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Are you looking to Downsize and Close Out the Family Home?

The children are gone, and your retirement is ahead. You’ve managed to get your retirement accounts in order, and you’ve decided on whether you’re going to work part-time a bit for a little extra income. But what about that big family home? Do you really need such a big space, now that the children have all moved out? If you’ve decided selling is the best option, here’s a few things to keep in mind as you begin the downsizing process.

1. Decide What to Bring with You

Because you’ll likely be moving somewhere with much less space than the family home, you’ll want to carefully consider what to take with you.  For years you’ve been used to certain amounts of space and storage. Now you’ll have much less space. Probably less than half the square footage you’ve been living in. That means some tough decisions will have to be made.

If you’re having a hard time deciding on what to keep and what to donate, take it slow and consider how useful or sentimental items are. You’ll probably need to part with some possessions that you only use infrequently. Many seasonal decorations and home repair items will need to be sold or given away. Sharon Greenthal from Empty House Full Mind also suggests “a small storage unit for things you simply can’t part with.”

2. Budget the Benefits

Selling the family home will bring financial and budget changes.  Whether it’s eliminating a monthly mortgage, lowering home repair and upkeep costs, reducing utility bills, or changing insurance costs and requirements, selling the family home and moving somewhere new will warrant a review of your housing budget.

Before you downsize you’ll want to make sure that your new arrangements fit within your planned budget. Some retirement living scenerios are more expensive than others. Much depends on how much help you’ll receive. Independent living is much less expensive than assisted living in most cases.

3. Consider Your New Lifestyle

When you move out of the family home, your new space will definitely be different.  You’ll have less to clean, and you may have little or no yard maintenance.  Both of those are benefits, but you’ll also have less space. If you’re retired you’ll spend much more time at home than when you were working. You might also take up a hobby now that you have the time. All that affects what you’ll want and need in a new residence.

If you’re moving from a single family home to an adult community or an apartment, you’ll probably be dealing with neighbors who are closer than you’re accustomed to. Consider any privacy issues before you make a move.

Comfortable and safe areas for playing may be an important factor as you start spending more time with grandchildren. Depending on the age and number of grandchildren, it could be wise to think about how much room you’ll need both inside your home, as well as outside in your yard. Sharon Greenthal also suggests “if you don’t have grandchildren now, or you might in the future, you might wish you had more room when they come along.”

Closing out the family home can be a big decision. By considering the important issues before you move you’ll make a decision that will make your new home a joy!


Paige Estigarribia contributes to The Dollar The site has helped readers “live better…for less” since 1996. They have an active section for baby boomers and a free email newsletter After 50 Finances.