When is it Time to Downsize Your Home?

Baby Boomer Population

There are approximately 76 million people born between 1946 and 1964, so another Baby Boomer turns 50 every seven seconds. As such a large group of people near retirement age, many are making plans as to how to stretch their income and live comfortably. This has caused many people to consider downsizing their homes and often changing locations.

For most people their home is their most valuable financial asset. The statistics for the homeowners from 50 years and older show 80% are homeowners, and the bulk of them have home equity. Some people have their homes paid off. However, only 17 percent of Americans over the age of 55 believe they will have an adequate amount of income to live on in their retirement years. Some people work extra years or seek part-time employment for the extra income.

Do You Still Need This Much Space?

Source

G.I. Generation VS Baby Boomers

The G.I. generation avoided debt and saved money, so combining money (usually a tradition pension) with social security provided adequate income for their retirement years.

Baby Boomers, on the other hand, have often faced vanishing 401(K) money and other funds they have invested unwisely. In addition, there is the possibility that Congress will reduce Social Security benefits, which as a Baby Boomer I find very annoying as I have worked since 15 years if age contributing to that fund.

Many Baby Boomers are willing to shoulder too much debt, which keeps them working longer or having less retirement income. However, many other boomers plan to move to a smaller home and seek a less simple, less expensive lifestyle.

Financial Reasons to Downsize

People typically decide to sell their homes for financial reasons or practical reasons. With proper planning many people upgrade their home through the years, so they can receive an optimal price when they decide to sell.

More than 80 percent of people between the ages of 50 to 64 have an adequate amount of home equity. The goal is certainly to reduce your mortgage payment, but it is ideal to eliminate a mortgage altogether. Purchasing a smaller house with a smaller mortgage is financially beneficial, which increases your financial security.

Some people find this difficult for sentimental reasons if they have lived in the same home for many years, especially if they move a long distance away. While downsizing makes financial sense, it can be difficult for some to move, make new friends and learn their way around a new community.

Traveling Modular Home

archidir - This may not be the answer for everyone.
archidir - This may not be the answer for everyone.

Empty Nest Syndrome

Another of the major practical reasons occur when the children move out of the home, and a couple simply has more square footage then than they need. Often they may have bedrooms that are not used and a large yard that requires a great deal of work.

Home maintenance is much easier in a smaller home. Moving to a smaller home or condo easily reduces these problems. Additionally, in the senior years many people lose their mates. A senior citizen who lives alone often moves to a more functional setting.

Baby Boomer Location Choices

Some people enjoy moving into a retirement community with people of their own age. Many of the retirement communities are near beaches and golf courses. There are many benefits to living in these communities, such as new friends and senior community activities. There is no yard-work and many seniors enjoy this carefree life. Health problems are another reason that people are drawn to retirement communities. For example, the stairs in a two-story home may become a big challenge. It is important to choose a community that is designed for people as they age. Some independent living facilities also offer cleaning and dining services.

As criminals often prey on the elderly, retirement communities also often have locked gates and a guard at the entrance. This provides security at night or when you are on vacation.

Many baby boomers have been attracted to college towns, particularly in the south. Some people like to start a second career, which takes further education. This choice also offers entertainent through clubs and other activities, such as golf.

Other people want to live in a warmer climate when they retire. They are tired of shoveling snow, and many choose a sunnier climate where they can play golf or just take walks on pleasant days. The cost of living is also lower in many of the southern states. As an example, certainly a lower heating bill is a plus. Florida and Arizona are common choices.

The Benefits of Downsizing in Retirement

Summary

The reality is that if you are getting close to 50 and have not made a retirement plan, than it is time to make plans, as well as, lifestyle changes. It is difficult to work extra jobs as you age, so the earlier you plan the better your chances are to have adequate income for those retirement years. You may think twice about buying that new TV or boat. Making wise financial choices now will help you tremendously in the future.

© 2014 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 55 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

I have written about this often, how the average home is now 2,480 feet when it once was 940.....and why? Why is that space "needed?" Well, the reality is that it is not needed...it is wanted.

Bev and I live in 1,000 square feet and we are going to downsize to 700 in two years....so from our standpoint yes, baby boomers should downsize.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

These days, it's less a matter of "should boomers downsize" than "CAN boomers downsize". Too many took out second mortgages and selling out is not as easy as it used to be, or if they can sell, they may not get as much as they'd like (or need) from the sale.

For those who can, it's silly not to downsize, especially if for empty-nesters. The one sure way to prevent grown children from coming back to the nest is to move to a place that has no room for them.

It's also silly to keep a now-too-large home mainly to have a place for the kids and grandkids to gather at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Time to start a new tradition of gathering at the homes of the kids instead!

If downsizing means not having to work an extra job to keep up a nearly empty house and its yard, I say go for it! Even better is if downsizing means one doesn't have to work at all! ;-}


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 2 years ago from Arlington, TX

If I down size anymore I'll be living in a tent :)

The Frog


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Hi Pamela, great hub! I agree, down sizing is the sensible way for many reasons, as you have explained. Some people, however; will find it a bit of a wrench leaving their homes, but they must balance the pros and cons. This is something many of us should be considering.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Billy, People so often can't retire because they needed so much as you stated. We paid our home off several years ago, and it is just an ordinary size home, which is plenty of space for us. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

JamaGenes, I agree with you completely. It is too much work to maintain a large house and why should an older person have to work at all? I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Great! That means you don't have too much yard work to do and can do the things you enjoy. I appreciate the comment.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jo, Now that the housing market is doing a bit better a couple has a better chance of getting a better price for their house.. I think this is a topic many people are considering as I know some elderly couples in our church have moved into smaller homes that are easier to maintain, which is another important reason to donsider downsizing..Thanks so much for your comments.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I have downsized big-time. And perfectly happy to do so.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is useful information, Pamela. Your hub covers an important topic that many of us need to think about when we reach a certain stage in life!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Good informative hub for us baby boomers Pamela. Yes downsizing is the go. In Australia many retirees instead of going into retirement villages, sell up their houses and by motorhomes or caravans and take to the road travelling all over the country and staying where they want fr as long as they want. We call them the grey nomads and my wife and I may consder it when we have no pets. Voted up.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

We are in the process of downsizing as we head towards retirement. Yes, it's too much space and we seek a simpler lifestyle. Great post reflecting what most baby boomers are experiencing.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Audry, I have some friends that have been so glad they made the decision to downsize. Thanks so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Alicia, I was hoping this hub would make people think about their long range plans. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jodah, I think some people are doing the same thing here. They can spend time in various areas of the country for an extended period of time, which I would love to do. Thanks so much for sharing this trend and for your comments.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

The cost of living is increasing and still many people want the big homes large bedrooms and all that space costs money. It is a wonderful idea to live with basic needs and basic spaces a well-shared hub


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 2 years ago

This is a very sensible and informative hub. My husband and I are still in our home and loving it. We utilize every room and we have plenty of space for our grandchildren to visit and sleep over. When that changes, well see.....


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

Great article. I recently wrote one about the realities of retirement and I think folks should read them both!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

DDE, Your comments are so truel Thank you so much for your comment.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Pop, We are in our same home also, but since it is paid for and we care for my 90 year old mother, this seems practice for the time being. As we age we will probably downsize as this home is more worki. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Time Traveler, I will be interested in reding your article also. Thanks for your comments.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Downsizing is not for everyone. I need space. I can't imagine moving. I love to have room for family and friends, plus i just like a big house. I like to decorate and plant a garden. My sister downsized and she misses her home. So i guess it's a matter of choice. Interesting topic. Enjoyed reading...


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, I agree that it is a personal choice. I wrote the hub primarily for people who cannot afford to retire or those who have medical conditions and can't take care of their home. I appreciate your comments.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

In South Africa poverty or living from hand to mouth is the lot of the majority white Baby Boomers, since they were retrenched at the end of the Appartheids-era in order to meet the demands of legal affirmative actions. Whatever compensation they have received were not sufficient to maintain their standard of living. Starting their own businesses ended in bankruptcy, due to another affirmative action called Black Empowerment, meaning contracts for jobs are only available to black businessmen or companies with the majority black partners or directors.

So, white Baby Boomers were compelled to 'downsize' - sell their houses, cancel their medical insurance and retirement plans, etc. Today they reap the bitter fruit that were sown by their racist parents and grandparents.

The present and future of their children and grandchildren are bleak.

However, at the same time the previous disadvantaged had the opportunity to escape from the miserable circumstances they were in during the Appartheids era. And after all, this is fair. Sadly the majority black Baby Boomers are still living in poverty due to - oh, don't let me explain the phenomenon called "power corrupt'. (Read: greed turns those in power into fools.)

Nevertheless, justice is supposed to reign and reverse discrimination may hopefully come to an end in order for the strong to survive and flourish regardless of the colour of their skin.

What I am trying to say, in the time of my parents downsizing (among the whites) was a free and obviously best choice.

Oh, let me stop, Pamela! This excellent hub of yours made me realize how fortunate are those who are not forced by any unfortunate circumstances to 'downsize'.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Downsizing is a must in today’s world. I read Jodah’s comment about the “grey nomads” in Australia … this sounds like great fun. Excellent hub, Pam. When we retire, I just have two requests...I need a garden and reasonable access to the ocean.. :-)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Martie, Your country has been through such tough times. I don't think my hub is very applicable to South Africa. I wish the best for you and your family. I sure hope things improve and balance out between the races. I hope you are feeling better and I appreciate you taking the time to explain these circumstances.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Genna, I would think you could get exactly what is important to you when you retire. We are staying put for now since we built onto our home to take care of my 90 years old mother. We will probably downsize when the time is right. I love being near the ocean also. Thanks for your comments.


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

Pam, this certainly hits home here. The kids are gone and it's just my wife and I and our dog. We have enough equity in our home that perhaps we could downsize and have with a very small mortgage or even no mortgage. Definitely something we need to start talking about.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Bill, It sounds like you are in a position to make any decision that works for you and your wife. I appreciate your comments.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

Downsizing is probably a good idea for many--for financial and practical reasons--this was an excellent article!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Audrey, I think it is especially good for those who do not have enough money for retirement. Thank you so much for your kind comments.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Pam,

Wise, meaningful and well - detailed thoughts on this subject. The distinction between wants and needs is not only sensible, but necessary in today's world. Ironic that the more I think on the subject, the smaller my 'wants' list becomes. The 'stuff syndrome' feels heavy and complicated. I feel sadness when I see (especially younger) folks so obsessed with acquisition.

Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Maria, I feel the same way. I have some young family members that are buying houses that are way to expensive, What ever happened to starter houses? I am finding I want and expect less also. The times we live in have changed many of us. Thanks for your comments. Love, Pam


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida

I downsized a couple of years ago from a 3/2 house I had lived in for 35 years into a 1/1 apartment attached to one of my daugher's houses. It was built as a mother-in-law apartment for her hubby's mother. It was a life changing event for me, but I did it. I'm quite content now in my little apartment.

I just looked at the change as a new challenge in my life!

Voted this Hub UP, etc. and shared.


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

My hubby and I decided to downsize when my youngest moved to the university residence last year. We now have plenty of "togetherness" moment in the new (smaller) place. No more wasting the whole day cleaning up the house and the backyard and the money we're saving off maintenance expense, now goes to travel and road trips instead.

So yes, baby boomers should downsize.

P.S. We're not actually retired yet. Hubby's past 50 and I have few more years to hit that big "50". I wish to retire early though...maybe "55". I've been working since 16 and mind you, I'm kind of tired now of paying my taxes. :)


DealForALiving profile image

DealForALiving 2 years ago from Earth

I've thought about this a lot, even though I've got a ways to go before it's decision time. I really want to retire near a college town and continue to live young and be around that youthful energy.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

This is a great question whether we're baby boomers or not. It is disturbing to hear people say they can't afford to send their children to college due to the cost, yet who own (or lease) multiple automobiles, the latest cell phones, several flat screen TVs and a house large enough to serve as a community center. We could all benefit from a smaller footprint with less wasted space. I'm all for simplifying.


pocono foothills profile image

pocono foothills 2 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

Baby boomers don't need to downsize, they just need to earn more money. Anybody can do that.


roshall profile image

roshall 2 years ago from Ohio

I feel that most are downsizing. I know I will be when the time comes. Plus it gives younger families a chance to purchase without having to build new.


bettyshares profile image

bettyshares 2 years ago from Lighthearted Musings

Its true, that as one becomes aware of the need to live in a smaller space it can be necessary to look for a new home that is not so big.


blueheron profile image

blueheron 2 years ago from Odessa, MO

Many people on the east and west coasts, or who now live in urban centers, would be stunned at the low cost of housing in the rural Midwest. Some such rural communities are quite near cities with ample shopping and restaurants, so there is no need to sacrifice these amenities. Usually there is not much in the way of employment in rural communities, but this may not be a concern, if you're retired.

Some urban apartment dwellers may even find that such a move means upsizing. I suspect many New Yorkers would get lost in a trailer--and subsequently lost in their ten-acre yard.

I'm al in favor in downsizing--for everyone!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

I know others that have done that also. We built an addition on our house for my mother when she could no longer care for herself, so she has her own living room and bedroom. That has worked out very well. Thanks so much for sharing your experiene Mary. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

CrisSp, I think down sizing has advantages, like less house cleaning and yard work.You and your husband are thinking ahead of many, and I think that you made a good decision. I started work at also and feel the same way. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Deal, I think it is important to take all the facts into consideration. It sounds like you know what you want already, so that is good. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Peg, You make some excellent points. Thanks so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Pocono foothills, I do think some people have restrictions due to medical problems, which would impact their ability to earn more money. Others certainly have the choice. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

roshall, I hadn't thought about young people purchasing homes as a point to this hub, so thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Betty, It is an individual decision, but certainly true for many. I think the reason isn't necessarily always money, but they downsize to simplify their lives with homes that are easier to maintain. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Blue heron, That is an excellent point for retired people. There are some beautiful areas to live and considering a more to a new location is certainly possible for many people. I appreciate your comments.


blueheron profile image

blueheron 2 years ago from Odessa, MO

In recent years, I've seen foreclosed rural properties offered on eBay. One lakefront house in my community sat vacant for about five years. The bank's asking price had dropped to $20,000. The offered it on eBay and an out-of-state couple from the East bought it for $35,000.

Caveats for city folks looking for rural property: Sometimes there is no city water or rural public water service available--meaning you will have to arrange for water hauling to your cistern, and deal with a pump. (This situation is kind of unusual these days.) Rural areas, especially if they are not in towns, generally don't have public sewer systems, but rely on private septic systems. Or, you may have to pay to run a line to water service.

But the price--and the property tax rate--can definitely be right!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

blueheron, The prices sure sound good and many people do have wells with septic tanks. I guess it is a solution for some people and I appreciate your bringing this up. Thanks for your comments.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Lack of a water source (AND indoor plumbing!) is what kept I and a good friend from jointly purchasing an otherwise charming fixer-upper in a tiny burg in southwest Iowa several years ago. The price was right considering the amount of elbow grease that would be necessary to restore the house and yard to their original glory. Oddly, it's only occupants had been the town's GP (doctor) and his family who, I'm guessing because of the cost involved, never hooked up to the rural water system or installed an indoor toilet. Both deal breakers for me and my friend! ;D


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

JamaGenee, I can understand why you made those decisions. Thanks for sharing your experience.


tazzytamar profile image

tazzytamar 2 years ago from chichester

This was a wonderful read - I think that often people become so attached to their homes because it was the place they raised their children and developed a daily routine which they are now comfortable with that they don't think of how much easier life would be if they simply down-sized to a slightly smaller and more manageable property. Great hub! I look forward to reading more!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

razzytamar, I think you are right. I also think people generally don't like change. Thanks so much for your comments.

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