Have the kids moved out and you’ve found your house is now too big for you? Do you and your significant other find yourself wandering aimlessly through empty, quiet rooms? If so, perhaps it’s time to consider downsizing—or what I call “rightsizing.”
Or maybe you’re thinking, “No way!” The reasons you might have to keep the house you have could involve nostalgia, security, or even pride over the accomplishment of purchasing it. Or perhaps the thought of the work involved with clearing out decades worth of family life has you stalling. And what will happen when all of the family (thinking ahead to grandchildren) want to get together for holidays? That would never work if you were in a smaller place. Would it?
But on the flip side, there are many good and valid reasons to start planning for a smaller home. First, your expenses will be much lower. Your property taxes and utility bills will be reduced, and the maintenance costs and mortgage payments on a smaller place are sure to be significantly lower. Having a home that is larger than what you need ties up quite a bit of capital. Think of the ways you can more effectively use that money. Whether it be for travel, the college expenses of your children, debt reduction, or putting extra funds towards retirement, in your current situation those surplus funds are tied up and not available.
Second, think of the time you will save when you won’t have to clean, furnish, and maintain space that is no longer being used. Outside maintenance will also be reduced with a smaller place, and it could be completely done away with if you move into a condo or a community where you pay a fee to have those jobs handled. With that extra time, you’ll be able to do a myriad of things: volunteer, start a side hustle, meet with friends, or even take time to give more serious thought to how you want to design your retirement years.
Start the Purging Process
Of course, the act of rightsizing your living situation initially takes time and effort. I suggest you start with one room at a time and consider the following recommendations.
- Clean out surplus items and things that have been in drawers since the beginning of time.
- Have the kids take what they want and either sell, donate, or dispose of the rest.
- Keep only what you really want or need, and what will fit into a smaller place.
- When in doubt, you can always rent a small storage unit for items you’re not ready to get rid of. If you visit the unit again after a year and have not touched or missed those things, reassess whether they are worth keeping.
- And don’t forget many family artifacts, photographs in particular, can now be digitized and kept forever on a very small thumb drive. This also makes it easy to share with other family members.
Break the Process into Bite-Size Pieces
Even though the project of right-sizing looks huge, take it one step at a time. When you move to a smaller place that’s the right size for you, you’ll be glad you made the decision. As for those large family get-togethers, rent an Airbnb close by that’s big enough for everyone. The cost to do that once a year or so will more than enough be made up by your many lower housing expenses.
Get some boxes and take steps today to start rightsizing to match your empty nest life. You might be surprised how cathartic the process can be.
You’ve Got This!
Once you get settled in a smaller place, you won’t look back. You’ll be too busy looking forward to a new lifestyle with more money and more time.
Note from the editor for my fellow grammar nerds – Rightsize is a word that has been used in business for a long time and is now being used to describe other situations. Dictionary.com defines it as “to adjust to an appropriate size.”