Retiring? Consider downsizing to a condo
If you're a retiree whose kids have flown the coop, switching from a big ol' family home to a compact condo could feel like a major move. You might be freaking out at the idea of ditching your comfy, roomy digs for something smaller, but don't worry - downsizing can be great. It means less work and upkeep, which frees up more time and money for stuff you enjoy, like hobbies, travel and hanging with your loved ones.
Before jumping ship, there are a few things to consider — location, layout, safety and whether you'll stay well into your golden years. Take all this stuff into account and you'll be able to decide if downsizing to a condo is right for you.
7 things empty nesters must consider
1 - LOCATION
Many empty nesters decide to move into urban areas where anything they’ll want to do is right at their fingertips. Others opt for condos that give off a more private community feel, with many of the amenities they need built right in.
So consider how close you'll be to essential services like shopping, doctor and hospitals, restaurants and entertainment. Having these things nearby can make your life easier, more enjoyable and more convenient, especially if you don't like driving or prefer walking, cycling or using public transportation.
2 - SAFETY
First, check out the neighborhood. Most urban areas publish detailed crime reports, while smaller towns may mainly focus on quality-of-life issues if there's not much crime. Either way, these reports can help you understand the neighborhood's overall vibe and how safe it feels.
Be sure to visit areas you're interested in both night and day. And talk to the locals: they're usually happy to share their experiences and insights.
Once you find a neighborhood you like, look for a building with a secure entrance, well-lit common areas and safety features like fire sprinklers and smoke detectors. In addition, living in a doorman building can provide added safety and security as they can assist you with packages or food delivery, making daily life more convenient.
3 - ACCESS
Accessibility is another crucial factor to consider at retirement. Even if you don't currently have mobility issues, it's something to think about. Our mobility and balance may be compromised as we age, and climbing stairs can become difficult. Living in a single-floor condo can make it easier down the road, as well as an elevator so you can consider units on higher floors.
Other helpful features for boomers and retirees are bathroom grab bars, wider hallways and doorways and other modifications that make it easier to move around the space safely and comfortably. Check if the building has accessibility certifications or features like ramps or motioned triggered doors. You may not need all these bells and whistles now, but by taking the time to consider accessibility, you can enjoy a greater sense of independence and autonomy for many years to come.
4 - LAYOUT
Before condo hunting, take measurements of the furniture and artwork you plan to keep and decide how they'll fit comfortably in the new space without feeling cramped or cluttered. And consider the location of bedrooms and bathrooms and whether they provide the desired level of privacy.
What about storage? Are there enough counters in the kitchen? Ample closet space? Can the living area comfortably accommodate guests? Is there secure storage for your bicycle, or would you need to keep the bike in your unit?
You'll also want to think about natural light. Look for plenty of windows and, if possible, a view. Bonus points for a deck or patio that allows you to get out in the fresh air when you want.
5 - OUTSIDE SPACE
Small, easy-to-maintain outdoor spaces can make transitioning to a condo from a bigger home much easier. Besides providing a sense of connection to nature and the outdoors, it can offer a space for relaxation and low-stress hobbies, like container gardening, which is great for your mental and physical health.
Plus, having an outdoor space can increase the value of a condo and make it more attractive to potential buyers if you decide to sell the property in the future.
6 - COMMON SPACES
When it comes to downsizing, prioritize your social needs and preferences. For example, if you enjoy having friends over but think a condo may be too small, ask about event spaces. Some condo buildings have unique entertainment rooms complete with full kitchens, a dining area, pool tables and a media center.
Older condominium complexes typically have common courtyards and gardens, but many newer ones offer amenities like tennis courts, clubhouses, shared libraries, fitness centers and even pools. Even an on-site laundry, dog run or resident's association can be great places to meet the neighbors and stay involved in the community.
7 - AFFORDABILITY
Moving to a smaller place can save you money on living expenses, especially since there are just two of you now. But, before going all-in on downsizing, make sure that the condo is within your budget, especially if you expect your income to plateau or decrease in the coming years. In addition to the condo's purchase price, there are recurring costs such as HOA fees, property taxes and utilities.
Just remember to think about the costs and weigh them against the potential savings before deciding. Work with a Movement Mortgage loan officer near you to determine what you can afford based on your ongoing financial situation.
Downsizing doesn't mean downgrading.
By letting go of the things that no longer serve you and carefully considering your needs and priorities, you can find a new home that fits your new empty nest lifestyle and budget. Look at it this way, when moving to a smaller home, it can feel cozy, like having a pair of jeans that fit just right—no wasted living space and no feelings of having too much room.
So, here's to a long, happy, healthy downsizing and retirement in your somewhat smaller nest — a condo!