Downsizing Questions: Is the Family Home Worth Keeping?

America has finally reached the point at which baby boomers are starting to retire in large numbers. Undoubtedly, many of them will consider selling the family home in order to downsize. Some will not. Some baby boomers will stay in their family homes until it is no longer physically possible for them to do so. The thing is, there is no right or wrong here.

Is the family home worth keeping in retirement? There is no easy answer. Family homes mean different things to different people. Anyone seriously considering downsizing has to embrace the fact that doing so means giving up the family home. That is not necessarily as easy as it sounds.

If you have been thinking about downsizing, you know you have a lot of difficult things to work through. At the top the list is whether or not you really want to leave your family home. This post is for you. It poses several questions about the family home that, when answered, might make it easier for you to reach a decision.

Does leaving the family home make financial sense?

Downsizing is often about alleviating oneself of the responsibilities of taking care of a large home. Still, the financial aspects cannot be ignored. Ask yourself if leaving the family home makes financial sense. Maybe even sit down and run the numbers. You might be surprised at what you learn.

It is not unusual for a downsizing couple to own their home free and clear. That’s big. Not having to make a monthly mortgage payment certainly takes a load off the couple’s finances during retirement. Are you in that position? If so, will you end up with a new rent or mortgage payment by downsizing? Taking on a new housing payment might not make sense for your finances.

Do you ever use the excess space in your home?

Downsizing can seem very attractive when you consider not having a big house to keep clean and maintain. But stop and ask yourself if you ever use that excess space. Perhaps your kids and grandkids all live within a few minutes of your home. As such, you rarely have overnight guests. You may not need all of that extra space.

On the other hand, maybe the kids and grandkids live far enough away that you don’t see them regularly. You cherish the time they spend visiting during the summer and over the holidays. And yes, you would rather they stay with you than at the hotel. Perhaps keeping the family home to accommodate those visits is a wise idea.

Is the sentimental attachment to your home strong?

We have worked with downsizing clients whose sentimental attachment to their family homes was virtually nonexistent. As such, they were able to sell with very little emotional distress. On the other hand, we have also worked with clients in the opposite situation. We have learned that some people are so emotionally attached to their homes that selling is extremely difficult.

Why does this matter? Because the most important thing in retirement, after your health, is your happiness. It might not make sense to downsize if you know you can never be happy living somewhere else. Why spend the remaining years of your life feeling a sense of profound loss over your home just to save a little money or avoid some housework?

Downsizing is absolutely the right move for some people. It is not for others. Ultimately, it is up to each one of us to make that decision for ourselves. If you are planning to downsize and would like some help doing so, please contact us. Downsizing is one of our specialties.

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