If retirement is on the horizon, there'a good chance you've considered downsizing. It should come as no surprise that there are a lot of desirable reasons to do so. Making the transition is a big decision though, and there are many factors to take into consideration. As retirement continues to inch closer, here are a few things to consider as you explore a downsized future.
1. Why Do You Want to Downsize?
It’s a great question to start with. The conversation on downsizing is often rooted in any number of push factors; the burden of home maintenance, excessive space, children flung far and wide, and the financial benefits. When it comes to downsizing, none of these reasons are better or worse than the other, but they can influence the rest of the downsizing process. Identify your push factor(s) and put some strategic thought into it. This leads us to our next suggestion – long term thinking.
2. Plan For The Long Term
Considering the push factor in downsizing helps to bring your next steps into clearer view. It also assists with long-term planning. If you’re nearing retirement and looking to live closer to friends and family, a big relocation across the country might make sense. But it’s important to discuss these plans with your children too. Are they settled in the same place for the foreseeable future as well, or could career obligations cause them to relocate in the coming years? These questions may impact your decision.
If you’re looking at winters full of cocktails along Florida’s beaches as a snowbird, proximity to family may matter less than the size of your home and your obligations towards it. The focus may be on the difference between downsizing to a small townhome or an even less burdensome condominium, as opposed to the location of your new home. Downsizing affords a change of lifestyle; think long-term about what that lifestyle change looks like for you.
3. Consider The Change Of Pace
One of the wonderful benefits of downsizing is the maintenance free lifestyle. Condo living offers you the opportunity to literally lock-and-leave your home without worrying about what’s left behind. Condo management teams take care of exterior home care and yard work. And even without a concierge, most condominiums require keyed entry into the lobby area. There’s also extra comfort in having neighbours just steps down the hall. This all adds up to an increased freedom to come and go for short trips or extended periods. The next question is: What are you going to do with your newfound freedom?
More time on your hands means there are some important factors to take into consideration; namely, what will be filling that time? What kind of amenities do you desire on-site or at the very least, nearby? Which Calgary neighbourhood best suits your needs? Is your new home easily accessible for friends and family to come by and visit?
Downsizing doesn’t simply mean a change in your physical surroundings; it often leads to a change of pace as well. Think about what that looks like for you.
4. Be Realistic
If downsizing is part of a grander plan to boost that nest egg of yours, make sure you’re realistic with your expectation. A smaller space doesn’t always translate into more money at your disposal. Condominiums, for instance, offer a maintenance free lifestyle for their homeowners. The trade off is condo fees, which ensure these tasks are taken care of month after month.
But even with added expenses like condo fees, urban condo living is also designed to be more convenient, with some amenities on-site and others a short walk or bike ride away. You should also be able to save on things like utilities and day-to-day home purchases, as there is less to maintain inside and out. Sitting down and costing out new expenses as well as the areas you’ll save in will give you a good idea of the month-to-month cost of living.
5. Have Fun!
Downsizing is often accompanied with some exciting life changes; more time with family, especially the grandchildren; a more active lifestyle; perhaps even warmer winters south of the border. Embarking on your journey toward a new, smaller home and simpler lifestyle can be fun. Don’t forget to consider your reasons for downsizing, your long-term desires and your long-term well-being along the way.
After all, downsizing typically marks a more stable, permanent transition. You want to be able to enjoy your new home for years to come.