Empty nesters

What are empty nesters?

Empty nesters are parents whose children have grown up and moved out. When that happens, the reaction of parents is often called the “empty nest syndrome,” a feeling of grief and loneliness after their children leave home.

If they are living in a large house or apartment that accommodated their entire family, they may be in the market for a smaller home or apartment.

Deeper definition

When the last child of a family goes off to college or takes an out-of-town job, the parents become empty nesters. In many cases, they search for a smaller dwelling.

If a child returns home, the term may still apply because on special circumstances such as the child living in a garage apartment cut off from the rest of the house.

If the parents are right-sizing, they might choose a community where lawn and home maintenance are handled by outside contractors.

Empty nesters may be in the market for a new home or apartment, but not necessarily to move into a smaller dwelling. They might want to move closer to their children or grandchildren.

Weather might be another factor in empty nesters checking out the housing market. If they live in a cold-weather city, they might want to move to one in a warmer climate. Or, they might want to buy a vacation home.

Many empty nesters find that their physical needs have changed over time. For some, features such as ramps for wheelchairs or mobility scooters are important to deal with health issues they’re having as they grow older.

Even if they don’t have health issues, they might want to modify their home, adding railings in the shower, nonskid flooring or handheld flexible shower heads.

In all cases, long-term retirement plans can help empty nesters afford possible changes to their homes and their lives.

Empty nesters example

Ruth and Harry raised their two children in a suburban home outside of Milwaukee for 25 years.

Their 24-year-old daughter, Lynn, got married two years ago and moved with her husband, who took a job in Kansas City.

Their 18-year-old son, David, was accepted at Vanderbilt University and moved into a dorm room there.

The couple decided that their first step would be to search for a townhome or condo to rent that matches their new lifestyle. They plan to stay in Milwaukee for now but didn’t rule out moving to a warm-weather city in the future.


Other RetirementTerms

More From Bankrate