Smaller is Better: Downsizing for Retirement

Making the long-awaited move to retirement is exciting and much-anticipated for many, and it’s usually accompanied with the move to a simplified post-retirement life – and simpler housing options. Here’s how to make it a smooth transition…

Bringing the Big Picture in Your Mind Into Reality

1. Think cash flow, not location.

Cash flow is one the primary concerns of most retirees when planning their next move – and that’s wise considering that housing is still the biggest expense post-retirement, no matter what stage of life.

2. If you choose to downsize, make it count.

There are a lot of good reasons to trade a large family home for a smaller home, townhouse or condo – from walking away with more money after building up years of equity to reducing home maintenance and utility costs.

3. Envision your after-work life – and plan accordingly.

Today’s retirees are far from the sit in the rocking chair and play with the grandkids type. Many have done substantially well and are retiring much younger than age 65. Instead, they’re taking snowboard lessons, traveling the world, and maybe even starting new business ventures. Maintaining a big house often doesn’t jive with this new lifestyle, so think about housing choices that do – such as a condo that includes outside maintenance, or a high-rise with concierge service.

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4. Embrace different community options.

Homebuilders are offering multiple options for retirees and older adults who prefer to “age in place” without giving up being part of a community. Think integrated senior living into master planned developments that include salons, community dining areas, and fitness centers that are designed to bring people together.

5. Downsize your stuff first.

Let’s face it: We all have a lot of stuff, and the more we have, the more room we need to store it – which is contraindicative to a simpler post-retirement way of life.  Sarah Susanka noted architect and the author of “The Not So Big House,” has said that being selective about the things you bring to a smaller space frees you to focus more on beautiful architectural details, materials, and higher quality furnishings.

6. Focus on adaptable, multipurpose spaces.

Formal dining and living areas have become less important in favor of more open floor plans – and especially so when downsizing when there’s less stuff to put in them. Instead, think in terms of flexible spaces you’ll use every day – like smaller kitchens you can add a long table and some candles for larger gatherings; small office spaces configured inside unused closets, and window seats to create reading nooks and more personal spaces.

7. Think of creative storage ideas.

Use nooks and crannies to maximize storage space. Design storage that aligns with the place where items are used – like a coffee corner with cups and espresso machines, or a baking center with trays and mixers.

At the end of the day, downsizing isn’t about sacrifice but more about making thoughtful decisions about what you really need to enjoy life post-retirement. Keep an open mind, figure out what life after work looks like for you, and finding a comfortable space you love – yet aren’t burdened by – will come naturally.

Find out more

Considering your next home purchase? Check out the resources on myHouseby: We can help with your research, save you valuable time, and make it easier for you to discover and find the right home for your lifestyle.

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