Downsizing Tips for Seniors

Your retirement years can be exciting and new when you pare down your expenses and begin a new chapter more simply.

For many older adults, moving to a smaller home makes financial and lifestyle sense. Once your children have grown, the expense and maintenance of multiple rooms that remain empty become unnecessary. Although there may be sentimental reasons to hold on to a family home, life is full of changes, and your retirement years can be exciting and new when you pare down your expenses and begin a new chapter more simply.

Determining if your house is too big for your needs

Do you have rooms that you never or rarely enter such as a formal living room or dining room? Do you have a finished basement that hasn’t seen a party in a decade? Are you an empty nester, with just two of you living in a four-bedroom, two-story colonial?

A ‘yes’ answer to any of these means that you probably can benefit through downsizing.

Think of what your actual needs are in housing. You likely want a comfortable bedroom, a family room for entertaining, and a large eat-in kitchen. Beyond these basics, maybe you’d like a study to use as a home office or for hobbies, and you might want a spare bedroom for guests or grandchildren. A home featuring all of these amenities can likely be found under 1,500 square feet or less.

A smaller home means much lower living expenses

A home that is 1,500 square feet or less has considerably lower overall carrying costs. Mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, maintenance, and repair costs are all keyed, in one way or another, to the size of the home. Even a poorly insulated smaller home will save owners a big chunk of money each year over a larger, more energy-efficient home. And if you are not using rooms, why pay each month to heat or cool the space? If you can successfully shave $1,000 a month off your living expenses through downsizing, you can direct the savings toward your retirement accounts for when you may need the extra funds.

A move can be a refreshing new start

Beyond the financial benefits of downsizing, the process of simplifying one’s life can provide clarity and peace. We all accumulate stuff throughout our lives and often feel guilt in tossing things away. Even if you are not hoarding, you likely still have a lot that you simply do not need. Imagine having a closet that only contains the clothing you currently wear or a garage that keeps your car out of the rain and snow and isn’t filled with years of unused miscellaneous things. Decluttering as part of downsizing is a major benefit for older adults.

Planning your move

Decluttering is a component of packing as part of your move. Before planning your move, think about what tasks you might be able to handle yourself. If you need assistance packing, moving companies are glad to help, but it will add to your expense. Make sure to research moving companies before making a hiring decision. Check out online reviews and speak to at least three companies. In addition to cost, see what services they provide. If they do not disassemble furniture, you may need to make additional arrangements.

While packing yourself can help you save on moving expenses, being organized in the process can also help speed up your unpacking. Follow some simple professional tips such as packing heavier items in smaller boxes and lighter items in larger boxes.

Downsizing makes sense for many older adults. With a solid plan, well-researched housing needs, and moving strategy, you can lower your costs and embark on a simpler lifestyle.