Your children have grown up and are out on their own. Empty bedrooms, quiet mealtimes, less chaos – life has changed drastically from the past several years. This may have you wondering if now is the time to move to a smaller home. There are many things to consider when making such a huge leap. Before putting that For Sale sign in the yard, ask yourself a few questions.
Are you downsizing because you think this is supposed to be the next stage in your life or because it would give you more money, time and freedom? Just because some of your friends have sold the big family home and moved into a lower maintenance townhouse or smaller home, is that how you want to spend your Golden Years? First decide what kind of lifestyle you want to have, and what it would take to achieve it. Do you want to live in a community for seniors or do you like the sound of kids playing nearby? Many 55+ communities offer an abundance of activities for their residents. However, there are also restrictions when living in such communities.
Location, location, location! We are all familiar with this saying in the Real Estate world. There are many things to consider when it comes to finding the right location if you decide to downsize. One thing to consider is the age of your children. Are they still in college? If so, where will they be living when they graduate? Many college graduates move back home while looking for that new career. Will you have space for them? What if they decide to take a job in another city or state? If your children are older and have families of their own, do you want to be close by to help with the grandkids? Keep in mind that depending where your children are living, if you are not nearby, there may be travel expenses to add to the budget. Also, conveniences such as shopping, entertainment and medical are even more important at this time of life. As people age they tend to prefer to keep trips shorter and closer to home.
Another thing to think about is the cost of selling and moving as well as the cost of your new home. A smaller home will save you money on property taxes, utilities and overall upkeep. There are costs that will be involved in both the moving process as well as the purchase of your new home. Are you going to be paying cash for a new home or take out a mortgage? This is a great time to talk to your tax advisor and see what your options are. With interest rates so low many seniors will buy a property with a small mortgage so that they have more cash at their disposal. This is not the time for surprises. Make sure to know how much money you will be receiving after your house sale and what the cost of your new home will be before making a final decision. The cost of a brand new home with all the bells and whistles might be higher than what you were thinking. Selling an older home might not net you as much as you had planned. This is a great time to work out a budget and see if moving to a smaller home really is the best idea for you.
There will be both physical and emotional needs to consider while making this decision. Do you have family heirlooms that may not fit into your new home? Are you willing to downsize your “stuff” as well as your home? Where are the family holidays and get-togethers held? Will your children and their families be coming to visit? Do you want to have space for them to stay in your new home?
These are just some of the things to start considering – and planning for – when looking at the possibility of downsizing your home. Many “Empty Nesters” find out that they would prefer to have a medium size home so that it is not such a drastic change. Downsizing does not mean you have to give up everything you have enjoyed over the years. Finding that perfect new home can give you the best of both worlds – less cost and maintenance and still be comfortable for your day-to-day living. Check with your trusted Realtor to see how they can help you in making this decision.
By Leigh Ann Jones, ABR, GRI
Lake & Lifestyle Realty