- Jim Vogel
Downsizing Your Home: A Starter Guide for Seniors
Seniors and millennials might differ vastly in terms of age groups, but they do share an interest in a popular trend: downsizing. People of all ages are increasingly expressing interest in moving into a smaller home, which has practical and financial benefits. Find out why you might want to consider scaling down in preparation for your senior years—and how to best go about it—by following along with this guide.
Focus on the benefits of downsizing
Downsizing has numerous advantages. A smaller home requires less upkeep; from mowing the lawn to mopping and vacuuming, regular maintenance can get tiresome as you get older and less energetic. Tasks requiring strength, like mowing the lawn, can become downright difficult as sarcopenia, the natural muscle loss that comes with age, occurs. A compact home means an easier everyday life.
Moving to a smaller property also offers financial benefits. If you are renting a smaller space, the monthly fee will be lower. If you sell a large home and buy a smaller, more affordable one, you will have extra funds to save or invest as you see fit. You also don’t have to deal with the costs of maintaining a large property, such as hiring lawn care professionals (which costs an average of $83 per visit in Chicago) or dealing with repairs like a leaky roof.
Choose your new home wisely
You have three main options when downsizing. The most obvious choice is to sell your larger house and move to a smaller one. Opt for a single-story property since stairs can be dangerous for seniors. Visit a real estate website, and get an idea of how much your property will sell for by looking at similar sales listings in your area. You can also do this to assess what a smaller property in your location of choice will cost to determine what you can easily afford.
Another option is to move to an assisted living facility. Here, you will be surrounded by other people and have many opportunities to socialize, which helps stave off loneliness and even dementia. Again, do the math: Will the money from a sale be enough to cover the monthly costs of assisted living for years to come? If not, would it make more sense to rent out your home so you have a steady income stream—and can sell if the property value increases in the future?
If neither renting or selling makes sense, you may choose to keep the home in the family. If the property is large enough, you can even share it with other people. They will also take part of the burden of household chores and maintenance costs off your shoulders. This is among the reasons the “golden girls” trend, which refers to seniors living with roommates, has gained in popularity.
Tackle the downsizing process
Whichever of the above options you choose, you will have to pare down your belongings to accommodate a smaller space. Lifehacker offers useful tips like nixing all duplicates and selling what you can. Don’t force yourself to get rid of sentimental items; if there is no space for them, put them in storage. Prices for storage in major cities like Chicago can be steep, so keep an eye out for sign-up deals to save.
With this measured approach to downsizing your home, you can take a daunting process and make it manageable. As you weigh your options, also consider emotional aspects: Where will you feel happiest as you age? Maybe being surrounded by like-minded seniors is a priority, or perhaps you are intent on being close to family. These elements are just as important as the practical and financial aspects noted above.