As you age, you may decide that less is more. When you downsize your home, there can be less to pay for, less to take care of and less to worry about. Although the decision sounds simple, there is a lot to consider before you put your current home on the market.
Depending on where you live and where you intend to live, it may not be financially possible to relocate. For instance, you may have a large house in the Midwest, but a desire to move to a smaller property with an ocean view. There’s a chance you won’t make enough money from the sale of your house to buy a new home without the help of a mortgage.
If you've lived in your home for some time and are looking for a newer house, you may not be able to afford the home of your dreams without financing. Even if an even swap is possible between your current and new homes, there may be association fees or higher property taxes that exceed your budget. Be sure that you know the financial details well in advance of the move.
As you age and children leave the nest, you may think that you no longer need as much room. But what if the children come home again? The Pew Research Center found that in 2016, 15 percent of millennials were living in their parents’ home. This is nearly double the number of people of the same age group living in their parents’ home in 1964. The job market, college debt and the rising cost of living all contribute to this change. Keep in mind that it may not just be your children moving home—they may also bring their partners and their children.
Location is important for more than just resale value. If you want to travel, or if you want to be easily accessible to friends and relatives, you probably want to live in a town near an airport. Also, give great consideration to the community that you're interested in moving into. Choose a community that has the resources that are important to you; these may include houses of worship, community centers or public transportation.
If you’re considering a gated community, look into the services offered. You’ll likely want to continue doing activities you enjoy and maybe even find new hobbies. If you love gardening, don’t move to an association that won’t let you plant outside. If you're a fan of woodworking, some associations have hobby rooms with tools available for you to use. If you're a card shark, it might be hard to find people to play cards with during the day if most people in your neighborhood are younger and at work.
Layout of the Home
There's a lot to be said for a two-level house, including privacy and the small dose of exercise one gets from going up and down a flight of stairs. But what seems a minor inconvenience when you're 55 years old might be a major difficulty when you turn 70. If you decide to get a home with more than one level, choose one with a bathroom on the same floor as your bedroom. Or, look into whether the home can be outfitted with assistive devices, like chair lifts.
Other things to consider include easy access to a washer and dryer, outdoor access and parking.
What You’ll Take With You
If you’re moving from the home where you raised a family, you’ll likely have many things to contend with. You may need to decide what you can live without. Sure, you can take pictures and all of your children’s middle school awards, but are you prepared to let go of other cherished belongings if you move to a smaller home? Give thought to whether you can truly downsize your life and still feel at home.
Finally, realize that if you haven’t found exactly the right setup for your lifestyle, you can always move again. After all, if a home is a person’s castle, shouldn’t you be happy in yours?
Nancy Kupka PhD, RN is a former home care specialist with years of senior care experience. She is currently Manager of Clinical Programs and Quality for Walgreens. To make aging in place in a smaller home more comfortable, you can find assistive devices such as lift chairs at Walgreens.com.