How to Downsize After Your Kids Move Out

Unless your adult children are living at home as part of what Forbes calls the “boomerang” generation, chances are you’re trying to figure out how to downsize now that the kids are out of the house. Not only would it save on the energy it takes to run a large household, but it’s a smart financial move to shed unnecessary costs as you ready yourself for retirement.

So how are you supposed to downsize in a way that’s best for you?

Determine Location by Rethinking What You Want in Life Moving Forward

Chances are, you no longer care about living near affordable day care, but maybe you still want to live near a park for quality visits with future grandchildren. The first thing to do when figuring out how to downsize is to have both you and your partner write a list of the things you want in life moving forward, including:

  • Proximity to relatives — How close do you want to live to relatives (a car ride or an airplane ride away)?
  • Accessibility of amenities — How important is it that you live near things like grocery stores, restaurants, golf courses or other retail outlets?
  • Desire to maintain a residence — If you’re tired of home maintenance, you might want to rent your next home. From a financial perspective, you can plug the numbers into a Rent vs. Buy Mortgage Calculator to see what makes sense.

After you each make a list individually, come together and talk about them. Be sure to listen to each other’s needs and wants and to prioritize each person’s must-haves.

Determine Size by Thinking Ahead in Terms of Space Needs

You want to have enough space so you can host company, entertain grandchildren or even take an adult child back in who might find themselves in need of a transition place to live. Perhaps you want to continue the tradition of hosting annual holiday dinners and need to make sure the home you choose to downsize to has ample space to accommodate a large gathering several times a year.

Determine Price by Projecting Your Income and Expenses in Retirement

This next home you move into could be the one you’ll retire in. Consider what your projected income is in retirement and make sure you can easily afford your next residence (with a buffer for the unexpected, such as medical bills). Now would be a good time to discuss with a financial advisor how much money you can afford to spend each month.

Other considerations include:

  • Lifestyle changes — When looking at your budget, consider lifestyle changes you want to make that you uncovered in the steps above. How much will those lifestyle changes cut into your monthly cash flow?
  • Any proceeds from the sale of your current home — If you own a home, consider how much it could bring you by calling a real estate agent and having them estimate a selling price. Decide how much will be put down on your future home or rental, and how this will affect your monthly cost.

After moving through these exercises to determine how to downsize, it’s time to start looking around for residences. Take your time and have some fun with it. After all, it’s your chance to chart a new course.

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