Downsize or Not? 5 Key Ideas for Redefining Your Empty Nest

Is it Time for a New Empty Nest?

cottages on the beach at sunset

Once your young adults have moved out of your home and are on their own, you may find that what was once just an empty nest is now a home that no longer suits your needs. Whether it's because your home is too large, or you have grown tired of trudging up and down stairs, or your suburban neighborhood suddenly seems woefully lacking in entertainment and decent restaurants, you may begin to consider moving to a new - and possibly smaller - place to live.

Here are facts to consider regarding downsizing.

First things first: Be honest about your finances. The greatest benefit to downsizing is often a reduction of debt and financial obligations. Moving from a large home to a smaller home or condominium will reduce many expenses - though remember to leave room for condo fees in your planning. Another option is to forgo home ownership altogether and become a renter, eliminating any maintenance costs - and property taxes. 

It's a good idea to move before you have to. Whether for financial, health or other reasons, moving because you have no choice is never a good experience, but can be especially difficult as we age. Leaving a large home for a smaller, more manageable one - both size-wise and financially - can free up time, money and energy for more interesting activities. 

Live the lifestyle you choose. While raising our children, our first consideration as parents is, more often than not, how our lifestyle will impact our children's lives.

Once our children are grown, it's time for us to consider what it is we prioritize to make our lives the best they can be for our needs and interests. Whether you've longed to live in the country or in the middle of a city, you can make the decision to downsize to a home  based on your needs, not the needs of your children.

This will open up a wide range of possibilities in living situations.

Consider what matters in you life. What's most important to you? Do you want a place where you can walk to a restaurant in a few minutes? Do you want a close-knit community to become involved in? Do you want to have easy access to airports and trains? Don't be swayed by what others choose to do with their lives - make this decision based on your very personal desires. Not everyone wants to have neighbors right outside their front door, and not everyone likes to travel all the time. 

Plan with family in mind...within reason. Take into consideration what you hope to do and how you plan to spend your time as you age, but don't plan around what you hope others will do. For example, you may be hesitant to sell your large family home with the concern that you will someday need more room for grandchildren. While this is a hope of most parents, it's not something anyone should plan their lives around. Young adults are marrying later and later, and putting off having children, too. 

Also, children may not like the idea of you selling the family home, especially if they spent their entire childhood growing up within its walls.

Sentimentality and nostalgia are fine, and you can reminisce all you like in days to come, but having a substantial nest egg and a smaller mortgage payment are worth the temporarily disappointed looks on your children's faces. They have taken off and begun their lives without you - you need to do the same. These could be the best years ever!