The number of Americans downsizing to smaller homes has reached impressive numbers over the past few years. In fact, 46 percent of baby boomers who sold their homes in 2017 were in the process of downsizing, according to a Zillow report. People downsize for a lot of reasons: retirement, divorce, saving money, or just tired of maintaining a large space.
Moving into a smaller home for a fresh start may sound easy, but if you’re planning on downsizing in the near future a bit of planning is a good thing. I’ve helped many clients here in the Arlington, Virginia area find their downsizing dream, and noticed there are a few universal issues everyone should plan for to ensure a smooth transition.
Location Still Rules
Even if you’re now an empty nester, location is still key because it’s a major factor in your home’s value. No matter how large or small, your home is still an asset, so location will always be a consideration. Even though you don’t have children to account for, buying a home in a high-value neighborhood, in a good school district, and with proximity to major highways, shopping and dining are all things you should look for in a home.
Plan for the future
The kids have moved out, you’ve planned well, and you’re retiring early. Your lifestyle now is probably a lot different than it will be in 10, 15 or 20 years. So if you’re looking for a forever home to spend your retirement years, consider future needs you might have. Single-level homes are best, or at least ones with the master suites on the ground floor. Handicap accessible entries and at least one bathroom should also be on your list. Even if you live to be 100 and are still running marathons, who wants to go up and down stairs 20 times a day for laundry or clean 2,000 square feet of space every week?
Declutter and fit your stuff to your new space
If your downsizing plans are still a few years away, you can start on this step right now. Go through your home and decide what furniture in your home will move with you, and what will be given away or sold. Declutter things that have built up over the years by slowing cleaning out room-by-room.
Donate or sell the closets full of gifts you never used. Go through years of paperwork files and shred anything you don’t need anymore. Spring clean your closet and give away anything you haven’t worn for over two years. Ask your kids if they really want you to save your dining set for them. Usually they would rather have the money and purchase something to their own tastes, so sell the dining set and give them the proceeds. If your goal is to downsize your home by 50 percent, see if you can declutter and get rid of half your stuff.
Shop for your lifestyle needs
Think about what lifestyle you want to embrace as you move forward. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, downsizing your living space will work but you might want to plan for larger garage or storage space for things like kayaks, bicycles, or camping gear. Extensive travel plans? A home with a small apartment or “mother-in-law” space will allow you to accommodate house sitters as you circle the globe. If you love to garden and can’t imagine life without it, a full-time condo on the beach probably won’t work so well.
When you decide it’s time to downsize, be sure to work with an experienced Realtor who will take the time to understand your vision for this next stage of home ownership and help you with everything from finding the right home to navigating the timing of your transition. Downsizing into a smaller home often consists of timing issues that require considerable thought and planning. The right real estate agent can put together a seamless plan to fit your lifestyle and needs. If you have questions about retiring or moving to Arlington, Virginia or nearby please feel free to give me a call at 703-593-6320, I’m here to help!