Make Downsizing Your Home After Retirement a Positive Experience


Moving homes is no easy task no matter when you do it. Downsizing your home after retirement, in particular, brings with it many potential stressors. However, if you plan ahead and consider these tips, you can avoid unnecessary headaches and look forward to your new, simpler lifestyle with positive emotions.

Carefully Assess the Financial Aspects of Downsizing Your Home After Retirement

Keep in mind that in order for downsizing to truly pay off financially, you need to actually downsize. This usually means that your new home will be significantly smaller, and you will need to part with a proportionate amount of your belongings in the process.

Many people overestimate what their current home is worth and underestimate what a smaller home—in addition to the costs associated with moving—will cost. These costs include:

  • The cost of selling
  • Closing costs on your new home
  • Moving, packing, and storage costs
  • Tax implications

Add to that list the financial implications of retirement in itself, and downsizing paradoxically may become a much more costly endeavor than you imagined. Avoid overestimating the value of your current home and underestimating the cost of your target new home by enlisting the services of an appraiser and an experienced real estate agent who can help you determine an appropriate listing price for your home. These professionals have experience dispassionately analyzing data without the emotional attachment to your current home that you have. Be sure to find an experienced real estate agent who understands the needs of clients like you, who are planning to downsize after retirement.

When looking to purchase a downsized home, be aware that you will likely be competing against other homebuyers, including first-time buyers. However, certain actions can put you at the advantage:

  • Selling your current home before making an offer on another home
  • Offering to pay for the home in cash
  • Picking a real estate agent who is a skilled negotiator

Plan Ahead to Make Downsizing Your Home a Positive Experience

Planning ahead will help ensure that you are positioned to make a move when factors are in your favor to do so. Such factors include:

  • Selling when the market is favorable for sellers
  • Buying when the market is favorable for buyers
  • Allowing yourself adequate time to part with belongings

Assess Your Long-Term Lifestyle Goals

Planning ahead will also allow you to thoroughly reflect on your next step. Rather than making a quick decision, make sure you have thought about the ideal location for your needs and wishes, including:

  • Access to healthcare for ongoing medical needs
  • Proximity to airports if you plan to travel,
  • Proximity to friends and family,
  • Suitable climate to make your retirement comfortable,
  • Buying vs. renting your next home
  • A single-family house, condo, or townhome

Prioritizing your lifestyle goals when reflecting on your next step ensures you will be comfortable in your next home for the long term.

Also keep in mind that, for various reasons, it becomes more difficult to move as we age. Our advanced years may bring us increased mobility limitations and decreased energy and desire to change our living situations.

Some communities designed for older adults give prospective residents the change to spend a few nights there in order to get a sense of what it would be like to live there. Take advantage of this opportunity if you can. This will take away some of the anxiety-provoking unknowns and allow you to look forward to your new space.

Consider All the Stuff

There are many philosophies to consider when it comes to parting with some of your belongings as you prepare to downsize. Some professionals recommend determining which rooms you will not have in your downsized space (such as extra bedrooms, a home office, or a home gym) and toss unneeded items room by room. And other experts, such as Marie Kondo, creator of the KonMari method, recommend going through items categorically and determining what to keep and what to part with based on whether it “sparks joy” or elicits a negative emotion.

But no matter which philosophy feels right to you, it’s a good idea to give yourself ample time to declutter and downsize your personal belongings to avoid added stresses of doing this after you have sold your home and your move is an imminent reality. What’s more, giving yourself time will allow you to acknowledge and move through your emotions that will inevitably come with getting rid of some meaningful belongings. Some ways to make this difficult process more manageable are to:

  • Place your hard-copy photos, videos, and other mementos on a hard drive. There are professional services that can even do this for you.
  • Involve your loved ones in the process. Invite your kids, grandkids, or other family members over. Spend some quality time reminiscing while you sort through belongings.
  • Offer furniture that you won’t need in your downsized home to your loved ones.
  • Consider making valuable collections, good china, or that crystal set your daughter admires into early legacy gifts.
  • For items that your family members don’t need, enlist their support as you list sellable items on sites such as LetGo, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay, and/or plan a garage sale.
  • Donate other items to charities such as Goodwill or Salvation Army (and be sure to keep your receipt for tax benefits.)
  • Be willing to admit what items are not likely to be wanted by others, and recycle what can be recycled and toss what cannot.

Downsizing Your Home in Northern Wisconsin and U.P. Michigan

If you are planning to downsize your home in northern Wisconsin or U.P. Michigan, the region boasts many experienced real estate professionals who can work with you as you determine your next steps. Pick up the latest issue of Up North Home Showcase to learn more about northern Wisconsin and U.P. Michigan real estate agents and to see listings of available homes in our region.

Share this post: