6 Considerations When Rightsizing Your Home
Rightsizing means making your home fit your lifestyle, rather than the other way around. During major life milestones, such as when expecting a child, or when all your children have left the home, it’s common to re-assess whether your house continues to meet your needs.
Many seniors begin to consider whether the homes they have lived in for many years continue to fit their lifestyles. Carrying laundry downstairs to the washing machine can be less appealing in your sixties than it was in your thirties. Some people want to move to be closer to children and grandchildren.
Whatever your reasons for making plans for your future, and rightsizing your home, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Take Your Time to Find the Right Home
Your home is your castle, and you want to take the time to make sure you settle into the right one. Do not rush into a decision about buying a home – even if you have sold your current house, you can always rent until you find the right house to buy. Having the right home will be important for years to come, and it is important to take the time to find it.
First, decide what kind of a home you need, and how much space you require. It’s often assumed that as people grow older, they need less space. This may be true for you, or it may not. Perhaps you often host family or friends and need extra guestrooms and a large dining room. Maybe you have taken up a hobby that requires more space, such as an art studio to paint in, a workshop to do carpentry, or a proper wine cellar to store your wine.
Or perhaps you could stand to lose a room or two. Maybe you plan to spend most of your time traveling rather than hosting, or perhaps the chores that accompany a lawn make having a huge yard less attractive than it once was, making a condominium more attractive.
Consider what’s important to you in a home. Be very clear on what your needs are and make the distinction between “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” Consider your budget and what is realistic for you financially, then take your time to find the right home for you.
Don’t Buy Anything Out of Your Budget
This seems obvious, but it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding a new home and end up saddled with a mortgage just a bit bigger than it should be. Look into the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) reverse mortgage program. This innovative product helps seniors use the equity from the sale of their previous home, or savings, to fund the purchase of their dream home without a mortgage payment!
If you’re looking to right-size into a home more suitable for you then the HECM for Purchase product can help you accomplish this while eliminating the financial burden of a monthly mortgage payment.
When home buying, the stress of cutting other expenses in your life is not worth it. Stay within your budget, but make sure you’ve utilized the resources that can help make your budget a bit bigger, too.
Don’t Treat Your Home as a Storage Locker
A lifetime of possessions adds up. Many seniors don’t know what to do with all their “stuff,” and some even end up buying a larger house than they really wanted, just to have a place to store their possessions.
This is the wrong approach. Your house should be a home, not a storage locker. It can be very hard work going through possessions and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, but it is a better option than spending years with items rarely used, taking up room in boxes.
Give Items Away to Loved Ones
There may be items you have a strong emotional attachment to but don’t need in your new home. Turn that into an opportunity to give these items to others and to explain their emotional value to you. Jewelry, furniture, art, and more can turn into treasured family heirlooms, and you will enjoy seeing others get pleasure out of the possessions that you love. Plus, you will be doing your loved ones a favor by leaving less for them to sort through after you have passed away.
Buy a House for You, Not for Anyone Else
Some grandparents take others’ desires into account more than their own. It can be tempting to find a house with a large room to put a ping pong table in to encourage grandchildren to visit with their friends. But this can set you up for disappointment if the grandchildren don’t visit as much as you had hoped, and means more space (and time spent cleaning and maintaining it) than is necessary.
In this example, ask yourself if there are ways you can see your grandchildren without having a pool table. Perhaps a better idea is to host them for movie nights, or take them out for activities that they enjoy. Find other ways you can connect with your grandchildren.
Celebrate Your Rightsizing
It’s an exciting accomplishment to make changes to your home that better suit your lifestyle. Celebrate it! Host a moving party with friends and family. Plan what kind of a housewarming party you would like to have in your new home. Take the opportunity to completely change the décor in your bedroom or living room, just for a change. Make the process one of celebration and excitement.
Making changes to your home and living space doesn’t have to be overwhelming and stressful. It can be an exciting time of renewal. Take the time to think through how you can rightsize in a way that is meaningful to you. You’ll be setting yourself up to make the golden years even brighter.