How to Navigate the Downsizing Process as a Senior

How to Navigate the Downsizing Process as a Senior


Despite the fond memories of your house, you might face the difficult decision to relocate to a smaller home. Downsizing may be the right decision, albeit a daunting one. If you feel overwhelmed with the number of choices you’ll need to make, here’s a breakdown to ease the transition so you can get back to enjoying your retirement years.

Where to Live?

The first and arguably most crucial decision to make when it comes to downsizing is determining where you (or your senior loved one) will live. Luckily, you have several options to choose from, including the following:

  • Independent Living. Independent living communities can help you age in place in your own private apartment surrounded by a community of other seniors. Before committing to a community, tour a few local options and make sure they have the amenities you need. According to A Place for Mom, independent living communities in Philadelphia often provide housekeeping, food prep, and leisure activities for you.
  • Nursing Home. The National Institute on Aging notes that nursing homes “provide a wide range of health and personal care services” like skilled nursing care, 24-hour supervision, meals, and various forms of therapies, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Additionally, some communities offer on-site rehabilitation services, if needed. Nursing homes are the best choice for individuals who require constant care and monitoring due to a variety of physical and/or mental conditions.
  • Assisted Care. Assisted care is a happy medium for those who don’t require constant care in a nursing home environment, yet can no longer live independently. In an assisted living facility, you’ll receive daily care, such as meal prep or housekeeping services. The AARP says you can expect the freedom to live independently in an apartment-type unit while sharing common areas with other residents. Sizes, costs, and amenities vary from state to state, so tour several facilities to find one that works best for you.

What to Do with Your Current Home?

Now that you’ve decided where you’d like to live, it’s time to consider what you’ll do with your current home after you move. Due to the nostalgic memories tied to your home, this decision can often prove difficult. However, you still have a few options. For instance, you might sell your home, especially if you have equity and you stand to make a profit in the local housing market.

If you’re not ready to sell, consider renting out your home. This option makes sense in many circumstances, such as when you still owe money on the home, are upside-down on your mortgage, or if you live in an area where you’ll have difficulty selling. However, renting your home means you’ll be responsible for the upkeep, collecting payments, and completing repairs, so this option works best if you have property management experience. Because renting your home can be risky, be sure to invest in landlord insurance if you decide to go this route.

As an alternative to renting or selling, you might decide you’d rather keep the home in the family. If you have a relative in mind, you could sell the home to him or her or arrange to bequeath your property to your loved one. If you live in one of the twenty-five states that allow Transfer-on-Death deeds, that could be an additional option for you. Passing your home along to someone else is an emotional process, so be sure to weigh each option carefully. That way, you’ll feel confident you’ve made the best possible decision for your unique situation.

If you’re downsizing, you’re not alone. An estimated 12 percent of adults downsize each year, according to the latest data. Although relocating into a smaller home can seem overwhelming at first, the process becomes more manageable when you take it one step at a time. By planning ahead and doing your research, you can get back to relaxing during your golden years.


Guest Author: Jim Vogel


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