Tips for seniors looking to ditch the McMansion and embrace and enjoy their Golden Years with a smaller mortgage and bigger bank account.
Everyone envisions growing old at home. And while that home is usually the family home that’s been lived in for decades, there are a many great benefits to swapping a large property for a downsized version. Here are three quick tips on how to pick the right home and make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Purge and reemerge. Your first priority when downsizing is getting rid of all that stuff you’ve collected over the years. Consider the move an opportunity to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite things. The Minimalists explain that this is a way of life that can help you reclaim your time and live in the moment, since you won’t have so many meaningless material possessions taking up space on your mental and physical shelves. Keep only the essentials and donate or sell those items that don’t bring you joy. For instance, if you have two vacuum cleaners, let one go or, better yet, ditch them both and look for a home with hardwood. Money Crashers suggests donating your excess to worthy causes such as the Vietnam Veterans of America and your local homeless shelter.
2. Pick your perfect pad. Once you’ve decided which items to keep and which to let go, you can really start to think about your new home. You’ll need to reevaluate your “keep” pile when you finally find a new home, especially if it’s smaller than you had planned. The AARP notes there are many housing options for seniors and reports that age-restricted communities are an option if you’re healthy, active, and would rather live in close proximity to other seniors. In the Milwaukee area, you can expect to spend somewhere in the ballpark of $130,000 for a small house. When buying, consider the home’s features. A home that requires walking up tall steps may not be a long-term solution for your housing needs. Even if the property isn’t perfect, there are plenty of ways to modify each room to account for mobility issues, which are common with age. Angie’s List explains that a handicap accessible bathroom remodel costs approximately $20,000.
3. Moving made easy. The act of moving is often difficult for older adults. There are emotional memories tied to your house, and moving is a physically exhausting process. To make things less hectic, give yourself plenty of time to pack, plan, and prepare. Make a moving inventory of everything that needs to go, and interview at least three moving different companies. Before choosing your labor, get references and make sure you’re aware of any hidden fees that might not be included in your contract. You can save some money by packing yourself and, if you managed to purge your belongings, you’ll save even more. Hiring a professional moving company will not only save your back, but will also provide protection in case anything is lost or stolen during transit.
As for the emotional turmoil, remind yourself that you will make new memories and are giving yourself a new chapter to write…one that will allow you the freedom to travel, spend time with grandchildren, or live in a safer environment.
Whether you’re looking to move across town or across state lines, having a cozier place to call home is a great option for seniors who want to take advantage of having less space – and less stuff. But remember, don’t rush things and take your current and potential future health into consideration when putting an offer on a new home.