How Seniors Can Navigate Difficult Downsizing Decisions
Guest Article by Jim Vogel
Even when you’re excited about it, moving is always a stressful transition. Downsizing can be more challenging than an average move, and seniors in the midst of this major lifestyle change have several difficult decisions to make. We’ve covered some of the ins and outs of the biggies to help you with the process.
Going from a bigger to smaller house has many benefits, not the least of which is having less home to maintain, less home to heat and cool, less home to pay taxes on, and less home to insure. But having less home is also one of the hardest parts of downsizing, because it means you need to cut the number of things in your possession.
There is often a lot of paring down to do, and the sooner you get started, the better. The kids’ school momentos, your dusty treadmill, and Great-Aunt Edna’s hand-crocheted blanket might all be on the chopping block. (Okay, the blanket stays!)
If you are like many seniors and have owned your home for a long time, this can mean you have an abundance of editing to do. To help you with decluttering, The Washington Post recommends having a friend or relative join in the fun. The insights of someone who isn’t emotionally involved but understands your priorities can make a big difference when you come to things you aren’t sure about.
With less space, you also might struggle with certain large items, simply due to size. If you can’t decide whether you have enough room for something, or just need some time to think, consider renting a storage unit until you’re settled. It’s a small investment in your peace of mind.
Sometimes the time apart from your stuff helps you know how meaningful it all really is, and once you’re in the new place, you can better tell what will work and what won’t. For the things you definitely aren’t keeping, it can help you feel better by giving them new life. With that in mind, consider recycling, donating, or selling them whenever possible.
The Family Home
Parting ways with the house that helped nurse dreams, raise children, build careers, and get to this point in life is often one of the biggest issues for seniors who are downsizing. Selling it can be emotionally challenging, especially if you would like to see it passed along in the family. Overcoming those ties can be hard, but as Dave Ramsey points out, sometimes it’s in your best financial interests to sell your property.
Take a careful look at your financial position and whether or not you can afford two properties. If you’re looking to sell your home, you can use this PennyMac home worth tool to get a home value estimate. You should also consider real estate trends in your area (homes in Tucson have been selling for an average of $220,000 over last 30 days).
If you’re considering leaving your home empty, many of the expenses continue, such as utilities and taxes, and you might lose your insurance if the home remains unoccupied. Additionally, vacant homes are at risk for vandalism and robbery, and they still need to be maintained so the weather and pests don’t take advantage of the situation.
Renting the home is a way to offset costs and keeps it occupied, although as The Balance explains, there is some work involved. You still have ongoing maintenance (which averages $16,097 per year in Arizona), and you have the landlord-related burdens. You’ll need to decide how much to charge for rent, advertise the property, screen tenants, and configure a system for rent collection. There are apps to help you along, or you can hire a property manager to handle the workload on your behalf.
Downsizing presents some big dilemmas. Do some editing, give yourself time and space to think, and contemplate what the future holds for your old house. Soon, you’ll have it all sorted out, and you can settle into your new, smaller home.
*This is a guest article by Jim Vogel… If you would like to submit your article for possible publication on KarlBuysHouses click here!