Downsizing early offers financial,
quality-of-life benefits
Downsizing early offers financial, <br>quality-of-life benefits

When is the right time to downsize your home? Maybe sooner than you think!

Twenty years ago, our typical home buyer was a couple in their 60’s or 70’s, usually retired with grandchildren. They realized they didn’t want to deal with the maintenance and costs of owning a larger home. They were interested in freeing up their time for pursuits that mattered to them and living in a community with other active adults who had the same interests and priorities in life.

Today, we are seeing those same desires in a younger buyer. Couples and singles in their 50’s who are still working and have children in the later years of high school or college are embracing the concept of downsizing at an earlier stage of life.

Nationwide, baby boomers are starting to see the advantages of downsizing at an earlier age. While it can be tough to let go of a home filled with memories, it also makes good sense in a number of important ways.

Financial upsides to downsizing

For instance, downsizing early can have a significant impact on an empty nester’s long-term financial plan. Even with a mortgage that has been paid off, housing can account for up to 30 percent of retirement expenses, according to Steven Sass, an associate director at the Boston College Center for Retirement Research.

A new online tool created by the BC Center for Retirement Research helps homeowners figure out how much they will save annually by moving to a smaller home. It’s a pretty interesting way to see how much you would save each year by downsizing!

In addition, the maintenance costs for an older home can really add up. Not only are there predictable costs to maintain the yard and interior of a larger home, but an unexpected roof or furnace replacement can be a real budget buster. And the cost to heat and cool a large, older home definitely outweighs that of a new, smaller one. Visit the Indianapolis Power and Light’s website to get a read on your current home’s energy usage  and see how that compares to a home that’s half the size.

It’s factors such as these that have struck a chord with the baby-boom buyers in Indianapolis. Moving from an older, larger home to a more efficient floor plan and low-maintenance yard were major motivators for two of our younger empty-nest homeowners.

Finding more time to enjoy life

Kelly and Dave Mikesell, homeowners at the Village of West Clay, were 48 and 50 years old when they began to discuss the possibility of downsizing. Both maintain busy full-time careers, Kelly as a corporate vice president of marketing and Dave as a high school guidance counselor. Their son had entered his senior year of high school and they realized their 5,800 square foot home would not be needed in the same way once he left for college.

“Why clean five toilets or spend hours in the yard maintaining our landscaping when we really wanted to have our weekends free to see him play soccer in college or to start taking some weekend getaways?” explains Kelly.

They also wanted to build a home that better fit the lifestyle they were about to embark upon. “I had always had a desire to build a house,” she says. “I had collected files full of ideas for years. I wanted to build a home where we used every room and really thought about the layout and amenities we wanted.”

Floor plans that fit your lifestyle

Brian and Kelly Smith, homeowners at Wintergreen in Bridgewater, have a similar story. They were also both close to 50 years old, had active careers in the media and arts industries, and had a son entering his senior year in high school when they realized that their 6,000-square foot home was too big and time-consuming for the carefree life they envisioned in their near future.

Kelly says they researched options for about six months before moving forward with building a new home. “Even though we liked a lot of the older homes we visited, we realized we would have to do extensive remodeling to get the type of home we wanted, “ she says. “We liked the floor plans offered in Wintergreen and were excited to have a design that suited our new lifestyle.”

Kelly says they have no regrets about their decision to downsize. “We are now in a ranch with a full basement and find that we have more than enough room, even when the kids bring home a bunch of their friends! We designed our home knowing what the flow of our life is like now and are truly enjoying it.”

Kelly Mikesell agrees. “We love the home and enjoyed the process of choosing what we wanted and mapping out a floor plan that will work for us in our later years. It is also amazing to us, when we hear our friends talk about their weekend chores, how much time we have back to do the things we enjoy.”

Her favorite perk about maintenance-free living? “When you come home from work in the evening, you aren’t faced with the sound of lawn mowers,” says Kelly Mikesell. “You can actually sit on the porch, crack open the newspaper or a book, pour a nice glass of wine and enjoy the peacefulness of your outdoor living spaces.”

Doesn’t get much better than that!

Let us know if we can help you with your downsizing plans.

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