Top downsizing tips for seniors
Reader question: We are considering downsizing our home. We are in our mid60s and in good health, but something smaller and in a more moderate climate keeps making more sense. We have different ideas about the best methods to sort this all out. Do you have any advice that may simplify the process? — John and Donna F.
Monty’s answer: Downsizing can involve prickly decisions when planning a lifestyle change. Family, friends, and neighbors will often weigh in with the best solution for you. While advice can be conflicting, each point often has a solid foundation. Not everyone needs to or wants to downsize, and there are some pitfalls to avoid for those who decide to make a move. Here are some basic tips that may help the decisionmaking process succeed.
First, get your priorities down on a sheet of paper. Rank them and consider advice against your priorities. What are the important factors in your lives? Keep the option of staying put in the mix.
Consider spending time in your finalist destinations. If you have been there before, you may see it differently as your permanent home.
Discover what locals have learned about living there. Location-based information is plentiful on the Internet; for example, cost-of-living comparison sites have done helpful research for you.
Nailing down a location simplifies the rest of the process. If you do not agree on the location, consider renting a place in finalist communities during their best (or worst) season of the year.
Develop a plan. If we decide to make a move, what is the process? Do our financial resources limit our choices in how we proceed? What is the value of our current home? What will our future home cost? Can we save money renting in the new location? Should we sell our home and store (or sell) our furniture and rent in the new location for a year to get acquainted? Should we keep our home as a fallback in case we come to believe we made an error? Should we make a clean break?
Test different options. There are a variety of choices — including over 55 communities, apartment-style flats, highrises, gated communities, single-family subdivisions and even options you may not have realized exist. If you decide to test living in a new city, consider renting a different lifestyle in each city.
We often put off dealing with our future housing needs. For many of us, our home is comfortable, and moving takes work. The happiest and most satisfied people in retirement are those who are well informed.
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