For more American seniors, downsizing is increasingly becoming a trend among the Baby Boomer and Silent Generation sets. Companies that specialize in downsizing help for seniors are popping up across the country. Google “downsizing for seniors” and you’ll find hundreds of results, tips, tricks – and lots of questions.
Questions like, if I’m a senior, should I be downsizing now? What are the advantages of downsizing for seniors? And possibly the most common: How do I get started?
Whew! It’s understandable that seniors and their family members may quickly feel overwhelmed by all this. So like downsizing itself, we’ll tackle these questions one small step at a time.
Should I downsize now?
That depends on your local housing market – but across the country, real estate prices have been doing nothing but going up. As a result, many older adults are selling their larger, more expensive homes to buy something with a smaller, more affordable floor plan.
How many older adults are taking this approach? According to a 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report conducted by the National Association of Realtors® Research Group, 13% of seniors between 64 and 72 years old who bought a new home in 2019 did it to downsize to a smaller home. That figure rose to 17% for older adults between 73 and 93.
What are the advantages of downsizing for older adults?
There are many advantages, actually:
- You can choose the house you need now, not the house you needed 40 years ago. Back when the kids were little, you probably selected a house based on school district, your commute time, number of stories for extra bedrooms and bathrooms, whether it had a basement for the kids to play in, and if the yard offered enough space for games of tag or a treehouse. Now, you’re starting to worry about upkeep on the lawn, climbing all those flights of stairs to do the laundry or go to bed, and stepping in and out of that treacherous tub every morning.
Your needs have changed – perhaps your house should, too.
- Smaller homes usually mean more affordable homes. With less square footage, you have less to maintain, less to clean and less space to furnish. Heating and cooling bills are much lower. A smaller home lot equates to a smaller yard to mow or rake (and maybe a smaller driveway to shovel and de-ice in the winter months).
- Your quality of life can greatly improve. Your family home isn’t home to your family anymore. And chances are good your neighbors and your neighborhood have changed over the years. Consequently, you may find you’re feeling more alone and isolated. If you downsize to a one-bedroom in an independent senior living community like Oak Trace, you’re living among people with similar interests, life experiences and backgrounds – and friendly neighbors are always just outside your door, ready to engage when you are.
- You’re giving a gift to yourself and your family members. Older adults often hold on to possessions, thinking their children, grandchildren or other relatives will want those items. But unless you ask your family members what they may want, you might be hanging onto things for no reason.
So have the conversation with them now. Ask your family members if they’d like to put their names on a few items that are meaningful to them. And if you’re ready, give those items to the designated person. You’ll know your item went to a place it will be loved – and it’s one less item to move, donate, sell or discard.
Also, when you downsize, you won’t leave a house full of things for your children to sift through. You’ll be the one who decides what will happen to your things and you’ll know what loved one received which treasured items. And, you’ll have reduced the stress emotionally and physically on your family and friends, who ordinarily would be the ones left to deal with your personal belongings.
How do I get started with the process of downsizing?
Here’s where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, because getting started can truly be the hardest part. Again, as we said at the beginning, take just one small step to begin. The emphasis here is on small.
- Look small. As in, look at smaller living spaces before you start. You’ll get a good idea of the footprint you’re dealing with. For example, at Oak Trace, we have four different one-bedroom apartment floor plans varying in square footage and layouts, so you have options in how your furniture and other possessions will work in your space.
- Start early. Right now is a great time to get started. Because when you start early, before you have to make a move, you can take your time and put your full focus on your downsizing process.
- Designate a place for the big items before you move them. Packing and moving is easy if you just throw everything haphazardly into the moving truck. But if you’re moving into a smaller space, you’ll have less space to stage and unpack boxes.
So once you pick out a floor plan, get familiar with the square footage. Measure the floor space of each piece of furniture. And think about which pieces you treasure and must bring, and which ones you can let go of. Think of moving like bricks and mortar: Big pieces of furniture are the bricks. Then fill in with smaller pieces, like mortar, once you get the large pieces identified and in the right spots.
- Eliminate the rooms you no longer have. If you currently have a den, three bedrooms, three bathrooms and an attic – but don’t have these rooms in your new home – consider what to do with those rooms’ worth of unwanted items. For example, they can be sold in a yard sale, donated or discarded.
- Pace yourself. If you start early, you can take your time. You didn’t accumulate all these items overnight. You won’t go through it all overnight, either. And that’s perfectly ok. If you want to enlist friends or family members to help, do it. If you’d rather go through everything on your own, do that. It’s your home, and your possessions, you should get to decide what happens to it. The whole goal is to make your life easier once you’re done – that same rule of thumb should apply to the process of downsizing, too.
Downsize to Oak Trace.
Regardless of which one of our floor plans you choose, you’ll enjoy all the community benefits. To learn more, call us at 1.888.679.2568 or fill out the form on this page.