As many couples get older and closer to retirement, they begin to make plans to move to a smaller home in order to cut down on the expenses and physical stress that homeownership inevitably brings. While it’s an excellent idea, it’s sort of like starting a new diet; many people talk about it, but too few actually do it.
There are a myriad of reasons of course, including the fact that moving is an extremely stressful experience no matter what your age happens to be. Also, the memories and emotions that are tied into a home that coiple has lived in for many years can sometimes be overwhelming. For those reasons, and others, many people wait until they are well into their retirement years before actually making the move, if ever.
That, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Tom Lauricella, can be a financially bad idea for a number of reasons, including the significant savings that will be missed by moving to and living in a smaller home.
Some people put off moving because they’re afraid of association and other fees that they might face in their new residence, which can sometimes make it seem as if downsizing to a smaller house might not be worth it. The fact is however that there are so many expenses that come with owning a bigger, older house that it might still be well worth it. Putting on a new roof, landscaping or replacing an old water heater can obviously be quite expensive, expenses that a newer, smaller home won’t have. Even finding an affordable home security system can be difficult with a larger home, just because of the all the additional doors and windows that need to be monitored.
Associate director at the Boston College Center for Retirement Research Steven Sass uses an example of a couple that moved from a $230,000 house to a home that cost $150,000. After fees and moving expenses were taken out, they were left with about $75,000 to add to their retirement savings, money that they could use to generate an additional $3250 every year. With another $3000 a year in savings on home expenses, their total was over $6000 a year more that they had after the move was made but.
Then of course there’s the one subject that most families don’t want to talk about, the simple fact that as parents get older the risk of one of them becoming seriously ill or passing away suddenly gets higher. This can cause an inordinate amount of stress, especially if one of the family members is left caring for either a single, elderly parent or the original family home. Money squabbles can arise from this situation even before the thought of selling the home comes up, something that can place a strain on the relationships of all family members concerned.
So if retirement is looming on the horizon or if you already retired, while downsizing and moving to a new, smaller home might not seem like an extremely pleasant idea the fact is that, at least financially, it is usually a very good idea. Moving and acclimating to a new home might be stressful but usually, within a few months, those stresses subside and the financial benefits kick in..