3 signs it may be time to downsize

October 13, 2015

If you are nearing retirement, you may be pondering whether you still want to deal with the responsibility and expense of a full-sized home. Here are 3 questions that can help you decide whether it’s time to downsize.

3 signs it may be time to downsize

1. Can I afford my current lifestyle?

Many seniors must rely on fixed incomes after retirement, so it makes sense to get the most out of your hard-earned savings.

  • If you are having trouble affording your current housing or have too much house for your family, it may make sense to downsize.
  • Ask yourself if the amount of space you have really matches your lifestyle. If you have many empty rooms, too much stuff or expect more guests than you actually host, you could be paying too much to maintain a home that no longer matches your lifestyle.

2. Can I maintain the home I'm in?

For many seniors, downsizing isn't a matter of money – it's a matter of maintenance.

  • As you get older, your body may balk at the thought of raking leaves, mowing a lawn or spending hours in the garden. And home repairs that once seemed simple may now seem daunting or impossible.
  • If you're having trouble maintaining your home, its value could diminish, further eroding your savings. In addition, ongoing maintenance tasks could become even more difficult (or hazardous) as you age.

3. Am I up for the challenge?

Many retirees don't think of downsizing at all, but once a beloved spouse dies, they are faced with the nightmare of going through possessions, packing items and moving while they mourn. Sometimes, downsizing while both spouses are in good health can make good sense.

  • By scaling back before you must, you can minimize the impact of a spouse's death, ill health or other circumstances that might be harder to deal with at an older age.
  • You can also make the future easier for your children or other beneficiaries who will have to grapple with your home and possessions once you're gone.

As the questions above indicate, the decision to downsize isn't one that should be taken lightly – or one that considers only one aspect of your life. To best make decisions about downsizing, think about the lifestyle you wish to live. With a bit of realism, lots of support and an eye on the most comfortable future for you and your family, it will be easier to decide what works for you.

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