My wife and I were talking the other day about downsizing our home and how we've been trying for years. We are part of the baby boomer generation that is also becoming known as the "sandwich generation". The what? Well, I'm glad you asked.
People in the sandwich generation are folks like me who not only have had kids come back to live in the house but have also had to make room for their parents to move in.
I had 4 kids and told them all that once they were out, they each had one "move back in free card". Well, I'll be damned if they didn't all use it at one time or another for various reasons. Don't get me wrong, I was more than happy to make room for them all. Then on top of that, my parents moved in with us a few years back, and that's where we had been "sandwiched" between our kids and our parents.
So this raises the question, does your current home fit your retirement plans? Don't just think space and room for the family that one time a year we all get together, you also have to think affordability, maintenance, mobility, security and convenience.
It may be easy enough to afford your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Whether or not you have a mortgage you still have things like utilities, insurance, HOA fees, property taxes...all the fun stuff that goes along with owning your home. So you need to ask yourself, would moving mean your taxes go down? Do you pick a place where all the maintenance is included in the HOA fee? How will all this fit with your retirement budget?
Along with that goes equity. How much do you have in your current home and will it be enough to help you buy your next one?
My dad had two schools of thought when it came to keeping up our house. The first was "as long as I'm physically able to do it, by God I'm gonna do it!" and the older he got it became "Been there done that, I'll hire someone else to do it." Let's face it as we get older the tolerance for dealing with dirty gutters, shoveling snow, mowing the grass and that kind of thing goes away. Would a place with an HOA that covers all that give you peace of mind knowing you don't have to do it anymore.
None of us wants to ever think that one day we may need a wheelchair or a walker to get around, however, it does happen. The way your home is laid out is very important when it comes to thinking about your mobility. Does the home you're in now allow easy access to all the places you want to go or is it time to think about a one level home (with a basement for the grandkids of course) that's easier to get around in.
Sadly, we've all heard the stories of people breaking in to "old folks" houses and stealing their stuff. The elderly make easier targets for criminals so maybe you need to think about a manned gated community, security system in the home and other things to make you feel safer.
Lastly, how convenient is your home to everything you want to enjoy? My wife and I have always said that when we downsize it will be closer to the highway. We live where we do because we moved there for the schools and for our kids, but it takes us 40 minutes just to get to the highway to start our vacation! What do you like to do? Golf? Shop? Eat out? Go to the movies? Maybe you want to be closer to all that, sometimes close enough to walk would be nice, too.
I guess what I'm saying is, as much as we love our home and hate the thought of moving ('cause let's face it it's a pain) all of the things I've talked about do matter when it comes to being comfortable in our forever home. If you've been considering downsizing, I hope this has helped you to think about some things you may not have.