There’s no denying that tastes in housing have changed in the past decade. The same young professionals who bought rambling suburban homes when they started families in the 80s are contemplating retirement, and often want something totally different for their next place to live. Forbes explains that “Boomers buying for the long haul are looking for good access to transit, medical care and recreation; for high-speed Internet access and security systems; and for energy-efficient appliances.”
That’s often very different, and more urban-oriented, than their needs to be near work, in a good school district, or to have plenty of room for the family during their professional years. This is part of the reason so many retirees contemplate downsizing. It gives them some financial gains, fewer maintenance demands, and the opportunity to live somewhere in line with their new lifestyle needs.
If you are considering downsizing as part of your retirement plan, there’s a few things you can do to make it an easy process. For one, it helps to know where you will be downsizing to. Talk to your financial planners and take a look at your accounts—you might be surprised at what options net the biggest gains. Retirement communities can actually be less expensive when you look at the overall cost of your current home, including utilities, gas to commute to the things you like to do, groceries, and more. By deciding first where you will be living, you can then see how much space you will have to work with and what your actual needs will be. For example, if you’re moving to an apartment, townhome, or condo, you may not need the extra large gas grill or the leaf blower in your garage.
In fact, rooms like the garage can be a great place to begin downsizing. Attics, basements, and garages can accumulate a lot of junk over the years that you simply won’t need at your new home. Take old paint cans, oil, light bulbs, and other maintenance leftovers to hazardous materials recycling—your city website can tell you where the drop off for these items is. Then you can move on to things you rarely use—untouched clothes that no longer fit in the back of your closet, children’s games and clothes you no longer need, or extra dishes and kitchen things.
When you’re left with the things you use frequently or are deeply sentimental, you know you are well prepared to downsize! Think of how pleasant life will be when you are surrounded only with your favorite things in a home that’s perfectly suited to your new lifestyle and day to day activities! Get closer to friends, family, and all the fun outings you enjoy while shedding the stress and cost of so many belongings.
As wonderful as it is to be happily settled in a home you love, part of what makes your golden years so golden is the chance to see and do new things and get together with friends and family you care for. You’ll appreciate the convenience and community of your retirement facility even more after breaking your routine and cutting loose on a cruise, a train trip to a niece’s graduation, or simply visiting a new state for a change of scenery. We have some travel planning pointers that will help you have the best time possible:
· The older we get, the more easily our immune systems are stressed. If you are flying, be sure to stay hydrated to help avoid a travel cold. You can also take a decongestant or chew gum to keep your ears from hurting as the altitude changes. Before travel, take vitamins and eat extra vegetables and fruits to help your immune system amp up for the extra stress.
· Call your bank ahead of time to be sure they know where you are traveling. It would be very frustrating to arrive only to have your credit and debit cards shut down for suspicious activity!
· Plan around your limits. Just because you have health or mobility issues, or simply don’t have as much energy as you did in your 20s, doesn’t mean you can’t travel and have a great time. Plan your itinerary around when you have the most energy, or if you know one day will be strenuous, try to make the next luxurious and relaxing.
· Make special arrangements as far ahead of time as possible. The more information you have on travel days the better. For example, it would be nice to know in advance how the stewardesses on your airline will store your cane or walker. Some medical items like oxygen need to be approved or verified with official notice from your physician. Best to not let these details wait until the last minute.
· Purchase luggage of a size and design you are comfortable handling. There have been many new styles in the past several years, including some with multiple wheels on the bottom than can roll from any direction at the touch of a finger. Nothing simplifies travel like luggage you can handle yourself without strain.
Don’t forget one of the very best parts of travel—getting to come home! When you’ve had a wonderful time with friends and family, or even on your own, it can be lovely to come back to a place equally as welcoming, with many friendly faces. It’s not discussed as often, but homecoming is a great perk of the retirement community life.