I was at a funeral recently for a friend’s mother and sat next to a man who was the surviving spouse’s oldest friend. He was 85 years old, and had been friends with the husband for more than 70 years. He told me that his wife died about eight years ago, and after spending six years rattling around in a five-bedroom house by himself, he decided to move and downsize his life. That got me thinking about how he—and others like him—made the decision to downsize.
There are many reasons people choose to simplify their lives: the kids are gone (or a spouse has died) and the house is now too big and too much to take care of; there are too many steps; you want to reduce your expenses and spend less on housing; you want to relocate to another area; you want to move to a different kind of home (e.g., a condo, a continuing care retirement community); or sadly, you can no longer take care of yourself and it’s not safe to be in the house anymore.
Once you’ve made the decision that it’s time to move on, you need to explore your options and your choices, many of which were described in the preceding paragraph.
- Do you want one-story living?
- Do you want to move to be closer to family?
- Are you considering a continuing care retirement community where you could start in independent living, but move on to assisted living should it be necessary?
- Do you want to reduce the costs associated with your housing?
- Do you want to be near public transportation? Or cultural activities and events? Or good medical care? Or warmer weather?
It’s never easy to move from a place where you may have lived for 20 years or more. There is a sense of familiarity and comfort that is difficult to leave, especially as we get older. Change is much harder at 70 than it was at 30. However, once you’ve decided that it is time to move on, you should spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out where you want to go by exploring what’s important to you, what you want/must have in your next home, and what you are hoping to achieve with your next move (as this may be your last). Talking to friends, family, and your Wealth Manager can get you thinking smartly about how best to downsize your life. This is something that should be done sooner rather than later, because as I often say, “You want to move while you are still able, not because you have to.” In other words, don’t wait until it’s too late—plan and prepare earlier rather than later, so you are not forced into making a decision that you might regret because you had no other options.
Should you have any financial questions about downsizing—or any other financial matter—please contact your advisor who will be happy to help you sort through your options.
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