Retirement Real Estate Trend: Upsizing is the New Downsizing

The kids are out of the house, you’re officially empty nesters, now what? When it comes to your home, conventional wisdom used to say that it’s time to downsize. But that’s not so true today. As people ease into retirement, one trend we’re seeing here in the Arlington, Virginia area is upsizing homes, instead of downsizing.

While it used to be the norm for empty nesters to start thinking about downsizing to smaller homes, today’s trends are showing that retirement is a prime time for upsizing. In a 2020 survey, the National Association of Realtors found that 35% of people age 65 or above bought a 3,000-square-foot or larger home, an increase from only 23% in 2017. In addition, a Merrill Lynch and Age Wave retirement study found that 49% of retirees didn’t downsize in their last move, with 30% instead choosing to move to larger homes.

Why the upsizing trend?

Some of this trend could be attributed to older homebuyers’ expenses dropping due to changes in lifestyle that come with retirement and the kids moving out on their own. They are finished paying for college, sports, insurance, and all the usual expenses that teenagers and young adults incur. They also don’t have to worry about the quality of the school district where they live anymore, giving them greater flexibility to get more square footage for their money.

In addition to this, there are other factors that can play into this trend that make upsizing an attractive proposition for the retirement stage of life.

  • Some areas are still enjoying a hot real estate market, making it likely for profits if you sell that can then be used to greater advantage if moving to a location where your dollar has more purchasing power.
  • The pandemic changed how people live their lives, and how they plan for the future. Many people are still holding off on travel to spend more time at home. With more time spent at home, retirees may see a larger home as the perfect solution for hosting family and friends while also having space for new hobbies and activities.
  • Still others are thinking about upsizing to have the flexibility for long-term guests such as live-in caretakers or boomerang kids. In the Merrill Lynch study, retirees say a top reason for upsizing is to have a home that is large and comfortable enough for family members to visit and stay with them. Another reason is so family members can live with them, if needed. According to the survey, “one in six (16%) retirees has a ‘boomerang’ adult child who has moved back in.”
  • There is also something that many of us call the “grandchild scenario,” or the want to buy a larger home with plenty of attractions to entice grown children and grandchildren to visit.

If you are in the stage of life where you’re thinking about whether it’s time for a new home, remember that personal happiness is one of the best ways to measure whether you should upsize, downsize, or just stay the same. Think of the lifestyle you want and the best size and type of home that will support that lifestyle. And when you’re ready to start looking for a new home in Arlington, Virginia or the surrounding areas, I can help. I’ve lived and worked in this area as one of the leading Realtors for more than 30 years and I can help you find the right home for your retirement dreams. Give me a call at 703-593-6320 or email