As you get a little older, your lifestyle changes. Tasks you might have found easy 20, 10, or even five years ago — like climbing stairs, hopping into the tub, or crouching in the garden — might be newly difficult. That’s OK. But it’s important that your living space reflects your new lifestyle.
That’s why an increasing number of people are opting to downsize. Whether you spent your salad days in a three-story colonial or a sprawling ranch, moving to a smaller place can make things easier for you. Here are six reasons why:
1. Less to clean
Now that the kids are out of the house and have kids of their own, do you really need four bedrooms? Or, more importantly: Do you really need the hassle of vacuuming and dusting them? Sure, all that extra space is nice for family get-togethers and holidays. But the burden of maintaining a house that was meant for more people can be taxing and expensive — especially if you suffer a health setback and need hired help. A smaller apartment or home will allow you to maintain independence and do your own cleaning… but will also make the task more manageable.
2. No yard work
You might love to mow the lawn. Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly cut grass? But as you get older, pushing your John Deere around can lead to falls, twisted ankles, or just… exhaustion. What was once a once-a-week pleasure capped by a few cold beers could turn into a slog… or a trip to the doctor’s office. Downsizing your home typically also means downsizing the yard, making maintenance easier (if you’re doing it yourself) or cheaper (if you hire out). You don’t have to give up the outdoors — many communities intended for independent older folks have shared green spaces that allow you to put your feet in the grass without having to also cut it.
3. It’s often cheaper… or even lucrative
If you own your home outright, you might think that making a move isn’t financially feasible. But depending on your home’s value, downsizing can give you a substantial bump in retirement funds. And if you decide to move to an apartment, condo, or a community that’s geared toward other independent retirees, you’ll also often be saved the future expense of home maintenance. Who wants to replace a roof at age 75?
4. A home that’s designed for you
As more and more independent retirees are choosing to downsize, the housing industry has begun to cater to their needs, designing smaller homes, condos, and apartments especially for an aging clientele. That means accessible bathrooms, single-story floor plans, and spaces that make it easy — not hard — to keep doing the things you’ve always done. Instead of fighting your space, you can live in harmony with it. Better yet, it can make daily life safer, via new technology — like Philips Lifeline, which can sense if you’ve fallen in your home and need help.
5. Closer to the center of things
One of the benefits of downsizing is that it gives you the opportunity to reconsider where in your community you’d most like to live. As America’s population ages, it’s increasingly moving back to city centers. As you age, it can be more convenient to be within easy walking distance of shops, pharmacies, restaurants, cultural centers, and health care providers. One of the biggest hurdles to independence as you age is mobility — and often, the ability to drive. Living closer to the center of things means you don’t have to. Want a bite to eat? Need to pick up a prescription? Dinner and a movie? You might be able to just walk.
6. More time for family and friends… and yourself
Less cleaning, less yard work, a shorter commute… Downsizing can often simplify your life, leaving you time you wouldn’t have otherwise. But it can also be the start of a new chapter in life, one that is dedicated to spending time with family and friends… and maybe even a few new neighbors. Many communities geared toward downsizing retirees have social groups, book clubs, and cinema screenings aimed at building new bonds and friendships.
Just because you’re of a certain age, that doesn’t mean that you can’t try a new hobby or make some new friends. Downsizing can help you keep your adventurous spirit and encourage you to try something new. It’s a challenge, but if you’re up for it, the rewards can be substantial.