Have you heard about the “tiny house” trend? It’s an architectural and social movement that advocates simple living in small homes, some less than 100 square feet. Image that!
Beside these extremely tiny homes, the majority are 500 to 1,000 square feet and are growing in popularity. They are spurring media attention and even television shows.
While a bathroom-size home may not be your cup of tea, could a smaller home simplify your life and provide more financial freedom?
Does a Smaller Space Pique Your Interest?
Take a look around your home. Are there things you don’t really need? “Stuff” you never use. Do you truly only live in a few rooms and use your favorite things?
If you can relate, you may be ready to downsize – or “rightsize” as many like to call it. By saying goodbye to items you no longer need and home maintenance that causes you stress, you are freeing yourself to a better future. It’s a way to simplify and gain more enjoyment out of life.
3 Signs It’s Time to Downsize a Home
Typically, the best time to downsize is well before the family homestead becomes an inconvenience. Even if the mortgage is paid off, houses still generate bills for maintenance, taxes and insurance. There are still lawns that need to be mowed and snow that needs to be shoveled.
Any of these signals may mean it’s time to consider right-sizing your home:
- Your home feels like a burden. That is the No. 1 sign for most retirees. Life should be a celebration, and whether you choose to spend your senior years traveling to new places or continue to enjoy lifetime friendships, lasting interests and cultural events in familiar surroundings, you should aim to please yourself. You should not be tied to your home.
- You have rooms you haven’t entered in a year except to dust. Americans affection for big houses is well-documented. But at some point, big houses just become costly, unused space. Simply put, smaller homes are less space, meaning less maintenance, work and worry.
- You have too much stuff. Do you waste time hunting for things? How often are you sifting through drawers filled with stuff you don’t use? Downsizing can be very liberating. It forces you to pare down your possessions and prioritize what is really important to you.
Finding and Moving into a Smaller Place
A move to a smaller home means more time for the things you love, whether that’s traveling, visiting friends and family or attending events and activities. You are gaining freedom to structure your days and your life in a way that bring you happiness and fulfillment.
As you consider your options for how you want to live and where you want to live post-career, keep these tips in mind:
- Define your top three criteria for a smaller space, advises the experts at Houzz, an online platform for home designs. Strive to get your top three priorities met and compromise on others.
For example, at a senior living community, many residents are willing to downsize to a home with a smaller kitchen for community provided dining options and less time doing dishes! Know yourself and stick with what’s important to you.
- Seek out lifestyle options that reflect your values and your passions. Think seriously about what will really make you happy. For example, if you want to travel, find a home where you can easily pick up and go with peace of mind. In your current home, could you leave for a vacation tomorrow?
- Consider communities and neighborhoods for 55+, where the homes, services, amenities and neighbors fit the life you want to live. Make it an investment into your future. Consider a Continuing Care Retirement Community to cover your long-term needs and the possibility of future life changes.
How Much is a Big Home Costing You?
While the extra bedrooms, home office, basement, game room and large yard were wonderful while raising your family, have you taken time to consider what your current home is costing you today? Have you taken into consideration all of the expenses, from insurance and taxes to utilities and maintenance on space you never use?
To help you get started answering these questions, use our cost comparison worksheet to guide you line by line through the home expenses to consider and how to calculate a total.
Also, here are two examples from financial planners who have witnessed the benefits of downsizing in retirement.
From investment blogger Roger Whitney: “One couple I know sold their 3,000-square-foot suburban home and virtually everything in it. With what they earned, they bought a condo in downtown Austin and furnished it from the ground up for a fresh start. Their new place is about a third the size of what they lived in before, and much closer to the things they care about now that their kids are out of the house. They’re steps away from work, trails, coffee shops, restaurants and shopping. Instead of focusing on upkeep and commuting, they can focus on friends and experiences.”
A retirement planning firm in Indiana uses this example: A couple with a 5,000-square-foot home in the suburbs downsized to 2,000-square-foot, maintenance-free home, saving them $10,000 a year in utilities and maintenance and $40,000 in mortgages payments and property taxes. They now have an additional $50,000 a year for enjoyment or future investments.
In Summary: Smaller is Happening in a Big Way
The trend toward smaller homes is growing across all age groups. In fact, for the first time since the recession, home size is actually shrinking.
Median single-family square floor footage fell by 73 feet, according to the National Association of Home Builders. It’s a reversal from previous years when homes just kept getting bigger and bigger.
Trends are showing many Americans are drawn to a simpler lifestyle and are more cautious with the costs of homeownership, due to having gone through one of the worst financial crisis in history. They don't seem to crave size as much as they do the ideal location and amenities within, such as the latest technology and modern appliances.
Homeowners are scaling back size to get the lifestyle they want. In other words, many are finding bigger isn't necessarily better.
Twin Lakes is a senior living community with a variety of independent living homes for those 55+. Due to high demand, we’re currently making room by adding brand new 1- and 2-bedroom apartment homes. Get more details on our new construction, including the floorplans, below.