It’s Time to Go Small If You Want to Live Big in Retirement
Guest Article Written by Michael Longsdon
There’s so much free time now that your career’s come to a close and the kids have left to start their own lives elsewhere. From traveling and reading to long walks on the beach, you’ve got an endless to-do list that’s packed with nothing but pleasure and fulfillment -- other than cleaning, mowing the lawn, and keeping an eye on finances so there’s enough money to pay for that dream vacation you’ve always wanted to take.
You know what would make your days easier: downsizing. The only thing holding you back is the difficulty. After all, you’re selling the home where you raised the little ones and heading off to someplace completely new. Don’t worry, though, as downsizing is a positive experience if you do it right.
Here are some suggestions to help you begin the process:
Choose the Right Region
You’re probably looking for weather right in the Goldilocks zone: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. For many, that means Florida or Arizona, but the cost of living and taxes should also come into consideration. After all, you want to get the most out of your income, which makes South Dakota, Utah, and Idaho appealing destinations despite their frigid winters. South Carolina is also generating interest among retirees, and properties in Columbia sold for an average of just $130,000 last month. Make a list of your priorities to narrow down your search.
Set a Realistic Budget
According to a writer with MarketWatch, housing is the biggest expense for people in their golden years. So, get a good grasp on your income via savings, investments, and part-time jobs before you settle on a specific house or even a locale. Some experts suggest living like a retiree for a time to calculate costs more effectively. You may want to find a cheaper neighborhood to save money for fun things like fancy meals, bottles of wine, or a trip to New Orleans.
Find the House for You
Once you’ve narrowed your choices, it’s time to take look at specific properties, and even more factors come into play such as proximity to amenities like shopping and parks. With a few quick online searches, you’ll get an idea of prices for homes with the right amount of space before you begin paying visits. Bear in mind, however, that realtors normally show off around eight to 10 options before buyers make an offer, so there’s no need to rush.
This proves difficult for many, as it’s not easy to part with objects that have a lifetime of sentimental value. It must be done, however, as the new property is smaller, and shipping everything there is a daunting — and expensive — task. One moving specialist speaking to the New York Times says, “Either use, love it — or leave it.” Give yourself a few months to ponder each item you own and decide whether to keep it or make a donation to charity.
Organize Your Packing
Start off by getting some boxes in various sizes from home improvement stores or local retail businesses, the latter of which may give you what you need for free, says a researcher with Consumer Affairs. Don’t forget to score some bubble wrap or newspapers for protecting fragile items, along with a marker for labeling each load so you know where it goes when the moving truck arrives. Among a host of other tips, stay organized by doing it room by room.
Make Some Changes
Prior to decorating the new place, have a look around to see if there are any repairs or modifications that need to be done before the furniture and appliances take their permanent places. These normally include a thorough cleaning and paint job, while changing exterior locks comes highly recommended for security reasons (the cost of changing your locks ranges from $30 - $300). Also, have the heating and cooling systems cleaned and serviced to avoid any costly malfunctions in the future.
Once you’re settled in, you can begin enjoying your golden years in style with plenty of savings left from the sale of your old home and fewer responsibilities in a smaller dwelling.
For more tips on downsizing or for help with any of the steps that Michael mentioned above, contact The Boland Team at 803.351.0740