Rightsizing Your Home for Retirement

March 29, 2019

Retirement is a time of change. More free time, different hobbies and, for some, a new home. But whether “new” means a smaller or larger abode depends on the needs and wants of each retiree. While there was a time when “living large” drove American desires for big cars and even bigger houses, that’s not necessarily the case now. There are some who prefer the freedom and convenience of living simply in a cozier home, whereas others still relish the prestige of a larger place.

The Upside of Upsizing

A more spacious home makes sense for retirees eager for visitors and those open to sharing their space with generations of family, whether full time or just for vacations and holidays. Although a multigenerational household requires dealing with other people’s schedules, needs and pet peeves, the perks can add up. Grandparents who aren’t working outside the home might help with childcare and meal preparation, easing the burden for their adult children. Older people who have trouble making ends meet can find that moving in with their adult, retired children is less costly than traditional senior housing. Plus, they will have a built-in social network.

Living Large by Living Small

Retirees and empty-nesters have been downsizing or “smart-sizing” for decades in a bid to use their income as wisely as possible. This demographic often sells larger houses in favor of a mortgage-free lifestyle with less maintenance. Really, they’re permanently reducing one of the biggest fixed expenses they’ll encounter: housing costs. And with their children out on their own, homeowners are giving up their five-bedroom house in the suburbs in favor of a two-bedroom condo on the beach that is much more appealing to them. Saturdays can be spent collecting seashells rather than mowing the lawn.

Many of those who voluntarily downsize can afford a big car and a larger house, but they’re doing the math and finding that living with less doesn’t necessarily mean going without. For instance, a smaller home may mean less yard and housework and more time and energy to pursue things you truly enjoy. It’s not necessarily about making do with less; instead the trend is about making room for what makes you happy.

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