How do you know when it’s time to downsize?

June 27, 2017

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Dear TZ,

Our children have moved out and the house is just too big for us. But we’re not planning to retire for a long time. Does it make sense for us to downsize?

Empty Nesters

Dear Nesters,

There are a lot of factors that go into your decision of whether or not to downsize.

First of all, what are your retirement plans? If you’re planning to move somewhere distant when you retire, downsizing now will make that move easier. If retirement is still along way in the future, you’ll save a lot of money by downsizing now.

Another factor is how much time you spend on your current home. If maintenance and upkeep take up more of your free time than you want, moving to smaller home will free up your weekends to do what you want. Many empty nesters find themselves living in less than half of their home. That’s a lot of housecleaning to do.

A third factor is how often you have overnight guests. If your children or extended family come to stay frequently, you might need those extra bedrooms that only get used a few times a year. Alternately, a hotel room once in a while is a lot more cost effective than maintaining a home you don’t use.

You will also need to consider home value. After the real estate bust in 2007, some homeowners postponed moving until their home regained its market value. With market conditions improving for several years, you might be pleasantly surprised at how much your home is worth. That extra cash could be a great nest egg for your retirement or could fund your retirement activities. Smaller houses are less expensive to maintain so you’ll continue to pad that nest egg until you’re ready to retire.

Finally, you need to consider between now and retirement. There are many options available for you. Many empty nesters find that a smaller home is a good first step to a retirement home. Some empty nesters enjoy the freedom of a 55+ community. Renting instead of buying could be an option for some.

If you’re thinking about downsizing, your first step is to contact a professinal real estate agent who can help you determing your home’s value so you can make an informed decision! Find more resources in our Downsizers Guide.

– Team Zuhl