So now you’re retired: Kids are out of the house. Alarm clocks are quiet. Schedule is free. You might be walking around your home thinking, “Gosh, we have a lot of space.”

Retirement is a new chapter in life, and many see it as a chance to try something different and exciting.

These days, some retirees decide to move out of their hometown and try a new destination. Others decide to downsize to free up money and space as they enter this new era.

 
 

Downsizing after retirement is a big change. Owning a home has been hardwired into the American dream, but home ownership without a predictable stream of income can become very expensive and overwhelming.

To optimize your retirement years, you might consider downsizing into a smaller home or apartment to minimize costs and increase quality of life. Retirement communities open up a totally new living experience that automates all aspects of home maintenance and provide a way to meet new friends.

Deciding about your preferred type of home for retirement depends on non-financial needs as well. Talk to your partner and have a clear goal of what type of life you want before deciding on the style of home you’ll downsize into. All the while you should make sure that your emotional needs are also being met.

Downsizing After Retirement: How to Start

Estimate your cash-flow needs, and set a budget for renting vs. home ownership, net of taxes, etc. Compare relative costs of home prices vs. monthly rents vs. retirement community fees.

Compare costs of current home maintenance, property taxes, insurance and HOA fees. Consider where you want to live: Same city? Closer to grandkids? Somewhere warm?

Home, Apartment or Retirement Community

Do you want to keep up with a house and all its needs? Or do you prefer the convenience turn-key appeal of an apartment complex or retirement community? How close do you want to be to family? Are you planning on traveling often? Here are some perks for each living situation:

House

  • unlimited storage space
  • private yard
  • free to expand, build pool, etc.
  • won’t be pushed out unexpectedly by landlord
  • pets allowed

Apartment

  • lock up and go
  • peace of mind regarding security 24/7
  • usually amenities on-site (gym, sauna, etc.)
  • no long-term commitment (1- to 2-year rental agreements)

Retirement Community

  • lock up and go
  • peace of mind regarding security 24/7
  • community of like-minded individuals
  • usually health care, lifestyle services, amenities, recreation and entertainment available

Downsizing After Retirement Dilemma: Buy or Rent?

When it comes to renting vs. buying, first decide whether you view your next home as a potential investment opportunity or just another cost of living. Setting realistic goals to appropriately plan for your retirement housing costs will help you decide whether you buy or rent.

Buy

Buying will give you a long-term mortgage with full control of improvements, maintenance, repairs, renovations. You will be financially responsible for insurance, taxes, maintenance, utilities, landscaping, cleaning, repairs and so on. This is definitely a long-term commitment.

Rent

Renting offers low maintenance costs where monthly expenses remain predictable. The landlord is responsible for repairs, maintenance and taxes, and it is a short-term commitment.

Downsizing 101

When the moving process begins, break all possessions down into categories. These are keep, sell/giveaway and discard. Don’t make the mistake of giving away essentials: cleaning products, shower curtains and towels you’ll need on day 1.

Study the floor plan of your new home to evaluate the amount of furniture and items that fit in each room. Take the time to choose the most functional and special pieces you will still utilize.

Are you planning to move to a new living situation once you have retired? Have you considered living in a retirement community? Have you decided to downsize in retirement? Do you think that downsizing after retirement is a good idea? Please share your thoughts and experiences below!

Aleksandra MarcotteAleksandra Marcotte is the VP of Marketing for eRetirements, a resource that finds the ideal retirement destination for Baby Boomers. As an Army brat, she knows a thing or two about relocating and the importance of choosing the right city so it feels like home. Aleksandra is a writer, entrepreneur and youth mentor.

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