As couples watch their children leave the nest, they are increasingly “downsizing” to homes with less space, maintenance, and expense. But a new term, “resizing,” has emerged for this season of life. Resizing can be less demanding for couples and better suit their needs. Let’s retrofit our thinking about where to live once the kids are gone.
The essence of downsizing
Many couples downsize to reduce expenses. With the financial responsibilities of raising children over, older homeowners can lower their expenses even more by moving to a smaller dwelling to reduce their house payments and cut the cost of home maintenance. Downsizers should remember, however, that as home prices spiral ever upward, lowering their costs may not be easy as it sounds. Sure, you may have built sizeable equity in your home over the years, but that equity may not get you far if home prices are much higher than you anticipated.
Resizing may be the solution
Even if you don’t need to cut expenses, you may still find that the house in which you raised your children no longer works for you. In that case, resizing to a home that better suits your needs may be a good way to adapt to a new season of life. But before you start packing, ask yourself these questions.
- Even if your kids are moving into adulthood, is there a chance they may move home again?
- Does your current house have rooms you rarely use since the kids moved out?
- Do your kids come home for overnight visits frequently enough to justify the expense of keeping the home they grew up in?
- If you move somewhere smaller, will you have enough space to host your kids — not to mention grandkids — when they come calling?
- What features will you need in your home as you age?
Renovating your existing home
Resizing could mean renovating your existing home. You can make changes that ensure your home will meet your needs as you age such as widening doors, eliminating shower thresholds, adding grab bars and replacing cabinet, drawer and door handles. The equity you’ve built through the years may allow you to fund these improvements with an equity line of credit.
Buying a new home
Rightsizing may mean buying and moving to a new place. Keep in mind, though, that another existing home may require the same renovations your old house did to incorporate the design features you want. If that’s the case, why sell one renovation project for another? Unless other factors are at play, such as moving closer to kids and grandkids, it may make more sense to stay in your current home and renovate.
Your optimal rightsizing option may be hiring a builder to create a new home for you that has the features you need now and in the future. Today’s architects and builders are very skilled at using space efficiently, so you may be able to build a smaller home that meets your special needs and still has space to accommodate visiting family. With new construction, you will have a warranty, major repairs won’t be needed for decades and you can enjoy a home that really suits you. Depending on where you build, your new neighborhood may even offer special amenities or activities appropriate for your stage of life.