The children have moved out of the house and are starting lives of their own. Your daughter calls asking if she can have her favorite sofa and bedroom set for her new apartment. Perhaps this home, though filled with memories, is now too big for your needs. Life stages lead to different needs. What was once appropriate for a growing family - the large yard, bonus room, and pool table in the basement - may no longer fit serve the upcoming chapter in your life. You begin to wonder if it’s time to adjust your living space.
Downsizing, rightsizing, or otherwise moving near or in retirement is a big decision. Here are a few signs that it’s time to consider a move to a new home.
Personal Reasons It Might be Time to Downsize:
1) You have rooms that remain empty most of the time. If you have closed-up the basement or upstairs because you no longer use that space, it might be a sign you could move to a home with smaller square footage. While those rooms sit empty, you must clean, heat and cool the space, costing you additional money each month.
2) Yard work is more of a chore than a pleasure. Gardening and yard work are expensive to hire out and labor intensive to do yourself. Spending your weekends doing yard work can prevent you from enjoying other activities now that you have more time to yourself. Aging bodies may have more trouble doing tasks that were once pleasurable. Perhaps a container garden on a window sill or walks in the park or along greenways will give you the pleasure of being in nature without the work.
3) Children no longer live close. When friends and family begin to settle in new places, it can be a sign that you might be happier relocating as well. At the end of your career, you have more control over your cost of living because you do not need to consider the location of the home in relation to your job or schools. You can choose a condo in the middle of the action, a city with a warmer climate, or someplace closer to children and grandchildren.
4) Health and mobility needs change. One of the most common reasons to move to a new residence is finding the right house that will allow you to live independently as long as possible. Older homes can have higher maintenance and lack the amenities needed as you age. Stairs, upstairs bedrooms, narrow doorways, and small bathrooms are all common features in older houses which make it difficult to remain independent for the long term. Newer homes are more likely to have features that provide for your long-term needs.
5) Want a different climate. So many seniors flock to Florida for the warm weather in the winter and return north in the summer they have become affectionately known as snowbirds. Regardless of where children end up moving, many baby boomers are looking for warmer weather to spend retirement. Whether you choose to move to Florida, Arizona, or another state with more amiable climate, once you quit working you have the freedom to move where you want and save money in the process.
Financial Reasons It Might Be Time to Downsize:
1) Loss of a job. Losing a job after 50 can end a career prematurely and may make it very difficult to find equivalent work. Whether you find yourself in forced retirement or hunting for the next job opportunity, moving can preserve your lifestyle without becoming a financial crisis. Dipping into retirement money early to pay for expensive housing can lead to major financial challenges down the road.
2) Spending more than you earn. When credit card balances rise rather than fall, or you find yourself dipping into savings each month, a move can help preserve assets longer. In the last couple of years, the real estate market has seen a resurgence in home values, providing an opportunity to cash in on your home equity and reduce monthly housing costs.
3) You are considering tapping Social Security early. Taking Social Security at the age of 62 can be costly because it permanently reduces your payout. With the average life expectancy growing, you will most likely get a greater benefit from delaying Social Security payments. Leaving retirement funds from your 401K, IRA, pension, and social security to grow for several more years will give you significantly more money during retirement. Moving to a lower cost home can allow you to leave, pensions, retirement funds, and social security in place longer.
4) Inadequate retirement savings. Lowering the cost of housing is one way to free up money for additional retirement contributions each month. Those over 50 can benefit from catch-up savings thresholds, for both work and personal retirement accounts, allowing you to contribute more the years leading up to retirement. A home with smaller square footage tends to have lower utility bills. Newer homes have lower maintenance costs and lower utility costs because they are more energy efficient. A lower priced home could allow you to reduce or eliminate the mortgage.
5) Having too much debt. Carrying debt into retirement will run through savings faster because you have a higher cost of living. Debt such as credit card payments and a mortgage can be hard to maintain on a lower income, reducing your quality of life in retirement. Moving can be a way to get bills under control, reduce debt faster, and lower your overall housing costs in retirement.
Downsizing can be a liberating. Getting rid of stuff and living a simpler life can free up time and energy for more fun and allow you to enjoy your time doing the things you love. Consider if you need the square footage you have or if you might benefit from moving into a newer, smaller home.
If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis. Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs. You don’t have to struggle with high-interest credit card debt any longer. Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website.