Living the Downsizing Dream: When Is the Right Time to Leave Your Old Family Home?

It’s common for retirees to downsize their homes once the kids are out of the house, but few realize that delaying this decision by even a few years can create some serious problems when it comes time to sell. Those who plan on downsizing don’t need to start looking for a Realtor immediately, but they should read on to find out about a few of the signs it’s time to consider leaving the family home.

Rising Monthly Expenses

While consumers are still working, minor raises in rent or property taxes may not create too much of a financial burden, but retirees live on fixed incomes. They shouldn’t be spending more than 30% of their monthly budgets on housing. Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable options when it comes to senior housing, so downsizing and moving into a new place doesn’t have to mean giving up the comforts of home.

Falling Behind on Home Maintenance

Homeownership comes with a good deal of responsibility. While renters can rely on landlords to provide ongoing maintenance and repair any damage that comes up over the course of normal life, homeowners take full responsibility for the state of their properties. As property owners age, tasks like maintaining the home and its landscape, repairing minor damage, and finding contractors to handle larger jobs can require more of homeowners’ time, energy, and money.

If home maintenance is starting to feel impossible, it might be time to consider putting the property up for sale. Moving to a rental property or even an assisted living community will allow seniors to free up time, money, and energy spent on maintaining their properties for more enjoyable tasks.

Mobility Problems

Aging in place requires a lot more planning than most homeowners assume. Mobility problems become more prevalent as consumers enter old age, and the average residential home is full of potential dangers.

If the family home has multiple stories, those stairs can pose a safety hazard. If the bathroom is too small, it might be impossible to access the space safely with a wheelchair or walker. Retrofitting an existing home to be mobility-friendly can cost a small fortune, but moving to a house, apartment, or residential living facility that can already accommodate mobility-impaired residents typically frees up money.

Changing Demographics

A perfect home for raising kids in a family-friendly neighbourhood may be great for young couples but as homeowners age and their kids move out, owners tend to sell. This may lead to demographic changes such as neighbourhoods that skew much younger, which can be isolating for seniors.

If beloved friends and neighbours have all moved away, it leaves other aging residents feeling lonely and out of place. Loneliness can have a dramatic negative impact on health and wellbeing, especially in old age, so it makes more sense to find a co-living arrangement, assisted living facility, or senior community that will provide plenty of social stimulation than to stubbornly hold onto the same family home.

The Bottom Line

Seniors choose to downsize for a wide variety of reasons. Ultimately, there’s no wrong time to sell a home or finish out a lease and move to greener pastures. Just don’t wait for too long, as issues like failing to keep up with home maintenance, rising costs of living, and the burdens of social isolation will all take their toll.

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