Are you among the many Baby Boomers who are considering downsizing and moving to a smaller, less expensive and more manageable home?
Downsizing is a term that most of us understand as describing the reduction of expenses (typically staff layoffs) in a business. In the US today, layoffs as part of downsizing are not uncommon and even in a robust economy where until recently, jobs were being added at a historic level, it still happens! But the term has also become familiar among empty nesters and Boomers as they move from parenting and career focus to retirement.
Saying goodbye to years of accumulated “stuff” and moving to a new home can be bittersweet. Moving for any reason can take a huge toll on the emotions but for Boomers who are leaving a home they’ve lived in for a long time, it can be especially difficult. It is stressful but at the same time, it signals a new beginning that can be wonderful.
When is it Time to Downsize?
When the kids are grown and on their own and careers are replaced with retirement, a large home probably won’t be as important as it once was. A large empty home can begin to feel cold and empty. The upkeep of the home may not be practical anymore. So, most Boomers eventually consider moving to a smaller home that is easier to maintain.
Most Boomers have two things in mind when they make the decision to downsize:
1. To reduce costs
2. To simplify life
When people remove old things from their lives and move on with the new, they can feel refreshed and in a way, unburdened. It is also a way to add freedom in one’s life especially at the time of retirement.
The Stress of Downsizing
It’s common for Boomers to make a move at some point after retirement for obvious reasons: economics being the most common. Yet, downsizing from the large home that was necessary while raising a family to a smaller home such as an apartment, is something most people will find hard to deal with and very stressful.
Packing up belongings and going through a lifetime’s worth of memories is bound to trigger both joy and sadness. The task of sorting through what to keep and what to throw away can be overwhelming.
Keep, Give or Throw Away?
There are memories and feelings attached to things making it hard to decide what to keep, give, or throwing away.
Obviously, there is going to be less space for things in a smaller home. When downsizing and moving into an independent or assisting living facility, Baby Boomers are sometimes surprised to learn that they can only bring the “essentials” with them. This single issue can cause many Boomers to think twice about making the move. However, downsizing can be a very practical thing to do and eliminating “stuff” is a necessary part of the process.
Getting rid of the things that are no longer needed can help Boomers ease into any future move. This is key when a senior is thinking about moving to an independent or assisted living facility. Eliminating unnecessary things will make the transition smoother.
So, what will you do with the items that won’t be coming with you to a new home? Large pieces of furniture, artwork, tools, and lawnmowers are not things you’ll need in your new, smaller home. Consider distributing valuables to family members. Adult children will appreciate the opportunity to take a lot of the things you’ll no longer need and they’ll likely have room for it in their homes.
Make donations to local non-profit organizations. Some appliances, furniture, and other household items can still be used by local crisis centers, recovery facilities or families in the area.
If you still have more stuff than you need you can sell it or move it to a storage facility.
7 Tips For Baby Boomers Who Are Downsizing
So now that you have decided to move to a smaller home, it’s time to think about the things that you’ll need to do as you prepare to move. Downsizing is not easy, but following a few tips will make things a bit easier for the senior.
Don’t Rush a Decision
Don’t be in a hurry. When it comes to downsizing, like anything else in life, timing is essential but you should never rush into decisions that are as important as this one. There are so many options to consider. Take your time to consider them all.
Moving is Expensive!
Sit down with your financial advisor, accountant, or a trusted friend or family member and look at your financial situation. Do you have the money you’ll need, or you need to find extra funds for retirement? Often, those funds come as a result of the sale of your home.
Know Why You’re Downsizing
The purpose is important. Really understanding why you’re making this decision, is crucial. When regrets pop up (and they will) or you begin second-guessing yourself it’s helpful to be able to remind yourself of the great reasons that led you to your decision. Write out your reasons and keep that list handy for when you need to review it.
Consider Your Family and Friends
The best decisions will result in benefits for family and friends. For example, will your new home be in a location that is convenient for them? If possible, your move should improve your ability to see the people who are important to you. Choose a neighborhood that is easy for them to come to you, and if you’re no longer driving, be sure to choose a location that has great access to public transportation.
It’s Your Decision
Where you live is your decision but be sure to discuss it with the important people in your life. Getting their perspective could be one of the best moves you’ll make in the process.
What Features are Important to you?
A new home can be fitted with things that will make life easier. Adding handrails in the bathroom, for example, is important for aging adults. The idea is to make the home a tailored fit for the needs of the senior.
Health Care and Hospitals
Consider health care and medical facilities. You likely have established relationships with doctors and you don’t want to lose those unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is one reason many seniors choose to stay close to the area where they have a history with medical professionals.
Additional Things to Consider…
- What type of retirement housing are you most interested in?
- Are you choosing an option that allows you to live alone or will you reside with someone else, such as a spouse?
- Are you capable of living alone, or do you require medical assistance or help with your daily activities?
- How much money can you comfortably afford to spend on retirement housing?
- Do you qualify for any public benefits, such as Medicaid or Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance, to help pay for housing?
- Are you seeking housing in a particular area?
- Are you interested in living close to family and friends?
- Does it make sense to choose housing where you can be around other residents your age?
- Do you need to live in an area close to public transportation?
- How will your decision affect your loved ones?