The Pros and Cons to Downsizing During Retirement
Moving can be a time consuming, expensive hassle. Kiplinger reports that a cross-country move for a three bedroom home can cost $8,0001 For retired people, downsizing to a smaller home may be a necessary move, but any move should be carefully considered to make sure the pros outweigh the cons. We have come up with an extensive list of considerations all retirees should take into account before stocking up on moving boxes and hiring a professional mover2.
- Accessing home equity- If a home is worth a large amount, selling the home to move to a less expensive location may be a vital part of a retiree’s financial retirement plan.
- Less expensive utility costs- Downsizing to a smaller home could mean lower utility costs as there is less space to heat and cool.
- More manageable upkeep- Cleaning and general upkeep of a two bedroom condo may be much easier to manage than a four bedroom ranch style home.
- Accessible neighborhood- Moving means retirees can choose a different neighborhood with more accessible amenities. Being close to doctors, shopping, church or volunteer opportunities can make many retiree’s lives much easier.
- Independent living assistance- Downsizing to an independent living community can provide safety, convenience and peace of mind for retirees.
- Leaving friends and the neighborhood- If a neighborhood book club, neighborhood association, or close-knit group of neighbors is a large part of a retiree’s social life, they might consider staying in the neighborhood. Retirees could also move to a smaller home in the same neighborhood.
- Emotional cost- Leaving a home filled with family memories can be difficult, especially if children are grown and the odds of replicating those memories are slim. Older homeowners may get some resistance from their children or grandchildren about the move as other family members may also have an emotional attachment to the home or neighborhood.
- Financial cost- Anyone planning to move should shop around before hiring a moving company. Professional movers’ rates and services vary greatly. If possible, homeowners should seek out recommendations from friends or family members for reputable movers.
- Cost of updating a new home- When moving, retirees should consider the cost of making their new home “their own”. This is especially true if they are living on a fixed income. The cost of painting rooms, updating fixtures and other simple updates can add up quickly.
Some retirees choose to downsize for the financial benefit. Others want to take advantage of a smaller home to cut utility costs and general home upkeep. Some retirees choose to move to a more accessible home as stairs, small bathrooms or kitchens all may prove difficult if mobility or disabilities are a concern.
For retirees that have significant equity in their home and who are not ready to downsize, there may be another option that allows them to continue living comfortably in their current home. A reverse mortgage loan may be available to seniors who are at least 62 years old. A reverse mortgage loan pays the homeowner from the equity they have built up in their home and the funds may be used however the homeowner likes. Often, the funds are used to make the home more accessible, to make home repairs or updates, and even to pay for general upkeep of the home if the borrower chooses.
For many retirees, their home is their largest investment. For more information about how a reverse mortgage loan works and how retirees can tap into that investment, call 800-976-6211.