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  • John Aigner

Before Downsizing, think twice!

Updated: Apr 16, 2023


Downsizing a residence is a common decision for seniors who are looking to simplify their lives, reduce their expenses, and make their living space more manageable. However, this decision is not without its risks, and seniors need to carefully consider the potential drawbacks before taking the plunge. In this article, we will discuss some of the more obvious risks to consider when seniors or boomers consider downsizing a residence.


Financial Risks

One of the primary reasons elders consider downsizing is to reduce their expenses. However, there are some financial risks associated with this decision that you should be aware of.

Unexpected Expenses: While downsizing can reduce your overall living expenses, there may be unexpected costs associated with the move itself. These can include moving expenses, real estate commissions, and legal fees, which can add up quickly.

Reduced Equity: If you are downsizing to a smaller home, you may be selling a larger home that has more equity built up. This can mean that you have less money equity available for emergencies or other expenses in the future.

Potential Rent Increases: If you are downsizing to a rental property, there is always the risk of rent increases in the future, which can impact your budget.


Physical Risks

Moving to a smaller home can be physically demanding, especially for seniors who may have mobility issues or health problems. It is important to consider these physical risks before making the decision to downsize.

• Moving Strain: Packing and moving can be physically demanding, especially for seniors who may have limited mobility or chronic health issues.

Limited Space: Downsizing can mean that you have less space for your possessions, which can be a challenge if you have a lot of belongings and you are emotionally attached to them. This may also create the necessity of placing some of your belongings in a storage facility, temporarily, or even permanently.

Accessibility: If you have mobility issues, downsizing to a smaller home may mean that you have to navigate stairs or other obstacles that can be challenging. Keep this possibility in mind.


Social Risks

Moving to a smaller home can also have social risks that seniors need to consider.

Reduced Social Network: If you are downsizing to a new neighborhood or community, you may be leaving behind a social network that you have built up over many years.

Loss of Familiarity: Moving to a new home can mean leaving behind familiar surroundings, which can be emotionally challenging.

Loneliness: Downsizing can mean that you have less space to entertain guests, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.


Emotional Risks

Moving to a smaller home can also have emotional risks that seniors need to consider.

Attachment to Possessions: Downsizing can mean that you have to part with possessions that you are emotionally attached to, which can be a difficult process.

• Sense of Loss: Moving to a smaller home can feel like a loss, especially if you are leaving behind a home where you have many happy memories.

• Stress: Moving, on it's own, can be a stressful experience, and this can be amplified for seniors who may have health issues or other challenges.


Strategies to Minimize Risks

While there are risks associated with downsizing, there are also strategies that boomers and elders can use to minimize these risks.

Financial Planning: Seniors should consider working with a financial planner to ensure that they have a realistic budget for their new living arrangements and to identify any potential financial risks or benefits.

Accessibility Assessment: Before downsizing, families should assess the accessibility of the new living space to ensure that it is suitable for their mobility needs.

Emotional Support: Seniors should seek emotional support from family, friends, or a therapist to help them cope with the emotional challenges of downsizing.

Decluttering: Downsizing can be an opportunity to declutter and simplify your life, but it can also be a challenging process. Seniors should start decluttering well in advance of their move to ensure that they have enough time to sort through their possessions.

Research: Do thorough research on your new living arrangements before making the decision to downsize. This can include researching the neighborhood, local amenities, and available services for seniors.

Downsizing gradually: consider the option of downsizing in stages, gradually, by moving into a smaller home or apartment first before downsizing further. This can help to ease the emotional and physical strain of the move.

Renting Before Buying: If you are unsure about your new living arrangements, you may want to consider renting before buying. This can give you the opportunity to test out the new living space and neighborhood before making a long-term commitment.

Engage in Social Activities: You can engage in social activities and clubs in your new community to build new social connections and combat feelings of loneliness,

Plan Ahead: Seniors should plan ahead for their move to minimize stress and ensure a smooth transition. This can include creating a checklist, hiring professional movers, and setting up utilities and services ahead of time.

Conclusion

Downsizing a residence can be a practical decision for elders looking to simplify their lives, reduce their expenses, and make their living space more manageable. However, it is important to consider the potential risks before making the decision to downsize. You and your family should carefully assess your financial situation, physical and emotional needs, and social connections before downsizing. By doing so and implementing strategies to minimize these risks,you can make a successful transition to your new living space.



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