you’ve made memories, and that can definitely be hard to walk away from. Plus, you’re going to have to figure out what to do with the stuff that you can’t fit into fewer square feet. Something that might help is to remind yourself that the home’s next family will make just as many memories as you. In a sense, you are making room for the next generation to raise their children in a loving home.

As far as your personal belongings go, that can be considerably more challenging. Chances are, you have family heirlooms that hold an incalculable sentimental value. Unfortunately, your grandmother’s hutch may not fit into your new space. Before you start looking for a new house, pull your children aside to discuss which items they might like to have. Keep in mind, though, that many in the younger generation have minimalist tendencies and likely have no emotional attachment to things that belonged to people they never met. Plan an estate sale for anything that’s left that won’t be making the move along with you. 

For many seniors, staying in their current home isn’t an option. If you fit into this demographic, you’re going to have to make a decision on where you want to go. Although there are numerous options, when you want to remain independent, buying a smaller home makes sense.

Contributed by Mike Longsdon

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I work professionally as a Realtor® in the Carson Valley area. I also serve the South and East Shores of Lake Tahoe. I love hiking and mountain biking in my spare time. I also love helping people in the real estate market. I am dependable, ethical and responsible. I have been in the real estate business since 1996.