Retirement is the perfect time to downsize your home. During this special time in your life, you don’t want a lot of stuff and responsibilities weighing you down. A smaller home means less maintenance — you don’t have to clean, repair, and keep up with as much square footage. Furthermore, a smaller home means smaller bills, including insurance, utilities, and taxes. And when you have less home to take care of, that frees up time and money that you can spend doing the things you love during retirement. If you’re interested in downsizing in your senior years, use the following tips to help the process go smoothly.
Know What to Expect
According to CNBC, older Americans who are entering the real estate market need to be aware of how competitive it can be, particularly when you’re shopping for a smaller home. Just because you’re downsizing in square footage doesn’t necessarily mean your new home will be worthless. Home values went up 8.7 percent in 2018 and are expected to rise an additional 6.5 percent within the following year — and much of the competition is for the smaller, lower-priced houses. If you want to avoid sticker shock, research average selling prices in your area for the last month. For instance, in Laguna Niguel, the median selling price for a home is $770,000.
If one of your downsizing goals is to free up cash for retirement, buying a new home may not be the right move. Consider renting an apartment or condominium instead. Renting in retirement isn’t for everyone, but it has its benefits. For one, you aren’t responsible for property maintenance. When you rent a property, you don’t have to pay taxes on it, and renter’s insurance is substantially cheaper compared to homeowner’s. Furthermore, many rental properties come with a community that can help prevent isolation and loneliness in seniors.
Clean It Out
The less you have to move, the easier this whole process will be. With that in mind, be absolutely ruthless when going through your belongings and deciding what to get rid of before you move. Feel free to chuck out old, worn-out stuff and invest in new models once you’ve settled into your new space. For instance, if you’ve had your mattress for seven to 10 years, it’s time to replace. When shopping for a new mattress, look for one that distributes your body weight and reduces pressure to prevent back pain in your senior years. Check online reviews before purchasing to make sure you get a good deal.
Now is also the perfect time to have family members come over to claim heirlooms and other treasured items. Just because you don’t want them doesn’t mean your kids or grandkids might not want them. Give yourself plenty of time when it comes to cleaning out your items so family members have enough to visit, sort through items, and take them.
For many seniors, it’s been years since the last time they moved. Being organized when packing up your house ensures that unpacking will be less of a mess so you can get back to living as soon as possible. After you’ve packed a box, write down the room it was in, plus a brief description of what’s inside. When you’re finally in the new place, set boxes down in their corresponding area so you don’t have to move them around too much before unpacking.
Downsizing provides many seniors with the freedom they want to enjoy their retirement. Because of the competitive housing market, a smaller house may not be cheaper than the one you sell. If you want to downsize to free up cash, consider renting so you don’t have to make a huge investment into your living situation. Give yourself plenty of time to clean out your belongings so your family has time to visit and claim the heirlooms they wish to keep. Be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of stuff and treat yourself to new versions that are more supportive of your needs throughout your senior years.
By Michael Longsdon