One of life’s key transitions affecting a family’s housing decisions is when children leave the nest. However, there is more to consider in downsizing than square footage and number of bedrooms. Here are 3 considerations for those beginning the process.
1. Consider downsizing sooner than later. We all expect our homes to be the hub of family gatherings. However, children will leave to have lives of their own, with busy schedules and options other than home for the holidays. Visits are often fewer than we imagine, and that’s ok!
You will be free to travel yourself, and a smaller home can give you financial freedom and lessen upkeep demands. When family does come to visit for holidays, a little overcrowded craziness should be embraced. The longer you keep a large family home, the more tempting it is for them to return after college to live… indefinitely. Depending on your family situation, you may want to begin the downsizing process earlier, even if all children have not left. This can help you financially as well as ease into the transition of your new life as an empty nester so that being in your family home without kids is not such a big adjustment.
2. Consider what life is going to be like when your home is not teenager-centered. Take some time to consider your family’s routine and how you use your home. You may be surprised how much time is dictated by your children’s activities. What will change when your children are no longer in the home? What are your “wish list” features?
Some questions to ask yourself:
Do I really want the upkeep of a large yard or pool? What outdoor space features are most important to my new life?
Do I need a large recreation room or will a keeping room or smaller bonus room upstairs be sufficient? Where will grandkids play one day?
Do I need a two story home, or is it time to keep most living space on the ground floor?
How often will spare bedrooms be used, and are there creative ways to accommodate guests?
Do I need exercise equipment in my home or just walking trails and a nearby gym? How important is a dedicated home office?
How much and what type of storage do I need? Just because kids go off to college, does not mean their stuff leaves with them! Of course, the more storage you have, the longer their stuff will stay.
3. Consider long-term needs. If you are looking for a home that will see you into your retirement, you will want to consider how your home will accommodate your lifestyle and priorities as you age. Long-term considerations include finances and budget, proximity to family, health and mobility changes, access to transportation, and home amenities that you will enjoy as you age.
Life will be different as an empty nester, but instead of being sad or depressing it really can be exciting and joyful. We spend so much time with our lives focused on our children… this life stage gives you the opportunity to make “you” and your spouse a priority again. Consult your Realtor who can show you the best options for downsizing and help you make the most of your new adventure!
Debbie and her husband, Kevin, have 4 children and 8 grandchildren. Their youngest leaves the nest this fall to attend Ole Miss.