Trading Places

So, you’re an empty nester now. The kids are all off to college and you’re planning out the rest of your life. Think about that giant 4-5 bedroom house you live in now. Does it make sense anymore for you and your spouse and your pets? Probably not. There are two ways to approach aging in a large building, the first is to go multigenerational (becoming very popular with the college kids who can’t find a job) or trade-in for something smaller and longer-term if you were to look about at different real estate agencies such as Reali or others to try and sell your current home in place for the other. If you have a close-knit family or you expect to live with your kids as you age, then staying put can make sense, you just have to do some remodeling to make it a little more multi-family friendly and accessible. Call an architect about adding to an apartment or redesigning the bathrooms. If you want to live your life without your children, however, think about trading down to a smaller place.

If you’ve got grown kids, chances are you’re feeling fine and full of vigor now, but will you really want to mow 2 acres of grass and climb stairs in your golden years? Potentially not, in which case, trading in for a more livable community is not a bad idea. You no longer have to worry about the school system or the traffic-free culdesac. Go into looking for your next place with the things that are important to you in mind.

  • Look for a comfortable home, preferably one without stairs or an elevator for the future. Look for a home that has a sunroom or sitting room or bedroom that really appeals to you in either the layout, view, or comfort. If you find a house in a great location with a good price, adding that room to the house can be a relatively simple option.
  • Look for a home that’s part of a community. Many more recent communities stress walking and livability. When you’re retired, you’ll have more time to walk around your neighborhood, so make sure there’s something to walk to. This will help keep you fit and active as you age and can help with your vitality. The community can be a planned community or it can be part of an older downtown, just make sure you have a reason to get out of the house.
  • Look for a home that has the amount of maintenance you want. Low-maintenance finishes on the exterior can be a blessing as your desire to climb ladders and handle power-washers wane. Some communities do all the yard work for you while other homes may not have a yard or exterior to deal with. Think outside the small white house on a quarter acre with a white picket fence. You’re free to try out a loft, condo, apartment, or another home that’s not well planned for families, but might suit your changing needs just fine.

There are a million options, but remember as your kids leave home, you don’t need to be paying for so much space if you’re not going to use it. Cash-out some of the equity to live off of and trade down smaller, or just nicer. Keep in mind, even if your house is paid for, it’s still costing you potentially in heating and cooling bills for rooms you’re not using, extra maintenance costs over a smaller home, and even potentially higher tax bills. Decisions like these should be made with a financial planner and/or an architect’s advice on what is practical, affordable, and in your best interests. If you do opt for a financial planner then look into the best planner for you and your situation. Check out fee only financial planner benefits to see if that could be your number one option. If you really love your home or can’t get enough from selling it to get an equivalent view or be closer to family, then look into an addition or renovation that will get you what you need.