The Baby Boomers, the generation of people born between 1946-1964, make up 41% of the U.S Housing market today with an almost 80% homeownership rate. They are living and working longer than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations and are choosing to stay in their family homes well into their mid-seventies. The ability to age in place is a positive factor that will hopefully continue with future healthy generations, but it also means that retirees are oftentimes more conflicted on whether or not downsizing is the right move for them.
Many factors are at play when trying to decide if downsizing is the best option, which is why we often consult with people many years before they actually make the decision to move.
Transitioning out of a family home with a lifetime’s worth of memories (and stuff) can be difficult and we know from experience that the earlier you start planning a move, the less stressful it will be when the time comes. We’ve created a list of top factors to be mindful of when planning to downsize.
1. Health and Aging
It is the elephant in the room. It may be uncomfortable to think about but it is important to consider both your current health and what your health may look like in 5-10 years when thinking about downsizing. The facts of life are that health problems multiply as we age including mobility issues such as arthritis, dexterity and strength, memory issues, and all of the other age-related illnesses that catch up to us.
It helps to plan for even the unexpected which is why, even if it isn’t time to downsize, taking action now to declutter, manage deferred maintenance items, and to make home updates are all activities worth undertaking now. Be proactive about keeping your home current, decluttered and maintained. You will enjoy it more now and be in a better position when it comes time to sell in the future.
2. Reduce Home Maintenance And Simplify Your Lifestyle
If you live in a large home with a substantial yard and landscaping, you may ask yourself how long do I want to continue the yearly upkeep and maintenance? Even if you feel you are able to keep doing the maintenance health-wise, it helps to ask yourself if you still enjoy it. Do you still like mowing the lawn, raking leaves, cleaning gutters and plowing snow? If not, it may be time to think about downsizing.
A lot of downsizers cite a desire to reduce maintenance so that they can pursue more of their hobbies and visit family more frequently in retirement. Condominium and 55+ communities are great options for people in these scenarios. Also, moving from a larger two-story to a ranch style home on a smaller lot may be a way to free up time and money.
3. You Want To Live In A Warmer Climate Or Travel Part Of The Year
There is no shame in deciding to quit the Michigan winters for good! Many downsizers decide to buy a smaller home or even rent an apartment in Michigan so they have funds and time to buy a second home in a warmer climate. Downsizing may make your southern vacation villa dream an affordable reality!
Even if money is not the biggest factor, downsizing makes sense because leaving a larger home vacant is a worry and the carrying costs are high. Downsizing will allow you to worry less about your home and property so you can better enjoy your time away.
4. Decrease Your Costs of Ownership
In the past, a lot of downsizers were using the profits from the sale of their home to buy a smaller home with cash or else greatly reduce their mortgage payments. Nowadays with higher property taxes, increased home prices, and higher HOA fees, downsizing may not pad one’s retirement the way it used to.
In expanding metropolitan areas and popular mid-size towns like Ann Arbor, for instance, affordable inventory is still tight. The news is not all bad, however, because the market may be topping and increases in affordable inventory could be on the horizon. If the market is reaching its peak it may be the perfect time to sell your home before the value begins to depreciate as the market fills up with more inventory.
Moving to lower-cost areas of the country may also be a solution, though there are always trade-offs to consider. You may want to rent in the proposed new location for a season or two before moving ahead on a sale.
The number one reason we see people move when they are older is to be closer to children and grandchildren. Reduced maintenance, lower costs, and sunny weather are all great motivators, but none of them compare to the importance of family.
If spending time with siblings, kids, and grandkids is important to you, it may be time to pick up and move closer to them. Missing a grand child’s first steps is not an option! Helping out with the grandchildren provides a new mission and purpose for many grandparents and is their driving force.
If you do decide to downsize keep in mind that the square footage of your new home isn’t all that matters. Finding a floor-plan and community that you can age well in is key. Consider ditching the stairs, living in a community with amenities and maintenance, and living in-town close to shops and restaurants. Check out our guide to downsizing for more info on the “how-to’s” of the downsizing process and feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would like to receive a no-obligation market evaluation on your home!
Of course, staying right here in Ann Arbor is a great option too! Because of our health care, education and cultural amenities, Ann Arbor is consistently ranked as one of the top cities in the country for retirees.
Please reach out to us to discuss your downsizing plans. We are happy to meet on the phone or in-person to discuss any aspect of making a move, even if it is years into the future.