Downsizing is an attractive option for many seniors, especially when the activities of daily living start to become a little more challenging. Moving into a smaller space has many advantages — financial savings, less maintenance, and reduced clutter, to name just a few. Downsizing can be a breath of fresh air for anyone feeling bogged down by daily chores and clutter. If you’re thinking about downsizing during your senior years, follow these tips to save money and get the most out of your experience.
Budget for Home Renovations
Of course, it’s important to set a budget before searching for a new home. Remember to include projected costs in this budget so you can handle large expenses such as emergency home repairs, regular maintenance, and accessibility upgrades in the future. If you intend to age in place like the majority of Americans, consider making some home modifications to maintain your safety and comfort. Anticipate the costs of these upgrades ahead of time so you’ll be able to afford modifications when the time comes. For example, Angie’s List estimates that it costs about $20,000 to retrofit a bathroom — this includes widening the doorway, installing a walk-in shower, lowering the sink for wheelchair use, and adding grab bars.
Expect Hidden Fees
In addition to home maintenance and upgrades, you’ll also have to budget for hidden fees. Remember that it costs money to sell a home and move. You’ll face expenses for hiring a real estate agent, home stager, landscaper, professional cleaner, and moving company. You might also get hit with penalties for breaking your mortgage.
When buying your new home, account for closing costs, real estate agent commission, property taxes, insurance, utilities, and HOA or condo fees in your budget. Remember, smaller homes aren’t always cheaper. If you’re downsizing to save money, make sure your new home is actually going to help you accomplish this goal.
Search for Homes in Lively Communities
As you look for the perfect home, pay attention to the neighborhood and surrounding community. According to Silver Maples, social engagement plays a critical role in our mental and physical health, so it’s important to choose a location where you can get involved in the community. Consider buying a home in the city so you can walk or take public transport wherever you need to go. Look for places with nearby senior’s centers, entertainment, and recreational opportunities. If possible, try to talk to the neighbors in the area that you’re hoping to move to make sure you’ll get along well in the community.
Start Decluttering Early
When you finally get around to sifting through your clutter, you’ll be surprised at the sheer number of things you own. To avoid experiencing burnout from your decluttering sessions, start a couple of months before you move — and take it slow. Don’t try to tackle your entire house at once. Instead, choose a tiny section of your home — a kitchen drawer or closet shelf, for example — and complete it in one go. Decluttering can be surprisingly stressful if you try to take on too much too quickly.
Give Your Unwanted Items a New Home
Chances are, you’ll end up with piles of stuff you no longer want. Instead of hauling this all away to the dump, try to find a new home for as many things as possible. According to NBC News, you can make a significant amount of money by selling online, particularly when it comes to electronics and collections. For larger items like appliances and furniture, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace may be better — or just host a yard sale! Not only will you make some money this way, but you’ll also have an easier time getting rid of stuff knowing that your cherished belongings are going to a new home instead of ending up in the landfill.
Downsizing is an excellent way to refocus your life in retirement. When done right, living in a small house can be more affordable and enjoyable than battling clutter in a large home. While the process of downsizing can be stressful, it can enhance your life in ways you never expected.
About the Author: Michael Longsdon provides advice to seniors on downsizing and aging in place. He writes about concerns like tackling home accessibility modifications, how to find a great contractor, the benefits of aging in place, and more.