Downsizing After Retirement

Retirement is an exciting transition. You’ll have more free time to pursue what you love and enjoy the benefits of your hard work.

As many individuals and couples make the shift to a retirement lifestyle, they also find that they want to make some changes, one of which is often downsizing. Downsizing is when you reduce your possessions, the size of your home or your responsibilities. By downsizing, many retirees make more space in their life to focus on the people, possessions and activities they value most.

Why Downsizing is Beneficial

There are many ways to downsize, but two stand out for retirees: your home and the belongings you own.

Downsizing Your Home

Downsizing your home for retirement lets you live simpler, with fewer rooms to clean, less lawn to maintain and less interior and exterior upkeep on your residence.

While some choose to move to a smaller house, many retirees prefer to downsize their home for a retirement community. Your new home might be one of the many 55+ apartments in Georgia with a range of services and amenities, for instance. A retirement community alleviates the burden and maintenance of homeownership so retirees can spend more time pursuing hobbies they enjoy, traveling or spending time with family and friends.

Moving to a retirement community can be a big transition, but most adults find that they have significantly less stress after they’ve made the change. There are fewer utility bills to worry about, on-site dining and activities to keep you engaged. Once settled, you’ll be able to introduce new furniture pieces, change your design style and welcome the family to create new memories.

Downsizing Your Belongings

Downsizing your belongings lets you live simpler and gives you more freedom. Offloading furniture you dislike or clothes you never wear can be liberating. It gives you the opportunity to focus on your fresh start, not the years of clutter stuffed into hall closets or an overflowing, dusty attic.

Downsizing your belongings also makes it easier to transition to a senior living community if you want to make a larger change.

Five Steps to Downsizing Your Home and Belongings After Retirement

If you’re interested in downsizing from your current home and simplifying your material possessions after retirement, there are a few steps you should take.

1. Identify Your Goals for Retirement

One of your first steps is to identify your goals. Common goals for people at retirement are to travel, to spend more time with grandchildren and to enjoy leisure pursuits. You may want to accomplish all of these goals or focus your efforts elsewhere. Regardless of your goals, you need to choose the housing and the budget that will make them work.

Another factor is to figure out where you want to live. Searching for the best cities for retirement turns up many results, whether in your state or across the country. You might find these lists useful as a starting point, although you may have better results by determining where you enjoy living. For example, many adults choose to retire in Georgia due to the fantastic weather and affordable cost of living in many areas. Others choose to move closer to family or friends.

2. Decide Which Type of Senior Housing Fits Your Needs

There are many types of senior housing available to you, but the one that’s right for your lifestyle depends on your preferences. Will you rent or own? If renting or paying a monthly fee, consider options like 55+ apartments, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) or a full-service retirement community that best fits your life stage.

You’ll find senior apartments with varying amenities and services, from dining areas, on-site programs and community rooms to beauty salons and in-house physician services.

Retirement communities help you develop close ties with neighbors who share your interests. These communities are ideal for introducing you to new friends and new leisure pursuits.

Alternatively, you could downsize into a smaller detached home. If you want to travel extensively or split your time with family in other states, however, you may want to consider a retirement community rather than a home you’ll need to maintain even when you’re rarely there.

3. Determine Costs and Overall Nest Egg

Your financial plan will change upon retirement, so you need to figure out how much cash you’ll have across savings accounts, investments, home equity and other income sources.

The types of costs and proceeds you’ll want to know include the following:

  • The proceeds from selling your home
  • The fees and monthly mortgage for a new home
  • The monthly cost and fees for services at retirement communities
  • Any regular monthly costs, such as health insurance and utilities
  • Any fixed income, including pension and Social Security benefits

When is the best time for you to move to a smaller residence? Make sure you calculate your potential profits and equity from selling your home and subtract closing costs, fees and other expenses you might incur. Working with numbers before you can make the decision easier.

4. Consider the Current Real Estate Market

Regardless of whether you’re looking to buy a new, smaller home or move to a retirement community, chances are you need to review the real estate market. You’ll probably be selling the home you own now and using the proceeds to purchase or rent your next home.

When starting to look into real estate, remember that the market today is vastly different than they were 30 to 40 years ago. There are many online real estate tools that may be different from what you’ve used in the past, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic has caused major changes in interest rates that are affecting buyers and sellers.

Make sure to research the market and make an informed decision about selling your home and moving to a new place. If nothing else, the market will affect your nest egg and how quickly you can make a move.

5. Understand That You Can’t Take Everything with You

As you begin the process of downsizing your home, you’ll realize that some of your belongings must go as well. Going through your belongings can be emotional, but you’ll feel a deep sense of relief once you can see what is essential and what is not.

To make the most of downsizing, consider these tips:

  • Tackle areas one at a time, such as dividing and conquering by room or type of object (kitchen vs. living room or clothes vs. furniture)
  • Downsize over a few months if the move isn’t urgent
  • Divide items into categories: keep, toss, donate and sell
  • Invite family and friends to help you sort and ask them to set aside items they’d like to take
  • Sell unwanted items at a garage sale
  • Donate items to local thrift shops

You might come across sentimental items that have no use but you can’t bear to part with them. That’s okay. You should never be forced to throw out something if it holds a special place in your heart. If you can’t decide, set the item aside and come back to it a few days or weeks later.

For children’s artwork and other documents, you could ask someone to upload images to a digital cloud. At this point, you might feel comfortable tossing some of the work knowing you can view it on a computer at any time.

Make the Move to Senior Living

Once you’ve identified your goals and gone through the process of downsizing your belongings, you can make the transition to senior living. This type of downsizing after retirement puts you on the path to a fresh start and a lifestyle that prioritizes what’s really important to you.

When you’re ready to choose your new home, consider The Lodge for independent living services, assisted living and other support designed to help you thrive. Our full-service community has the space, amenities and quality services you’ll be searching for after retirement. Contact our friendly team to learn more.