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Rightsizing: Helping Seniors Downsize to the Perfect Place

Rightsizing your lifestyle

During the glorious time of life that is retirement, downsizing is the trend homeowners are turning to. The market is perfect right now for cashing in on the family home you’ve been living in. With real estate booming, selling a home can make all the difference to your lifestyle.

Finding a new, smaller space to move into is another step in that game too. You want something manageable, affordable, but most importantly, comfortable. Here’s what you should consider to ‘rightsize’ your retirement.

1. Size

Think about how much space you need. Not how much you’d like, how much you actually need. Ask yourself:

  • What is too much to manage?
  • What would limit our daily life?
  • What would limit our social life?
  • What would limit our essential items and possessions?

This helps to narrow down numbers pretty quickly. In turn, that final outline of how much space you need will narrow down if you’re looking for a condo, bungalow, retirement community or something else.

2. Entertaining

An active social life is the key to staying young. Making sure you’re close to family, friends and social activities is a big factor in ‘house hunting’.

Start from the actual dwelling and work your way out to the neighbourhood. I always emphasize the kitchen: it’s where all the social action happens.

Open concept floor plans are making entertaining in smaller spaces easier. With an open, well-laid out kitchen/dining area, you can still host friends and family without paying for unnecessary square footage.

Alternatively, most condominiums and retirement communities have party rooms, patios and kitchens that are shared spaces. If your actual pad isn’t big enough for company, condo amenities can work in your favour!

3. Accessibility

Barrier-free or accessible homes are huge right now. With an influx of baby boomers reaching retirement, it’s a real estate priority. Regardless of your age, it’s a great idea to reduce hazards in your home.

For downsizing seniors, finding a home with accessible features is a fantastic way to keep you living independently longer. Here are some great ideas and things to consider:

  • Open concept layout
  • Single level floor plan
  • Main floor bedrooms
  • Bathroom wall support handle
  • Curb-less shower
  • Cabinet storage hacks like hydraulic shelves

These aren’t must-haves when looking for a smaller space, as everyone’s situation is different. However, keep accessibility in mind. Is the place what you would consider safe for current and future needs? If not, how much would it take to get it there

4. Neighbourhood/Amenities 

I mentioned starting from the actual home and working out to the neighbourhood before. Let’s talk about the lifestyle your location should get you. Being close to shops and grocery stores is a plus for any homeowner, but it’s especially important for retirees.

Once again, consider your individual needs:

  • Do you own a car? Do you drive?
  • How active are you? Can you handle significant walking/exercise?
  • What are your favourite hobbies?
  • Where do your friends and family live?
  • Do you have regular appointments or commitments outside the home?

All these questions can help you decide just how close you should be to amenities and other elements, like stores and doctor’s offices.

Don’t underestimate how beneficial it can be to live near retirement-oriented communities and activities, too. Having others around you to share the fun with and maintain an active social life really does keep you young!

When looking for the perfect neighbourhood, the ideal goals are:

  • Staying close to friends and/or family
  • Having access to a community offering hobbies and social activities
  • Being close to shops, stores, doctor’s offices, etc.
  • Proximity to amenities specific to your needs

5. Finances

This is an obvious but important factor. You really do need to keep your financial means in mind. It’s easy to get distracted by the (seriously unbelievable) modern amenities available in condos and communities these days, but what do you really need.

Retirement calls for a smart and detailed look into your finances. What can you afford and what is the cost of living (what you would consider) ‘comfortably’? Sometimes this might mean compromising on some ‘wants’ to get all the ‘needs’.

Work closely with a realtor, as we have all the ‘ins’ and tricks to finding you places that cross off your checklist.

6. Organization

Downsizing goes beyond the real estate element. After a lifetime of working hard to build your assets and maintain properties, don’t let it go to waste by mishandling the paperwork.

Retirees, especially, should be on top of major legal documents like:

  • Living Will
  • Power of Attorney
  • Leases and Invoices
  • Mortgage Payments
  • Medical Records
  • Investment Portfolio
  • RRSPs, GICs, TFSAs

Having these documents on hand (ideally within your home) is very important. Retirement is the culmination of all your asset management, so those pieces of paper will be coming out more often than they used to.

It’s more than just your assets though, you likely have a lifetime of valuable possessions too. While downsizing does require letting some things go, there are other things that are never to be parted with.

When looking for a new, smaller space, consider your storage options. Most condos will include a separate storage locker for every unit.

Some of these considerations might seem obvious, but they are the most important things to keep in mind so you can downsize right. Above all, your realtor is the greatest asset at your disposal. Use us!

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