Downsizing in retirement allows us to re-adjust our lifestyle and environment for the next phase of our lives. It’s a great step to take, but it’s not one to be taken lightly or in a rush. Before you make a decision on how and where you are going to downsize, make sure you have taken the following steps.
Calculate Your Costs
Make sure to account for any hidden costs that could influence your home buying budget. These include remodeling costs to make the house senior-friendly (the national average is $9,000), insurance, taxes, homeowner’s association fees, and ongoing maintenance costs.
Test Out Your Space and Neighborhood Needs
Florida lives up to its reputation as retiree heaven: five of the 25 best places to retire in 2019 according to U.S News are in the Sunshine State. However, you do still have to pick a specific neighborhood. Before you settle on any given one, spend an afternoon or two there. Do you have all the amenities you need? Are there parks or green spaces to enjoy? Can you easily get around without a car?
You may also have a good idea of how much space you need, but it’s good to test this out too. One way to do this is to get a local vacation rental for a couple of nights in your target size and preferred neighborhood. When looking at the St Pete-Clearwater area, Turnkey reminds this city is known for its good weather (it once went 768 days without rain), numerous beaches, a vibrant arts scene and plenty of unique neighborhoods. Make a list of what you like and don’t like during your stay and use this to inform your search.
Consider All Your Options
Downsizing doesn’t always mean “buying a smaller house.” There are other options that can be more budget-friendly and more practical, so make sure you consider all of them.
For instance, you could move to an assisted living facility or an independent living community. Many people assume these are the same, but there is a difference. In an independent living community, you get private housing and shared spaces with events and activities. An assisted living facility is similar, but you will also receive support with everyday tasks like bathing and getting dressed. Both give you a community and a social life, but only one provides care.
You could also choose to rent. Indeed, senior renters grew by 43% between 2007 and 2017. For many, renting is more practical, more affordable, and more flexible. If, for example, you would like to continue living independently but anticipate you might need full-time care at some point, renting allows you to bridge that gap.
Find Reliable Help
If your family isn’t able to take an active role in the move, you may want to consider hiring a certified senior move manager to support you throughout the whole process. You get a move organized by a real pro, plus other benefits like avoiding family stress and tension and having plenty of time to downsize at your pace.
Even if you don’t hire a move manager, you will need a team of movers. Consumer Affairs is a great place to look when searching for reliable movers in your area, with thousands of trusted reviews.
Say A Proper Goodbye
If you are the sentimental type, you might find it really hard to part with a beloved family home. You can make this process easier by saying goodbye in creative ways. Create a scrapbook of your favorite memories of the house, host a goodbye party to commemorate the good times, or bring something small and sentimental with you, like a pressed leaf from a favorite tree. Get your family to join in: they probably want to say goodbye too.
Taking the time to fully map out your downsizing plan is the best way to ensure you make the right decisions. You or your loved ones may be in a rush to get you settled into your new life, but it’s worth slowing everything down. It helps to start early and be proactive in your decision to downsize: don’t wait until it becomes a necessity. That way, you are fully in control.