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Learn About Senior Home Downsizing

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Learn About Senior Home Downsizing

he reasons for home downsizing or downsizing for seniors can be diverse in different groups. Many downsize for more financial flexibility and independence from the upkeep demands of large homes in old age. Other deciding factors can also be freedom from increasing unaffordability in cities and an overall desire for continued self-determination. As trends indicate, an increasing number of boomers (aged over 55) consider downsizing every year.

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In the US, the real estate site Trulia reported that many more boomers wanted to downsize than upsize (36% vs. 23%) in 2017.[i] A separate study released in December 2016 by the Demand Institute reported that almost the same percentage of boomers (37%) planned to move at some point in the future. 42% of this number expressed their preference for a smaller home.[ii] 

Similar trends can be observed in Canada, where the Boomer Trends Survey (released in August 2018 by the Royal LePage) reported that 17% of those born between 1946 and 1964 were planning to purchase a new home in the five years following the survey. 56% of the polled boomers expressed that the housing market in their city or region was unaffordable.[iii] 

A 2016 report by the UK-based independent think-tank, International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK), delved into some of the motivations behind these trends. ILC-UK reported that one in three homeowners (33%) over 55 “[were] considering, or expect[ed] to consider, downsizing in the UK.” The most important reason cited for this consideration, raised by 56% of those asked, was to lower the maintenance needed to upkeep their residence. 35% of the overall responders planned to, or had already, put the equity released from downsizing into savings accounts. Meanwhile, for those aged 55-59 (34% of the responders), the most prevalent goal was to put the released funds towards a pension.[iv]

To see if downsizing is suitable for you or your loved ones, and with the statistics and trends mentioned above in mind, we have summarized some of the benefits and disadvantages of downsizing below.

The Benefits to Downsizing(downsizing your home)

Financial Benefits: 

– Spending less on your mortgage payments 

– Paying less on utility bills

– Spending less on shopping, smaller areas reduce chances for consumerism

– Fewer costs in domestic maintenance 

Health Benefits: 

– Less stress as you are financially stable

– Less home-maintenance work and fewer physical demands and responsibilities

Social Benefits: 

– More free time, since smaller spaces require less upkeep and cleaning time, you can enjoy your life more

The Disadvantages of Downsizing:

Emotional Challenges: 

– Leaving the house you lived in for many years, and giving away your belongings can be emotionally difficult for some.

Spatial Challenges:

– You may not be able to host as many guests as you did in your old home.

– Less space for belongings or activities 

– Downsizing requires a lifestyle change.

[1] Ralph McLaughlin, “Americans (Can’t Get No) Home Size Satisfaction,” Trulia Research, March 1, 2017, https://www.trulia.com/research/home-size-survey-march-16/

[1] Alessandra Malito, “More Americans Want to Downsize Their Homes than Supersize Them,” MarketWatch, March 03, 2017, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/more-americans-want-to-downsize-their-homes-than-supersize-them-2017-03-01.

[1] Royal LePage, “More than 1.4 Million Boomers across Canada Expect to Buy a Home in the Next Five Years,” News Wire, August 08, 2018, https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/more-than-14-million-boomers-across-canada-expect-to-buy-a-home-in-the-next-five-years-690334391.html.

[1] Brian Beach, Generation Stuck Exploring the Reality of Downsizing in Later Life, report, January 2016, https://www.housinglin.org.uk/_assets/Resources/Housing/OtherOrganisation/ILC_Downsizing_Report.pdf, p.4-7. 

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