Making the decision to move from a larger home to a smaller one can be very hard. Your home, after all, is a source of comfort and is filled with beloved memories. For many, it's where you watched your family grow.
But sometimes you may not have a choice, especially as the years go by. As an older adult, the practicality of downsizing may outweigh the sentimental value and familiarity of your current, larger home. What follows are some signs that the time may be right for you to downsize to a smaller home.
- The maintenance is too much
Keeping a well-maintained larger home requires a lot of work. Whether it's yard chores, replacing broken roof shingles or other jobs outside and inside the home, the upkeep can leave you exhausted.
Or, perhaps you're simply no longer able to do certain household maintenance tasks due to age-related physical ailments.
The solution is to hire others to do the job or ask family members who may or may not have the time or skill. But whether you're living by yourself or with someone else, maintaining a larger home may become overwhelming.
- It's harder to get around
Mobility problems are common for older adults. It may be harder to get up and down the stairs or even just move around the home the way you used to.
If you notice that getting around the house has become a pain, a downsize to a smaller, one-level property can make daily life easier.
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- You've retired
Retirement is a common motivator for older adults to downsize homes. If you've retired or are planning to soon, you may want to decrease your annual expenses while making sure you have enough saved for the rest of your retirement.
Moving into a smaller home or independent living community can cut down on your mortgage, taxes and insurance payments, leaving a cushion in your bank accounts.
- It's harder to find things
Just because you're having a harder time finding things around the house doesn't mean you're experiencing cognitive issues such as dementia. But it may be a sign that you have too much stuff, some of which you don't need anymore.
Downsizing will force you to prioritize your possessions and hang on only to what's most meaningful and what you really need.
Whether you're living alone or not, loneliness can become a factor in a larger home, especially after your children have moved out or moved far enough away that they can only visit infrequently, or if your spouse has passed away.
Downsizing and moving into a retirement community will not only lighten your load and responsibilities, but it also can revive your social life, providing a built-in network of neighbors and new acquaintances.
- Your larger home is no longer affordable
If your mortgage payment and utility bills are creating financial strain now that you're no longer working, a downsize to a smaller home can be a smart solution. Selling your larger home may provide financial relief. Plus, being free from the financial burden should boost your overall well-being.
If a downsize is definitely in your future, it's important to plan ahead. Give yourself six months to a year before your move to start the following de-cluttering process.
- Get rid of obvious items such as old canceled checks, outdated food and dry goods, clothes and other extraneous items that are taking up space.
- Ask your accountant or tax expert about what records you need to retain. And make sure important documents -- such as wills, birth certificates and passports -- are filed away securely, perhaps in a safety deposit box.
- Plan a monthly de-clutter session so the downsizing process doesn't become too overwhelming. You'll be able to get rid of a lot of things right away before having to decide what to do with those possessions that hold strong emotional value.
There are a lot of reasons why downsizing from the home you've known for years or even decades can be difficult. But when staying in a larger home becomes more of a burden than not, the answer to whether you should be clear.