by Donna Leibow
Licensed Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams – Senior Certified
Are You an Empty-Nester?
I work with many home buyers who are empty nesters. The kids left home to live on their own, leaving them behind with emptier and quieter houses. What to do? Many people struggle with the many choices.
The questions I hear most often from clients include: Should we stay in the house although it seems too big now? Should we downsize to a smaller home or townhouse for less maintenance? Relocate to a home in an active adult community? Or upsize to a larger home to accommodate visiting grandchildren?
What is the Next Best Step for You?
Though your specific needs are unique, confusion about how best to approach this new life stage is common. What is the next step that best fits your needs and lifestyle? Unfortunately, this is a tough question. You will likely receive a great deal of well-meaning advice from family and friends, whether it’s asked for or not, but only you know what is best for you. Before making a decision, ask yourself what you want from this next phase. Consider location, neighbors, and your desire or ability to continue to maintain a house. Also factor your physical health into the equation, as purchasing a home where you can age in place might make sense.
One of my clients was house hunting for a year before she finally realized she loved her home and her deep friendships with neighbors and didn’t really want to move. She had family close by, was active in the community, and did not have physical issues that made her two-story house difficult to navigate. I completely understood. If comfortable and happy in your current environment, don’t move! You may change your mind in the future, but now just may not be the right time.
Other clients can’t wait to move out of their neighborhood. The young families who moved into surrounding homes at the same time are older now if they still live there at all. Neighborhoods are often cyclical: families age out of the area and are replaced with a new generation, especially if near an elementary school. When this happens, older adults, whose living situation once provided immense satisfaction, may no longer feel like an integral part of the community.
Pros and Cons of Relocating for the Next Phase of Life
If you think you do want to relocate for the next phase, make a list of your wants and needs for a new living situation. Ask yourself the hard questions. A variety of housing options are available, and you will likely be able to find one that specifically meets your needs. The important thing is to have a clear vision of those needs. You may desire varying generations in your neighborhood, not just people your age, but want to downsize or upsize. Traditional retirement communities are another option, but the term “retirement community” is a turn-off for some people. Finally, active adult communities are sprouting up all over. The fast-growing 50+ market is hot for home builders right now, and they are taking active adult communities to a new level. Houses vary in size from large to small, single-family or attached. Most have a community center and pool and often the community association takes care of maintenance. These communities are great for people who want to live with active people in their age group and purchase their desired type/size home that allows them to age in place.
Rightsize Your Home
While you need to do the hard work to figure out where to live as empty nesters, educating yourself about the pros and cons of the different living situations is a good idea. Working with a professional realtor who knows the market is a good idea. Licensed real estate agents can present you with suitable choices based on your specific needs and bring good negotiation skills to the table.
Here are some frequently asked questions about rightsizing your home.
What does it mean to rightsize your home?
Rightsizing is the process of finding a living space that better suits your current lifestyle and needs. It’s not just about downsizing; it’s about finding the right fit for your life stage and preferences.
How is rightsizing different from downsizing?
Downsizing typically involves moving to a smaller home with fewer belongings. Rightsizing is a broader concept that focuses on finding a living situation that aligns with your needs, which might mean moving to a smaller space, but it could also involve moving to a larger place or a different location.
Why should I consider rightsizing?
Rightsizing can offer various benefits, such as reduced maintenance and costs, increased accessibility, and a more suitable living environment as your lifestyle changes.
When should I start thinking about my next step?
It’s a good idea to start considering relocating when your current home no longer meets your needs. This could be due to changes in family size, health considerations, financial factors, or a desire for a different living environment.
What factors should I consider when rightsizing?
Consider factors like your current and future lifestyle needs, location preferences, financial situation, health considerations, family size, and any specific amenities you’d like to have nearby.
How do I determine the right size for my new home?
Assess your space needs based on your lifestyle. Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you require, as well as any additional spaces like a home office, guest room, or storage areas.
How do I make the transition smoother?
Plan and give yourself plenty of time. Create a timeline for packing, moving, and settling into your new home. Enlist help from family, friends, or professionals if needed.
How do I emotionally prepare for moving after becoming an empty nester?
Acknowledge that it’s a significant life change. Focus on the positive aspects of your new living situation, such as less maintenance, reduced costs, and the opportunity for new experiences.
Should I involve professionals in the process?
Yes, professionals like real estate agents, financial advisors, and moving companies can provide valuable guidance. They can help you find the right home, manage your finances, and make the moving process smoother.
How can I ensure my new home meets my changing needs in the long term?
Choose an adaptable home. Look for features like single-story living, wide doorways for accessibility, and a layout that can accommodate potential changes in mobility.
Moving is a personal decision, and what works for one person might not work for another. Take the time to carefully evaluate your options and make choices that align with your current and future lifestyle goals.
About the Author: Donna Leibow
A native of New Orleans, and with a degree from LSU, Donna started as an elementary school teacher. For many years, she found self-fulfillment by helping her students learn and grow. In 2008, she made a career change to real estate with Keller Williams. This was not the ideal time to begin a career in real estate, but Donna’s never-quit attitude is summed up by her favorite saying, “Dream Big!” It was because of Keller Williams’ support system and continuing education that today Donna is a Triple Diamond award winner, and mega agent, and is ranked No.7 out of 450 Keller Williams agents. And like Keller Williams, she strives to “pay it forward”, by sharing her knowledge and experience with new agents as they enter the profession. Her motto is simple: “My clients are clients for life!”.