According to Merrill Lynch and an Age Wave Report, an estimated 4.2 million retirees moved to a new home in 2014. And overall 64 percent of retirees plan on moving at least one time during their retirement. The NYT recently discussed with experts the hidden benefits and challenges of deciding to downsize.
Moving during retirement presents unique and challenging decisions. After living in the same home for most of your adult life and raising children can be quite “disruptive” says Steven A. Sass research economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. This transition can mean moving away “from your life, your neighborhood”. Mr. Sass recommends “the earlier you do it the better, physically, socially, and financially. It’s giving up something today for something you want or need”. These benefits can include a fresh start, less house related expenses, lower living expenses, and a different lifestyle with more opportunities and freedom to travel.
The fresh start gives you a chance to reflect on where you have been and where you plan on going. The downsizing process is much more of a physical change. For many retirees downsizing creates an opportunity to create a new life in a new space. “Getting rid of stuff was so liberating” one retiree said. Gary W. Small director of the UCLA Longevity Center and President of the American Society for Geriatric Psychiatry “You’re empowering yourself because you’re enabling yourself to make the decision about things. It frees up when we discard things”. Although the difficulty in discarding things can be an uneasy reminder that we do not live forever. Dr. Small said “We’re all mortal. The issue is balance. You can’t hold onto all things. One of the upsides to downsizing is it allows us to live more in the present”.
Set aside to time to go through your possessions and decide which items family members want, which to sell, donate, or keep. This process may require professional assistance like a professionally managed estate sale, garage sales, or yard sale. Either way it is important to give your self time to assess your possessions and strategically plan what your next step is together.