Is downsizing right for you?

If there is one thing I have learned over the years it is that there is not one size fits all housing solution for retirees. There isn’t a retirement age either. We used to assume that when we reach a certain age we will retire and want a smaller house. I have had clients who wanted to move into larger houses during retirement. They wanted space for family gatherings and for children and grandchildren.

You don’t have to move just because you are retiring. You can stay where you are. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it if that is what you want to do.

Downsizing is an option for those who can afford it. Buying and selling can be stressful but it has always worked out for my clients.

downsizing info graphic
Perks of downsizing

Call or write for a free consultation if you are interested in downsizing in the next year or so.

Baby boomers own a lot of real estate, when will they sell.

The boomer housing sell off is going to be gradual but will drop 9.2 million homes in the next 10 years . . according to Freddie Mac.

  • Declining boomer ownership will free up 9.2 million homes by 2035, a Freddie Mac report found.
  • The 32 million homes owned by boomers will drop to 23 million by 2035, when the oldest members of the group are pushing 90.
  • Homeownership rates “gradually starting to decline as households age beyond age 75,” the report said.

“The offloading of homes will accelerate in the 2030s as boomers reach the ages of 70 to 80, Freddie Mac said, based on an analysis using American Consumer Survey data. The 32 million homes owned by the generation as of 2022 will drop to 23 million in 2035, when the oldest boomers will be close to 90 years old.” [Business Insider]

. . . but don’t start making plans or knitting little things because this model is based upon the trends of former generations and so far the baby boom generation has been unpredictable and doesn’t always follow their elders.


Need more storage or less stuff?

self storage

As an adult, I have always lived in a smallish space. As the owner of an old (historic) house, I have never had a lot of closet space. I have gotten used to storing what we need and resisting the urge to buy or to hang onto stuff that will be stored most of the time.

There are a couple of options for storage. One would be a bigger house, another is using a storage space off site, and having less stuff to store.

Having less stuff to store is the best option for us. It is by far the least expensive option.

Before moving to a larger home consider how you are using your space today. Do you have a lot of stuff? Is there a lot of dead storage? (Dead storage is space where items that never get used are stored forever)

During my first decade as an empty nester I worked hard to get my adult off spring to take their stuff. It finally happened and I haven’t been in any rush to fill up the storage space they left behind.

If you have items in your home that you have not used in years give them away or sell them. If your children have left some of their stuff behind make them take responsibility for it. We are never too young to learn how to manage our stuff.

Downsizing in a year or in a couple of weeks

storage containersAll too often downsizing happens after a homeowner ends up in a nursing home or after they die. As a homeowner and a mother, I made the decision long ago that I would take responsibility for my own stuff while I am still able to deal with it.

I have less stuff. I buy less stuff and I have gotten rid of many items that were stored in the basement or shed for years. When I had to move my parents out of their condo I had to figure out what to do with all of their stuff. Some of it ended up in my basement and some of it remains, ten years later.

There was furniture that I was going to “upcycle”.  Clothing that for some reason I just couldn’t part with. I got rid of stuff that I brought with me when I went off to college.  I sold a few items. Gave items to family members who put them to use. I recycled a few items and donated items to charity.

Sometimes older homeowners decide to move. If you are over 55 and have lived in the same house for 20 years or more give yourself some time to downsize. When the process is compressed due to an emergency we don’t always make the best choices. When we have time to think and plan the process goes much more smoothly.

We live in a society and culture where it is very easy to accumulate stuff and difficult to get rid of it. Some folks just toss it in the trash. That isn’t even as easy or inexpensive as it once was. Getting rid of stuff takes more time and planning than accumulating stuff ever did.

Getting a home ready to sell is all about cleaning and decluttering. Homeowners who plan ahead and allow enough time for both have a better and more stressfree experience.

There comes a point in our lives when “stuff” is more of a burden than a blessing.

Know where you want to live before you sell

Craftsman style living rooms
Living room – Craftsman style bungalow

Seniors who are planning to downsize, rightsize, or move often start the process by asking what they need to do to sell their house. They want to know how much it will sell for and what they can do to get top dollar for it and they will need that information.

In the current sellers market the first step for people who wish to move is to decide where they want to go.

  • Choose a housing style. That might be a condo or townhouse or an apartment or a house.
  • Choose a neighborhood or area. Not all housing styles are available in all neighborhoods.

Choosing a housing style or neighborhood can be done in any order. Often people choose an area and then they choose from the housing styles available in the neighborhood.

  • Decide how much to spend.
  • Make sure the desired housing is available.

Sometimes it is hard to find a house that is or will be on the market that is a good fit. It is a good idea to figure this out before putting your current home on the market.

In today’s local market home sellers have an advantage. They are calling the shots. Buyers on the other hand are competing with other buyers over fewer houses.

Some buyers who are downsizing buy before they sell. Not everyone is in a position to do that. Most people put their house on the market while they are looking for another home.

Putting a house on the market is just one part of the process. It can take time to come up with a plan for where to move to, which type of housing to buy or rent, and when to put your house on the market.

Storage container season begins today

storage containersI like to think of it as the cycle of consumerism. People buy “stuff’ to give as gifts during the holidays. We all get gifts. Some will sit in a drawer for the rest of our lives.

If you go to a big box store today like Target, you will see displays of storage containers. Some are red or green or both and those are for Christmas decorations. There are clear plastic tubs and a large assortment of baskets and boxes.

Don’t buy the storage containers. Sure there are a few things we need to store like holiday decorations and seasonal clothing.

Rethink what goes into the containers and why. Most of us have too much stuff which is why I think of storage containers as the enemy. I have a tall stack of empty storage containers in my basement. They were all full at one point. I have no memory of what was in them.

I gave some of the stuff away and donated some to charity. Some of it was recycled and some of it ended up in the trash.  I do enjoy looking at the empty containers.

Resist the temptation to buy storage containers for items that you do not want or need. Get rid of the excess stuff that sits in storage. Make some space for nothing or for something that matters.