After your last child ventures out to pursue college or their new career, your big house seems a lot quieter – and doesn’t feel quite the same. When children grow up and move off on their own, many empty nesters start considering whether it’s time to make a change themselves. For many, the answer is to downsize.
Growing families need a lot of space, but once kids leave home that extra square footage can be more of a burden than a benefit. There are more maintenance and costs involved with a larger home, which can be better used to fund a relaxing retirement in a smaller home. But after years of living in a house that accommodated a full family downsizing can be a sizeable adjustment.
Use these tips for empty nesters to make the process easier before moving into a new home.
Assess What You Really Need for This Next Stage of Life
Life is changing in a lot of ways now that the kids have made the transition to adulthood. Now is the time to think about what your life is going to be like as an empty nester. Looking forward to the future can help you avoid empty nest syndrome and find a home that best suits your new needs.
What kind of decor do you want now that rambunctious kids aren’t a factor? Do you really need more than two bedrooms? Does your hobby require a dedicated space? Answering these questions can help you figure out what home life will look like in the years to come.
Purge Possessions You Don’t Need, Want or Use
Now that you’ve considered what kind of empty nest lifestyle you want to lead you’re in a good position to start purging. Getting rid of the things you no longer need, want or use makes downsizing much easier and gives you an accurate idea of how much space you realistically need.
- Start with a place where overflow clutter collects – the closets. There’s probably a number of items that haven’t seen the light of day for some time, which means you don’t really need them.
- Move on to the kitchen cabinets. Now that you aren’t feeding as many people you probably don’t need quite so many dishes and glasses. Some equipment may also be all but obsolete.
- Go through the garage. You’ve probably got a lot of things that you’ve simply been storing without ever using.
- Finally, declutter room-by-room in the rest of the house.
Word to the wise: before getting rid of kids’ old things pass it by them first. You never know what has a special meaning or they could use in their own homes.
Digitize Your Paperwork
Over the years we tend to collect a lot of paperwork that fills draws, boxes, and cabinets. With today’s technology, most of those papers aren’t necessary and are just taking up space. There are countless apps that can scan paperwork to create a digital file before it gets shred. Apps like Shoebox are also great for recording receipts you may need for taxes in the next several years.
Bonus downsizing tip: You may also want to take a similar approach with pictures to safeguard your memories.
Look for a New Home With an Ample Garage
Even though a smaller home might fit your needs as an empty nester, many buyers over 55 years old say an ample garage is still a top priority. A survey from PulteGroup found that a multi-car garage was one of the top five features for home buying Baby Boomers. It’s a great flex space that cost less per square foot and can provide extra storage if it was tough to purge some items.
You can find beautiful home designs with large garages and cozy living spaces using next-generation technology at myHouseby.com. All it takes is a few minutes to discover home plans you can personalize into the perfect empty nester retreat.