Legal Law

Baby Boomers: Should I Downsize?

My husband, Scott, and I downsized from a 3,000-square-foot home to a 400-square-foot cottage almost two years ago.

We have never been happier.

Have any of you boomers downsized or planning to do so in the near future?

You’re not alone.

Recently, there has been a cultural shift with more people interested in living minimally and choosing to live with less. And it’s not just us boomers who can have empty nests.

Part of the trend may be due to author Marie Kondo’s popular book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Tidying Up and Organizing,” which encourages minimalism by urging readers to get rid of the things that don’t. bring joy. .

Then there was the whole “tiny house” movement. More and more people began to choose experiences, adventures and to see the world in a big house with a huge mortgage.

Although minimalism is not exactly the same concept as the hippie movement of the 60s, boomers can relate. Remember when many young people thought that society had been corrupted by capitalism and the materialistic culture it created? Although it was a more radical time, many realized that, in pursuing “success,” people lost sight of the most meaningful experiences life had to offer.

Of course, this is a personal and important decision that is not for everyone. But why should you consider moving to a smaller home?

Why downsize?

The pandemic caused many boomers to reconsider their priorities.

After being separated from their family during the pandemic, some wanted to get closer to their children and grandchildren. If your children live where the cost of living is highest, a smaller home may make moving possible. If your children have large properties, small houses may be an option.

Some boomers lost their jobs or saw their retirement dreams fade as the pandemic progressed and were forced to look for other options. That may have included selling your large family home and downsizing to cut down on expenses.

In fact, money is a main motivating factor when deciding on a reduction, according to a survey in the article “The positive side of the reduction.” When respondents were asked why they would want to buy a smaller home, 59% of baby boomers said that saving money was the main reason for doing so.

Others, like me, chose smaller excavations as a way of life. It’s true that Scott and I wanted to save more money for retirement, but we also wanted to live a simpler life so that we could have more time for meaningful activities and pursue our goals and dreams.

The survey showed that wanting less responsibility and more freedom definitely plays a big role in decision-making. A third of boomers (38%), perhaps empty nests, said their previous home was simply too big. Another 36% said their larger home was too much work to clean and maintain. The survey revealed that 22% wanted to reduce stress and 16% liked the idea of ​​reducing clutter.

That was certainly the case with my husband and me. After my son was granted full custody of his children, we volunteered to move into our two-bedroom cottage and rent the main house for him and the children. We had been considering a downsizing for a while.

Turning 60, we wanted to make the decade count while we were still healthy enough to do so. At the time, he was tired of the responsibility of cleaning a large house. Fascinated by leading a minimalist lifestyle, we watched endless episodes of “Tiny House” shows on HGTV. It soon became clear that we wanted to spend more time on meaningful activities and new adventures. In other words, a large house no longer served our needs.

Although, I have to admit, there was a bit of a scare in downsizing from a 3,000-square-foot home to a 400-square-foot cottage. Would we really enjoy it? The answer is a resounding yes! We have no regrets at all and savor our newfound freedom.

The rent for my son’s house covers most of the mortgage and we split the cost of utilities. Also, as we have less space to store possessions, we consume less. These changes have allowed us to save money and make some of our dreams come true now and move closer to other goals.

Since we downsized, we have been able to achieve my life’s dream of traveling to Africa. We just bought a travel trailer and are having fun camping now and are one step closer to realizing Scott’s dream of traveling the states together after his retirement.

Without the responsibility of tending a large house and garden, we feel that our time is best spent on spiritual activities and volunteer work. Not to mention, I now have more time to work on my latest writing project – a book on how to write in retirement that is currently in the process of being edited.

Perhaps author Sheri Koones put things in perspective. She encouraged using the term “correct size” instead of the word “downsizing,” which can feel like you’re being private. Right sizing focuses on what is “right” for you now, what is really important to you, and finding a way to incorporate those priorities into your life. The right size allows you to create the lifestyle you want with more money to enjoy.

For example, you may want to move to a warmer climate. A smaller home can allow more time and money for outdoor activities like golf, tennis, or biking. Perhaps you want to live in a lively, lively city within walking distance of restaurants, bars, theaters, and shops, and choose to live in a smaller condo or apartment.

The right size can open doors.

The downside of downsizing

Of course, in saying all this, downsizing has some downsides.

In the survey, respondents cited having less space and privacy as the hardest setting for downsizing. Interestingly, nearly twice as many Millennials and Gen Xers complained about privacy issues than baby boomers.

Half of the respondents admitted that disposing of their possessions was a great challenge.

Moving, no matter the circumstances, is stressful and can be expensive.

If you like gardening, you will probably have less space to do it. And if you love entertaining guests, a smaller home can be a hindrance.

My tips for downsizing

As someone who has been there and done that, here are some tips for those of you who want to shrink like me:

* First of all, this is a great decision. Do not rush. Consider all of your options when it comes to downsizing with your lifestyle goals in mind. Want a smaller, single-level home that allows space for friends, family, and those precious grandchildren to visit? Are you social and want to live in a 55+ community that offers a variety of recreational activities? Or are you adventurous and want the freedom of a home on wheels like an RV, trailer, or tiny home, or maybe even a houseboat? Is it more important that you live in the city or do you need a patio?

* Not sure what you want? You may want to rent an apartment or a small house before making a buying decision.

* If you are reducing the size, it is important to consider how small you want to make it. Even an extra 50 square feet makes a big difference in a small home. After purchasing our camping trailer, I realized that these 200-square-foot “tiny houses” or living full-time in an RV is not for me. I prefer a base under my feet. We are fortunate to have a separate room for our bedroom, allowing us some personal space. Also, unusual for small homes, our fairly large bathroom actually has a double sink. Trust me, that makes a huge difference! Think carefully about what is essential for you.

* When it’s time to put down your treasures, work one room at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Remember, photo albums that take up a lot of space can be digitized. If you have collections, try to choose a few items that are most important to you and sell the rest, or maybe a family member wants some of them. In my case, my son agreed to keep my precious collection of old books in the main house. If you have an emotional attachment to certain items, you may want to consider storage options.

* You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s true. Light colors and keeping clutter to a minimum make smaller spaces appear larger.

* Make your outdoor space count. To help solve the problem of lack of space to entertain guests, we arranged the patio where we have space for two large tables. We use that space often for ourselves too, for alfresco dining and additional living space.

* I soon discovered that storage is everything when you live in a small house. Make sure to use plenty of hidden storage space and multipurpose furniture.

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