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Pros & Cons of Downsizing Your Home in Retirement

Getting ready to retire? Whether you’re thinking about moving to a smaller home or relocating to a retirement community, there are a lot of factors to consider before you finalize your retirement living options. Calculate what you can afford, take stock of what you want in retirement, and think about the role that housing plays in your transition to retirement. Check out our guide below to see if downsizing for retirement is right for you!

Advantages of Downsizing

Moving into an apartment, townhome, condo, or even a smaller house comes with a lot of perks like fewer expenses, less stress, and more amenities. We’ve compiled a list of why downsizing your home in retirement may be the best option for you!

You’ll Save Money

Downsizing for retirement is a great way to save money on mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utility costs, and more. You’ll also be able to cut back on maintenance and upkeep services like lawn care and snow removal when you downsize from a large home to a smaller home.

You’ll Have a Chance to Declutter

When downsizing, you can go through items in your home and get rid of belongings that are taking up too much room or aren’t being used anymore. Decluttering can be a difficult process, but in the end, you’ll be more organized and have more space for the things that matter most.

There’s Less Stress & Upkeep

It’s no secret that there’s less stress and maintenance when you downsize to a smaller space. Depending on which retirement living option you choose, you won’t have to worry about the hassle of keeping up with home improvement, lawn maintenance, or unexpected repair costs.

You Can Focus on Fun Activities

Because you’re spending less time and money on maintaining your home, you’re free to pursue your retirement hobbies and interests! Taking advantage of social activities in retirement communities or learning new skills are both ways to stay busy in your golden years.

You Can Relocate to a New State

Moving to a smaller home doesn’t mean you have to stay put in your current city. Relocating to a different city or state is an excellent way to explore new things and meet new people during retirement. When choosing a new place to live, look for areas with good healthcare, low costs of living, tax benefits, and great amenities.

You Can Strengthen Family Ties

Downsizing your home can give you an opportunity to move closer to parents, siblings, or other family members. It’s also common in many cultures for retired people to move in with their children, which allows you to save money, bond with your family, and get care from someone you trust as you age.

There Are Great Amenities

Moving to a townhome or condo can provide you with access to unique amenities like lawn care and snow removal services. If you need help with home maintenance, most rental properties provide the assistance you need. There are also beneficial amenities like gyms or pools to take advantage of, and many 55+ communities offer community activities like trivia nights, singles’ nights, and book clubs.

You’ll Have More Accessibility

Downsizing your home can provide you with better accessibility, such as having fewer or even no stairs. Ranch-style houses are a great option if you’re looking to have no steps and stay on one level. You may also want to look into homes built with seated showers and wider doorways for handicap accessibility.

Disadvantages of Downsizing

Just as there are pros to downsizing, there are cons of downsizing in retirement. From your home’s emotional ties to space restrictions, you’ll want to factor in the things that can make the downsizing process difficult.

Buying & Selling a Home Is Expensive

When you’re in the process of downsizing, buying and selling real estate is an expensive venture. Home repairs, inspections, real estate fees, closing costs, new furniture, and moving expenses can quickly add up when moving out of your home.

There May Be Additional Fees

Downsizing can be expensive because of the fees involved at many rental properties. There are apartment fees and condo fees that cover things like trash management, security, interior and exterior maintenance, and utilities. In some retirement communities and neighborhoods, you may find that there’s Homeowner’s Association (HOA) fees that come with some restrictions and rules to follow. The average HOA fee for a single-family home in America is about $250 and can vary depending on the home’s square footage and location.

Adjusting to a New Community Can Be Hard

Moving into a new neighborhood or retirement community can be an adjustment for retired people. Getting out to meet new people could be a challenge if most of your friends live near your old home. Although you can travel to see your friends, it’s important to branch out to meet new neighbors and get involved in local clubs or community events.

There Are Emotional Ties to Your Home

Selling and moving out of your family home may be emotionally tough because of the memories and sentimental value. It’s the place where you raised a family, spent time and money renovating your home to your liking, and hosted gatherings. It may be hard to say goodbye to the home and all of the memories that were made there.

You’ll Have Less Space & Privacy

Some homeowners may feel cramped after moving to a smaller home. There may not be enough room to host out-of-town guests or comfortably host a big holiday dinner. And if you’re living in a duplex or apartment, you may need to adjust to shared walls and hearing people above and beneath you.

There May Be Rules About Pets

It’s important to think about the rules for pets when downsizing in retirement. Your new home may not have a fenced-in backyard anymore for your dog to run around or room for your cat to safely explore. If you’re downsizing to an apartment, there may be strict pet regulations to keep in mind like breed, size, number, and type of pet.

What Are Your Downsizing Options?

Small Bungalow Home with Red Door and White Picket Fence. Photo by Instagram user @pattypixley

Photo via @pattypixley

Ready to downsize your home? The decision to downsize should be made based off of your current savings, your goals for retirement, and your health needs. Consider these living options for your retirement!

Move in with a Child

Looking for a way to stay close to your family? Move in with an adult child, if their living situation allows it! This provides you with a convenient option for retirement living because you can get health assistance from them, as well as strengthen your relationship with your family. You can also look into adding an in-law suite to the home, which is a private living area that provides a senior resident with their own bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.

Buy a Smaller Home

Purchasing a smaller home is a common way to downsize. The benefits of less square footage include fewer rooms to heat and cool, lower utility bills, less home maintenance, and lower property taxes. If you want good accessibility, look for a ranch or a tiny house to settle down in for retirement.

Look into a Townhome or Condo

Moving into a townhome or condo is a good downsizing option for retirement. The perks include less maintenance, a convenient location, a sense of community, and great amenities. There may be less privacy from your neighbors, though, depending on how the walls are situated in your townhome.

Rent an Apartment

Living in an apartment is a great option for retirement! Renting is often cheaper than a mortgage, and there’s less maintenance. Apartment living also comes with many amenities to enjoy like clubhouses, pools, gyms, laundry rooms, and more.

Consider a 55+ Community

Take advantage of living in a 55+ community during retirement! This retirement housing option gives you a sense of community with your peers, and it comes with amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers, and golf courses. Taxes are generally low in the area because there typically aren’t any schools nearby. However, you should be prepared to pay HOA fees in some 55+ communities.

Opt for Assisted Living

When you’re in the process of downsizing, assisted living may be great for you! This option is very flexible—you can opt for independent living in an apartment or choose more assistance if your health declines. This is also an excellent option when planning ahead for your golden years.

Adventure in an RV

If you like adventure, consider purchasing an RV to live out of and travel the country! There are many types of RVs to choose from like motorhomes, travel trailers, and campers. What are the benefits of living in an RV? You can conveniently take road trips, plus there’s no mortgage, energy bills, or homeowner’s insurance.

Sail Away on a Boat

Want to live near the water in retirement? Consider living on a boat! Rather than paying a mortgage or rent on a house or condo, you’d pay for mooring or docking at a marina. You get the benefit of being surrounded by people, ease of travel, and the laid-back boat life. Plus, boat living is eco-friendly because it reduces your energy consumption compared to living in a traditional home.


Need a secure place to store belongings while downsizing your home? Extra Space Storage has easily accessible storage facilities across the country to help ease you into retirement. Find self storage near you!

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