When you enter retirement, you find that a lot of things change. Your days are no longer structured around your work schedule. You have to watch your expenses as you enter an age of living on a fixed budget. And as we grow older, our bodies and minds naturally work differently. With all this change, it doesn’t make much sense to stay in the same environment you’ve been in all these years. That’s why so many retired seniors decide to downsize their homes.
Downsizing involves reducing your possessions, selling your current home, and buying a new place that is smaller. It’s a trend we’ve seen taken to the extremes with the Tiny House Movement, but it can be done in a more realistic manner, as well. For instance, many retirees decide to downsize from a two-story home to a one-story as a way to preemptively deal with mobility issues in their later age.
Benefits of Downsizing Your Home
- It’s a great way to start a new chapter of your life.
- A smaller home encourages less purchases on frivolous things.
- It gives you an excuse to finally get rid of all your excess junk.
- Less house means less cleaning.
- You spend less on insurance, utilities, and taxes.
- It’s easier to find a smaller home in urban areas where you can be close to the action.
- Living with less means a smaller carbon footprint.
- Many people find that downsizing frees up their life for traveling or other interests.
- The net amount you gain from downsizing your home can contribute to your retirement.
Cleaning Out Your Belongings
When it comes to getting rid of junk around the house, it can be tough for a lot of people. When you have emotions or memories connected to items, you may feel like you are being disrespectful when giving them away. However, the things we own are just that — things. Even if something was a gift from a loved one, you are not required to keep it. If it no longer has a purpose in your life, let it go. This is also a great time to take a good, hard look at some of the bigger items in your house. Is that extra sofa past its prime? Maybe it’s time to let it go. Is your mattress old, lumpy, and a little uncomfortable? If it’s been at least five years since you purchased one, it might be time to get a new mattress; after all, experts suggest replacing it every seven to 10 years. If nothing else, it’s one less thing you have to take with you.
Author and organizational expert Marie Kondo talks about this in her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While the book doesn’t focus on senior downsizing, it does teach people how to recognize when something doesn’t have a place in your home anymore. Kondo instructs her clients to thank the item for its service before letting it go. This can be a helpful tool when you’re clearing out your belongings before moving to a smaller home.
Looking for a New Home
It’s probably been a fair amount of time since you last searched for a new house. In your younger years, you likely bought your house with your family in mind — especially your kids’ needs. This time around, you get to pick out exactly what you want and do it on your time frame. Because of these factors, you should be excited about house hunting. Of course, don’t let your excitement get in the way of rational decision making.
Before you even look at a listing, set your priorities. Some retirees may want to pad their nest egg a bit, so finding an affordable smaller home is crucial. Look into how much homes are in your area — for instance, on average, homes in Encinitas, Calif., sell for around $541/sq. foot. Other retirees may not have to worry about the finances as much, but they really want to move somewhere closer to family. The profits made from downsizing can be used to fund a cross-country move. Whatever your priorities are, identify them and keep them in the front of your mind throughout your hunt.
When you enter retirement, a lot of things in your life change. Downsizing your home can be one of those changes while facilitating an easier transition into retirement. Moving to a smaller house reduces the amount of effort you have to put into your living situation. The hardest part for a lot of people is getting rid of their belongings that they connect to memories and emotions. May you consider to let go of the past and embrace the future and your new life as a retiree.