05/16/2017 by Deb Federico
5 Downsizing Strategies Into Retirement
Downsizing can seem like a challenge at first glance, but it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at our best downsizing strategies to make the process easier!
Retirement can be an exciting time. Without having to work any longer, you’re free to spend your time as you wish. You can volunteer, travel, pursue new hobbies, and visit with friends and family. Retirement can also be a stressful time because it’s a time of change. As we reach retirement age, it’s important to think about where we want to live. There are a number of options:
- Living with a child or other family or friend
- Living in an assisted-care facility or retirement home
- Aging in place
For many, the last option holds the most appeal because it allows them to retain their independence. However, if you plan to age in place–that is, in your own home–you might need to downsize. 67% of homeowners age 65+who plan to move will downsize. There’s a key word in that statement: plan. Having a plan, or downsizing strategies, can help you make the most out of your new home without enduring undue stress. We have five downsizing strategies that will not only keep you sane during the process but also help you maximize your retirement living arrangements:
- Health: Buy a home that will be easy to get around.
- Financials: Should you rent or buy? If you buy, how much should you spend?
- Stress: Take enough time.
- Priorities: Make a list of what features you need vs. want in your new home.
- Maintenance: What can you do vs. what can you hire someone to do?
Let’s take these one by one and examine them. Keep reading to learn how to downsize.
Health is One of the Most Important Considerations When Downsizing
If you have your health, you have everything. Well, okay, maybe not everything. You still need a roof over your head, food on your table. But health is important because it not only defines your independence but can also impact your happiness. Making the decision to downsize while healthy means you have to think about what it will be like if your health or mobility situation changes. For example, stairs within the house or leading to the front door might not be a problem now, but what if they become a problem later? Downsizing to a one-level home, or a home that has a bedroom, full bathroom, and laundry room accessible on the main level can allow you to enjoy aging in place.
You don’t want to find yourself land rich and cash poor. Balancing your assets is as important in retirement as it is before then. If you own an expensive house that requires a lot of money either to keep up with the mortgage or other costs of living, then you might find yourself in a bind. Traveling might be difficult. If you have to pay for medical expenses, you might find yourself strapped for cash. The fact is that money does matter. So how do you downsize and keep yours?
Renting vs. Buying
Renting can be a good way to keep costs down. While rent might match a monthly mortgage, you could end up with fewer household expenses. You shouldn’t have to mow the lawn or shovel snow. That’s why downsizers between the ages of 55 and 64 are renting more and buying less. Renting, like all things, also has some drawbacks. For example, you might have less control over what changes you can make to suit your style. There’s always the chance rent might increase. If you decide to rent, make sure to account for some increases that may occur to your bills. However, renting can leave you with more available cash, which can make retirement feel more comfortable. If you decide to buy a new home, consider setting your new home budget at half of what you sell your current home for. This may give you some financial freedom that you were not anticipating. Know that you will need to set aside money for repairs down the road or minor renovations, such as a ramp or grab bars. This would be a great time for you to speak to a financial advisor if you don’t have one.
Give Yourself Time
How long does it take to implement downsizing strategies? It can be different for everyone, but if you give yourself the time you need, it can significantly reduce your stress. It may take time to get used to the idea of living in a smaller space. You may need time to say goodbye to the memories of your current home, especially if you’ve lived there a long time. You may need a few months to organize and prepare if you are downsizing from a larger home.
List Your Priorities
Even though you’re downsizing, your home still has to meet the needs of your lifestyle. Make a list of those features you need in a new home, and which you want. This will make it easier to assess which new homes are right for you.
Will you have to maintain your lawn? What about the outside of your home? Or keeping the inside clean? What can you handle yourself, and what will you hire others to do? Keep in mind that if your health changes, you may need to hire people to help you with maintenance you used to do yourself. Of all these downsizing strategies, you don’t want to forget this one. Knowing how much it will cost to maintain your new home can help you age in place. You deserve to enjoy retirement. The decision to move to a smaller home can be a big one, but you don’t have to go it alone. If you still have questions about downsizing, I invite you to contact me. I would love to help you enjoy health and happiness in your retirement years.