Real Estate FAQ: Should We Downsize Right After Retiring?

May 19, 2021
Real Estate FAQ: Should We Downsize Right After Retiring?

Congratulations - retirement is just around the corner, bringing with it new days of freedom and opportunity! For many, retirement is associated with a bucket list of new places and experiences to try, from traveling on a European river cruise to writing a book to picking up a new hobby or sport. This stage of life can also be associated with downsizing from the family home to something more manageable and efficient for those traveling and experiencing more.

So when is the time right to make the transition to a new, smaller home? While this answer may differ, there are a few situations to think about that might dictate that it's time to start browsing for the perfect space to downsize to.

There's Just Too Much Space

While a five-bedroom house might have made sense when all of the kids were home at one time, too much space can be a lot to maintain over time, especially when it comes to activities like routine maintenance and cleaning. If your home is too much space to take care of over the long-term, it may be time to move on to the next chapter.

That doesn't mean that you have to live in to a one-bedroom bungalow, however. Consider how many bedrooms your next home should be by thinking about the number of guests who spend the night in your home and how frequently. If your sister and her family come in to town at least once a month to stay, and that is important to you, then a three-bedroom home may be an efficient option that is smaller than what you currently live in.

In general, if downsizing seems like the best choice in this scenario, consider ways that you could host more guests in a smaller space. Place a futon in your living room, or make space in one spare room for an air mattress, or extra bedding. Take this opportunity to talk to your family about making the choice that is best for you when it comes to the kind of upkeep you want to manage over time.

Saving Both Stress and Money

Downsizing to a smaller home can save money tremendously on things like your mortgage, lawn care, property taxes and utilities. If you are looking to spend your retirement years traveling and trying new things, then being able to put back extra savings each month could allow you far more freedom to explore.

When looking at this option, do the math and consider whether the cost of moving, living in a new neighborhood, and purchasing a new and smaller property outweighs the cost of staying in your current residence. If the difference barely budges or the market is not favorable, then downsizing may not be the best option…yet. Getting a home appraisal performed is the best way to see what your home may actually be worth to crunch the numbers.

A Different Lifestyle Awaits

Retirement brings with it the ability to pursue the avenues you've always wanted to try. With that, can come a different lifestyle. If you want to be able to spend more time golfing, swimming, or walking, then it might be advantageous to seek out a community that also focuses on these activities.

There are other lifestyle considerations to make, such as climate. Many people prefer to spend cooler winter months in a state that stays warm most of the year. Contemplate what lifestyle factors will compliment your goals and see if there is an option that helps make them happen.

You're Looking for a Different Property-Type

If you've been maintaining a large home for an extended period of time, moving to a more functional apartment, condo or even 55+ community might be a low-upkeep option with a lot of new activities to explore. With this, can also come new neighborhood and community fees as a tradeoff, so ensure that you get a full list of the items you will have to pay for and compare them with the cost of the upkeep on your home now.

Another option to consider with a different property type is mobility and your health. If your master bedroom is on the second level of your home or you have to park your car downstairs and walk up to reach your living space, you may want to consider if these are activities that you will be able to continue doing 10 or 15 years down the road. A smaller ranch-style home or a first-level condominium may be a more efficient choice for the future.

The Time is Right to Relocate

If your closest family or children have been living in another state and you find yourself traveling long distances to see them more and more often, the time may be right to uproot and move closer to loved ones now that a job is no longer holding you in a physical location.

While finding a place to live that meets lifestyle needs is a great way to expand your horizons in retirement, it can be hard to start afresh and connect with new friends or live far away from close family. Keep these possibilities in mind when deciding whether you want to both downsize and move to another state.

Finally, The Grass Isn't Always Greener

It can be hard to say goodbye to a home that has been in the family for a long time. If you feel the pressure to downsize in this season of your life, remember that this chapter of retirement is about making the decisions that will bring you the best quality of life as you have more time out of the office.

Make an inventory of the must-haves for a potential new home, including things like proximity to family, as well as a budget of multiple options, which includes the cost and upkeep of your current property. Finally, remember that there is no rush. After you've considered every factor, you may realize that downsizing is a great option - just not yet.

If Georgia is on your mind as a potential state to spend your retirement, our best-in-class real estate agents are experts in the downsizing process and available to help you make the decision that makes the most sense for your unique home buying and selling journey. Take a look at our buying and selling guides here to see a full rundown of what the entire process would look like, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our agents.