You spend a large portion of your life and your hard-earned money on the concept of the American dream, buying and living in your forever home. Your home is a special place, filled with memories, love, and laughter. As you age, you might start asking yourself whether your home works with your evolving daily routines and needs.
To ease challenges and simplify living, you may want to consider downsizing. Downsizing can offer many financial and lifestyle benefits for seniors.
Downsizing is the idea that your current space is more than you need and moving to a smaller space may fit your future needs better. Minimizing your living space and the amount of stuff you have can lead to less stress, lower living expenses, and a simpler overall life.
The first step is deciding to sell your current home or exit your current lease and look for a new, smaller living space. Seniors might want to downsize to a single-floor residence, to a smaller dwelling after losing a spouse, or to a more community-focused living space. Many couples no longer use certain spaces in their home and could put extra money saved from downsizing toward retirement.
What to Look For
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As a downsizing senior, create a list of your needs and wants in a new home. First and foremost, make sure you are moving to a space where you feel safe and comfortable. If you are going from a single-family home to a condo, consider that you will now have neighbors and the style of living will be different.
Also consider your future health needs. You may no longer want or be able to go up and down the stairs easily, so consider a ranch-style home or a first-floor unit. Ensure you have optimal mobility in your living space to help prevent accidents and falls.
Whether you are buying a home or renting an apartment or condo, seek out a supportive community. This could be in the way of a retirement community, a small town, or a top-rated neighborhood.
There are many benefits to a retirement community, such as meeting new people who are looking to live a similar lifestyle. This will allow you to foster friendships and stay active with community events. Also, you will have low maintenance, as lawn and basic home care are typically included.
How to Downsize
When deciding to downsize, have conversations with your significant other or loved ones about what you envision needing in a living space going forward. Take a look at your health, your care needs, and your finances to understand what your options are.
Once you have made the decision to downsize, research your living options. If you plan to buy a new, but smaller home, start with a mortgage preapproval to see what you can afford.
Other options are renting, moving in with a loved one if they have the space, or looking into other senior living ideas. Seniors looking to sell their current home and buy one simultaneously will want to hire a real estate attorney to ensure a smooth transition and that their assets are safe.
Next, clean out your current living space. This can be tough. It’s hard to get rid of items you have accumulated over the years or that have sentimental value.
Start by going through and putting together any items that must be kept. This could include family photos, documents, and special jewelry or clothing. Then go through the rest of your home and mark the items you are willing to part with by donating or selling.
Moving as a senior can’t be done alone. You will need to get assistance from your friends and family to help. When moving time arrives, you can hire a moving company to assist.
When to Downsize
There is no right or wrong time to downsize. It’s a decision only you and your partner can make. Your family might have differing opinions, but ultimately you have to decide if downsizing is needed to live your best life as you age.