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When Is It Time to Downsize Your Home?

Do you still need this much space?

Do you still need this much space?

Baby Boomer Population

There are approximately 76 million people born between 1946 and 1964, so another baby boomer turns 50 every seven seconds. As such a large group of people near retirement age, many are making plans as to how to stretch their income and live comfortably. This has caused many people to consider downsizing their homes and perhaps also moving to a different location.

For most people, their home is their most valuable financial asset. The statistics for the homeowners age 50 and up show that 80 percent are homeowners, and the bulk of them have home equity.

Many people have their homes paid off. However, only 17 percent of Americans over the age of 55 believe they will have an adequate amount of income to live on in their retirement years. Some people work extra years or seek part-time employment for the extra income.

G.I. Generation vs. Baby Boomers

The G.I. generation avoided debt and saved money, so combining money (usually a tradition pension) with social security provided adequate income for their retirement years.

Baby boomers, on the other hand, have often faced vanishing 401(k) money and other funds they have invested unwisely. In addition, there is the possibility that Congress will reduce Social Security benefits. As a baby boomer, I find that very annoying, as I have worked since 15 years of age contributing to that fund.

Many baby boomers are willing to shoulder too much debt, which keeps them working longer or having less retirement income. However, many other boomers plan to move to a smaller home and seek a less complicated, less expensive lifestyle.

Financial Reasons to Downsize

People typically decide to sell their homes for financial reasons or practical reasons. With proper planning many people upgrade their home through the years, so they can receive an optimal price when they decide to sell.

More than 80 percent of people between the ages of 50 to 64 have an adequate amount of home equity. The goal is certainly to reduce your mortgage payment, but it is ideal to eliminate a mortgage altogether. Purchasing a smaller house with a smaller mortgage is financially beneficial, which increases your financial security.

Some people find this difficult for sentimental reasons if they have lived in the same home for many years, especially if they move a long distance away. While downsizing makes financial sense, it can be difficult for some to move, make new friends and learn their way around a new community.

A traveling modular home may not be the answer for everyone.

A traveling modular home may not be the answer for everyone.

Empty Nest Syndrome

When children grow older and move out of the home, many couples find that they simply have more square footage than they really need. Often they have bedrooms that are not being used anymore, or they may have a large yard that requires a great deal of work.

Home maintenance is much easier in a smaller home. Moving to a smaller home or condo easily reduces these problems. Additionally, in the senior years many people lose their mates. A senior citizen who lives alone often moves to a more functional setting.

Moving in Retirement

Some people enjoy moving into a retirement community with people of their own age. Many of the retirement communities are near beaches and golf courses. There are many benefits to living in these communities, such as new friends and senior community activities. There is no yard-work and many seniors enjoy this carefree life. Health problems are another reason that people are drawn to retirement communities. For example, the stairs in a two-story home may become a big challenge. It is important to choose a community that is designed for people as they age. Some independent living facilities also offer cleaning and dining services.

As criminals often prey on the elderly, retirement communities also often have locked gates and a guard at the entrance. This provides security at night or when you are on vacation.

Many baby boomers have been attracted to college towns, particularly in the South. Some people like to start a second career, which takes further education. This choice also offers entertainment through clubs and other activities, such as golf.

Other people want to live in a warmer climate when they retire. They are tired of shoveling snow, and many choose a sunnier climate where they can play golf or just take walks on pleasant days. The cost of living is also lower in many of the southern states. As an example, certainly a lower heating bill is a plus. Florida and Arizona are common choices.

The Benefits of Downsizing in Retirement


The reality is that if you are getting close to 50 and have not made a retirement plan, then it is time to make plans as well as, perhaps, lifestyle changes. It is difficult to work extra jobs as you age, so the earlier you plan the better your chances are to have adequate income for those retirement years. You may think twice about buying that new TV or boat. Making wise financial choices now will help you tremendously in the future.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 26, 2018:

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. i would not want an apartment either. A small house near a family member is good, but I understand the difficulty in making that change.

moonlake from America on June 26, 2018:

When my husband passed away I had to down size. I could no longer take care of 6 acres. I bought a small house near my daughter. I just could not go into an apartment.

I miss my country home. When I walk outside in the evening and hear the cars on the bypass I hate it. I also hate living in a bigger city but this was what I had to do.

Great hub.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 26, 2018:

We are downsizig slowing, and also making some changes to our house for sale appeal. We can't take care of this house anymore and have hired some help for the yard, etc. Our daughter-in-law helps us out also.

I would rather be out away from the city if possible, just in a smaller home with less yard, but right now by 94 year old mother still lives with us. We will wait a while longer before moving. I appreciate your comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 25, 2018:

We are making some small changes to our home always keeping in mind what will appeal to future buyers. We no longer need this size of home but my husband is not yet ready to think about moving elsewhere.

Our neighbors across the street from us no longer have their children living with them as they are all grown adults with their own families now. They looked around and thought that they would downsize but found out that the taxes are higher in the city than where we live so decided to stay. We live just outside of the city limits.

I would definitely look forward to less house and yard work! Someday we will probably make that move.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 06, 2014:

razzytamar, I think you are right. I also think people generally don't like change. Thanks so much for your comments.

Anna from chichester on October 05, 2014:

This was a wonderful read - I think that often people become so attached to their homes because it was the place they raised their children and developed a daily routine which they are now comfortable with that they don't think of how much easier life would be if they simply down-sized to a slightly smaller and more manageable property. Great hub! I look forward to reading more!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 24, 2014:

JamaGenee, I can understand why you made those decisions. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on August 23, 2014:

Lack of a water source (AND indoor plumbing!) is what kept I and a good friend from jointly purchasing an otherwise charming fixer-upper in a tiny burg in southwest Iowa several years ago. The price was right considering the amount of elbow grease that would be necessary to restore the house and yard to their original glory. Oddly, it's only occupants had been the town's GP (doctor) and his family who, I'm guessing because of the cost involved, never hooked up to the rural water system or installed an indoor toilet. Both deal breakers for me and my friend! ;D

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 23, 2014:

blueheron, The prices sure sound good and many people do have wells with septic tanks. I guess it is a solution for some people and I appreciate your bringing this up. Thanks for your comments.

Sharon Vile from Odessa, MO on August 22, 2014:

In recent years, I've seen foreclosed rural properties offered on eBay. One lakefront house in my community sat vacant for about five years. The bank's asking price had dropped to $20,000. The offered it on eBay and an out-of-state couple from the East bought it for $35,000.

Caveats for city folks looking for rural property: Sometimes there is no city water or rural public water service available--meaning you will have to arrange for water hauling to your cistern, and deal with a pump. (This situation is kind of unusual these days.) Rural areas, especially if they are not in towns, generally don't have public sewer systems, but rely on private septic systems. Or, you may have to pay to run a line to water service.

But the price--and the property tax rate--can definitely be right!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2014:

Blue heron, That is an excellent point for retired people. There are some beautiful areas to live and considering a more to a new location is certainly possible for many people. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2014:

Betty, It is an individual decision, but certainly true for many. I think the reason isn't necessarily always money, but they downsize to simplify their lives with homes that are easier to maintain. Thanks for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2014:

roshall, I hadn't thought about young people purchasing homes as a point to this hub, so thanks for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2014:

Pocono foothills, I do think some people have restrictions due to medical problems, which would impact their ability to earn more money. Others certainly have the choice. Thanks for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2014:

Peg, You make some excellent points. Thanks so much for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2014:

Deal, I think it is important to take all the facts into consideration. It sounds like you know what you want already, so that is good. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2014:

CrisSp, I think down sizing has advantages, like less house cleaning and yard work.You and your husband are thinking ahead of many, and I think that you made a good decision. I started work at also and feel the same way. Thanks for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2014:

I know others that have done that also. We built an addition on our house for my mother when she could no longer care for herself, so she has her own living room and bedroom. That has worked out very well. Thanks so much for sharing your experiene Mary. I appreciate your comments.

Sharon Vile from Odessa, MO on August 21, 2014:

Many people on the east and west coasts, or who now live in urban centers, would be stunned at the low cost of housing in the rural Midwest. Some such rural communities are quite near cities with ample shopping and restaurants, so there is no need to sacrifice these amenities. Usually there is not much in the way of employment in rural communities, but this may not be a concern, if you're retired.

Some urban apartment dwellers may even find that such a move means upsizing. I suspect many New Yorkers would get lost in a trailer--and subsequently lost in their ten-acre yard.

I'm al in favor in downsizing--for everyone!

bettyshares from Lighthearted Musings on August 20, 2014:

Its true, that as one becomes aware of the need to live in a smaller space it can be necessary to look for a new home that is not so big.

roshall from Ohio on August 20, 2014:

I feel that most are downsizing. I know I will be when the time comes. Plus it gives younger families a chance to purchase without having to build new.

John Fisher from Easton, Pennsylvania on August 20, 2014:

Baby boomers don't need to downsize, they just need to earn more money. Anybody can do that.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on August 20, 2014:

This is a great question whether we're baby boomers or not. It is disturbing to hear people say they can't afford to send their children to college due to the cost, yet who own (or lease) multiple automobiles, the latest cell phones, several flat screen TVs and a house large enough to serve as a community center. We could all benefit from a smaller footprint with less wasted space. I'm all for simplifying.

Nick Deal from Earth on August 20, 2014:

I've thought about this a lot, even though I've got a ways to go before it's decision time. I really want to retire near a college town and continue to live young and be around that youthful energy.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on August 20, 2014:

My hubby and I decided to downsize when my youngest moved to the university residence last year. We now have plenty of "togetherness" moment in the new (smaller) place. No more wasting the whole day cleaning up the house and the backyard and the money we're saving off maintenance expense, now goes to travel and road trips instead.

So yes, baby boomers should downsize.

P.S. We're not actually retired yet. Hubby's past 50 and I have few more years to hit that big "50". I wish to retire early though...maybe "55". I've been working since 16 and mind you, I'm kind of tired now of paying my taxes. :)

Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 20, 2014:

I downsized a couple of years ago from a 3/2 house I had lived in for 35 years into a 1/1 apartment attached to one of my daugher's houses. It was built as a mother-in-law apartment for her hubby's mother. It was a life changing event for me, but I did it. I'm quite content now in my little apartment.

I just looked at the change as a new challenge in my life!

Voted this Hub UP, etc. and shared.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 03, 2014:

Maria, I feel the same way. I have some young family members that are buying houses that are way to expensive, What ever happened to starter houses? I am finding I want and expect less also. The times we live in have changed many of us. Thanks for your comments. Love, Pam

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on April 01, 2014:

Dear Pam,

Wise, meaningful and well - detailed thoughts on this subject. The distinction between wants and needs is not only sensible, but necessary in today's world. Ironic that the more I think on the subject, the smaller my 'wants' list becomes. The 'stuff syndrome' feels heavy and complicated. I feel sadness when I see (especially younger) folks so obsessed with acquisition.

Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 18, 2014:

Audrey, I think it is especially good for those who do not have enough money for retirement. Thank you so much for your kind comments.

Audrey Howitt from California on March 17, 2014:

Downsizing is probably a good idea for many--for financial and practical reasons--this was an excellent article!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 14, 2014:

Bill, It sounds like you are in a position to make any decision that works for you and your wife. I appreciate your comments.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 14, 2014:

Pam, this certainly hits home here. The kids are gone and it's just my wife and I and our dog. We have enough equity in our home that perhaps we could downsize and have with a very small mortgage or even no mortgage. Definitely something we need to start talking about.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 13, 2014:

Genna, I would think you could get exactly what is important to you when you retire. We are staying put for now since we built onto our home to take care of my 90 years old mother. We will probably downsize when the time is right. I love being near the ocean also. Thanks for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 13, 2014:

Martie, Your country has been through such tough times. I don't think my hub is very applicable to South Africa. I wish the best for you and your family. I sure hope things improve and balance out between the races. I hope you are feeling better and I appreciate you taking the time to explain these circumstances.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on March 12, 2014:

Downsizing is a must in today’s world. I read Jodah’s comment about the “grey nomads” in Australia … this sounds like great fun. Excellent hub, Pam. When we retire, I just have two requests...I need a garden and reasonable access to the ocean.. :-)

Martie Coetser from South Africa on March 12, 2014:

In South Africa poverty or living from hand to mouth is the lot of the majority white Baby Boomers, since they were retrenched at the end of the Appartheids-era in order to meet the demands of legal affirmative actions. Whatever compensation they have received were not sufficient to maintain their standard of living. Starting their own businesses ended in bankruptcy, due to another affirmative action called Black Empowerment, meaning contracts for jobs are only available to black businessmen or companies with the majority black partners or directors.

So, white Baby Boomers were compelled to 'downsize' - sell their houses, cancel their medical insurance and retirement plans, etc. Today they reap the bitter fruit that were sown by their racist parents and grandparents.

The present and future of their children and grandchildren are bleak.

However, at the same time the previous disadvantaged had the opportunity to escape from the miserable circumstances they were in during the Appartheids era. And after all, this is fair. Sadly the majority black Baby Boomers are still living in poverty due to - oh, don't let me explain the phenomenon called "power corrupt'. (Read: greed turns those in power into fools.)

Nevertheless, justice is supposed to reign and reverse discrimination may hopefully come to an end in order for the strong to survive and flourish regardless of the colour of their skin.

What I am trying to say, in the time of my parents downsizing (among the whites) was a free and obviously best choice.

Oh, let me stop, Pamela! This excellent hub of yours made me realize how fortunate are those who are not forced by any unfortunate circumstances to 'downsize'.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 12, 2014:

Ruby, I agree that it is a personal choice. I wrote the hub primarily for people who cannot afford to retire or those who have medical conditions and can't take care of their home. I appreciate your comments.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 11, 2014:

Downsizing is not for everyone. I need space. I can't imagine moving. I love to have room for family and friends, plus i just like a big house. I like to decorate and plant a garden. My sister downsized and she misses her home. So i guess it's a matter of choice. Interesting topic. Enjoyed reading...

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 11, 2014:

Time Traveler, I will be interested in reding your article also. Thanks for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 11, 2014:

Pop, We are in our same home also, but since it is paid for and we care for my 90 year old mother, this seems practice for the time being. As we age we will probably downsize as this home is more worki. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 11, 2014:

DDE, Your comments are so truel Thank you so much for your comment.

Sondra Rochelle from USA on March 11, 2014:

Great article. I recently wrote one about the realities of retirement and I think folks should read them both!

breakfastpop on March 11, 2014:

This is a very sensible and informative hub. My husband and I are still in our home and loving it. We utilize every room and we have plenty of space for our grandchildren to visit and sleep over. When that changes, well see.....

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 11, 2014:

The cost of living is increasing and still many people want the big homes large bedrooms and all that space costs money. It is a wonderful idea to live with basic needs and basic spaces a well-shared hub

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 11, 2014:

Jodah, I think some people are doing the same thing here. They can spend time in various areas of the country for an extended period of time, which I would love to do. Thanks so much for sharing this trend and for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 11, 2014:

Alicia, I was hoping this hub would make people think about their long range plans. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 11, 2014:

Audry, I have some friends that have been so glad they made the decision to downsize. Thanks so much for your comments.

Dianna Mendez on March 11, 2014:

We are in the process of downsizing as we head towards retirement. Yes, it's too much space and we seek a simpler lifestyle. Great post reflecting what most baby boomers are experiencing.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on March 11, 2014:

Good informative hub for us baby boomers Pamela. Yes downsizing is the go. In Australia many retirees instead of going into retirement villages, sell up their houses and by motorhomes or caravans and take to the road travelling all over the country and staying where they want fr as long as they want. We call them the grey nomads and my wife and I may consder it when we have no pets. Voted up.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 10, 2014:

This is useful information, Pamela. Your hub covers an important topic that many of us need to think about when we reach a certain stage in life!

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on March 10, 2014:

I have downsized big-time. And perfectly happy to do so.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 10, 2014:

Jo, Now that the housing market is doing a bit better a couple has a better chance of getting a better price for their house.. I think this is a topic many people are considering as I know some elderly couples in our church have moved into smaller homes that are easier to maintain, which is another important reason to donsider downsizing..Thanks so much for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 10, 2014:

Great! That means you don't have too much yard work to do and can do the things you enjoy. I appreciate the comment.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 10, 2014:

JamaGenes, I agree with you completely. It is too much work to maintain a large house and why should an older person have to work at all? I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 10, 2014:

Billy, People so often can't retire because they needed so much as you stated. We paid our home off several years ago, and it is just an ordinary size home, which is plenty of space for us. Thanks for your comments.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on March 10, 2014:

Hi Pamela, great hub! I agree, down sizing is the sensible way for many reasons, as you have explained. Some people, however; will find it a bit of a wrench leaving their homes, but they must balance the pros and cons. This is something many of us should be considering.

The Frog Prince from Arlington, TX on March 10, 2014:

If I down size anymore I'll be living in a tent :)

The Frog

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on March 10, 2014:

These days, it's less a matter of "should boomers downsize" than "CAN boomers downsize". Too many took out second mortgages and selling out is not as easy as it used to be, or if they can sell, they may not get as much as they'd like (or need) from the sale.

For those who can, it's silly not to downsize, especially if for empty-nesters. The one sure way to prevent grown children from coming back to the nest is to move to a place that has no room for them.

It's also silly to keep a now-too-large home mainly to have a place for the kids and grandkids to gather at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Time to start a new tradition of gathering at the homes of the kids instead!

If downsizing means not having to work an extra job to keep up a nearly empty house and its yard, I say go for it! Even better is if downsizing means one doesn't have to work at all! ;-}

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 10, 2014:

I have written about this often, how the average home is now 2,480 feet when it once was 940.....and why? Why is that space "needed?" Well, the reality is that it is not is wanted.

Bev and I live in 1,000 square feet and we are going to downsize to 700 in two from our standpoint yes, baby boomers should downsize.