Thinking About Retirement? Think About Downsizing First
You may discover that you too could dramatically change your life for the better
You're an empty nester and suddenly your four-bedroom home on a half-acre seems like too much … too much space, too much work and too much of a money pit. With retirement on the horizon, now may be the perfect time to think about downsizing your home.
The Upsides to Downsizing
Going smaller may seem like a step backward when you first think about it. If you're like most folks, you've been primed all your life to aim higher: bigger is better and square footage certainly counts when it comes to showing how successful you are. And, as we all know, there never seems to be enough space for all our stuff these days.
So why do so many soon-to-be retirees talk about downsizing? Clearly, they are enjoying some rewards for paring down. The first step to understanding those rewards is simply a matter of focusing on what you'll gain rather than what you'll lose.
The second step is understanding how to downsize without turning your life upside down. Read these 5 tips for staying sane when downsizing your home for retirement.
In other words, once you see all the upsides, you might find yourself thinking differently about the whole idea.
Here are some of those upsides, the main reasons older Americans are pushing to downsize their homes.
Freeing Up Your Time
Downsizing your home doesn't mean downsizing your lifestyle. In fact, most people find that, after moving to a smaller home, they have a lot more time for doing the things they love. The reasons range from less time spent on maintenance and cleaning to fewer possessions to keep organized.
You may not have realized it, but the time you spend each week keeping your large home in tip-top shape can really drain your schedule. Instead of cleaning all those extra rooms, wouldn't it be nice to travel more or try a new hobby? And instead of spending your Saturday afternoons tidying up your yard or dealing with contractors for repairs, wouldn't it be nice to jet off on some new adventure for the weekend?
Recirculating Treasured Items
You've been in your current home for years, maybe decades now. Chances are, you've accumulated more than a few treasures or family heirlooms that now seem to be gathering dust. You can't really throw them out, so wouldn't it be nice to find a new home for them… with someone close to you who might treasure them as you once did?
Downsizing is the perfect opportunity for recirculating some priceless items that no longer give you the satisfaction they once did. That leather-bound collection of Mark Twain's best work? Maybe your son-in-law would love it to add an old-world look to his new den. That set of lace tablecloths you never use? Your crafty niece might be able to turn them into something amazing with her skills. Or that oil painting you bought while in Aruba in 1976 — it would look perfect hanging in your grandchild's bedroom.
Offloading What You Don't Want
Right up there with family heirlooms, there's another collection of yours that's probably grown over the years: things you no longer need or want. Downsizing is the perfect time to weed them out of your life.
Unlike the treasured items, however, you may feel just fine about giving them to goodwill or simply throwing them away. Getting rid of things you don't want is a huge process itself and there are lots of online guides to downsizing your stuff.
You'll be surprised at how light and free you feel once this is done.
Upgrading Your Decor
While you're sorting through your things and deciding what to keep, don't forget the larger items in your home. Rugs, furniture, and other decor items can be sorted according to how happy they make you feel. Imagine your new home full of only your most-loved decor items. It's your chance to curate your own collection and come out with a whole new look!
It's also a chance to save some money while upgrading your décor. Read about the hidden cost of homeownership to see if you could be saving money,
Now for the more practical benefits of downsizing. For starters, you'll be using fewer resources in your new, smaller home. Less energy for heating and cooling and less water for lawn and garden upkeep are a few of the obvious factors that come into play.
Plus, consider the age of your new home. Newer building materials are far more efficient than those typically used in older homes. Newer homes usually have better energy performance on the following:
Bottom line: if you're moving to a smaller home, you're already greener. If you're also moving to a newer home, your energy consumption will probably go down even more. Consider it a "green upgrade"!
We saved this one for last, not because it's the best reason for downsizing but because it's a no-brainer. Some people downsize because it usually results in significant budget-boosting effects. As a retiree, you may be living on a fixed income, and it's nice to know you're not over-spending on your home.
Smaller homes are not only cheaper to heat and cool, you will likely save money on property taxes and rent or mortgage as well. If you move to a homeowner association, your lawn care, leaf raking, snow shoveling etc., will all be taken care of, plus the cost will probably include most of your current utilities and bills.
Everyone wants to retire comfortably, but do you really know what that means? Read this article and learn what you need to retire comfortably.
You Should Think About It
A final word: where and how you live are deeply personal choices in life. Not everyone benefits from the act of downsizing, so you should consider your own unique set of circumstances carefully and without pressure.
Finding time for self-reflection isn't always easy, but in this case it's well worth it. You may discover that you too could dramatically change your life for the better by downsizing — not because you have to, but because you want to.
Acts Retirement-Life Communities is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator and developer of continuing care retirement communities in the United States. Headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, Acts has a family of 23 retirement communities that serve approximately 8,500 residents and employ 6,200 in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. For more information about Acts visit actsretirement.org.