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When Is It Time to Downsize Your Home? Maybe Earlier Than You Think

Downsizing Tips: 10 Steps to Ease the Move to a Smaller Home

Aging in place was once the American dream. And according to AARP, 90 percent of older adults would still choose to remain in their home rather than downsizing. But with people living longer than ever before, remaining at home isn’t always an option. Luckily, there is more than one way to age in place – and more than one definition of “living the dream.”

senior couple in front of big house

Maybe you don’t need that big house anymore.

Sometimes that dream does include downsizing your home. With almost 109 million Americans age 50 and over today, you’ll find a lot of different ideas about living out those golden years, but it doesn’t always end up the way you planned.

In fact, baby boomers might recognize John Lennon’s lyrics, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Which is why what you imagine for yourself at 50 or 65 or 80 could easily change. Many seniors end up downsizing their home after all – and liking it.

Reasons for Downsizing Your Home

senior couple on balcony

Maybe you want to trade that yard for a balcony.

There are a lot of reasons for downsizing. One is simply that age-old empty-nest syndrome. The kids have moved out and you suddenly realize you just don’t need so much space. A house that was perfect for raising a family now seems like a lot to clean and a lot to heat. And it has a basement chock full of things you’ve spent a lifetime collecting – and probably don’t need.

That’s when downsizing your home sounds pretty good. Senior communities, including senior apartments and 55+ housing developments, are plentiful – and nice – these days. There are roomy apartments and condos with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a den. They provide plenty of space for a couple and even occasional guests.

If you just need a place for one, a large one-bedroom apartment or condo should do the trick. And if your goal is downsizing affordably, a cozy 500-square-foot studio apartment in a senior complex may be all you need. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of your time in the dining room, fitness room or community room with your new friends anyway!

What’s the Best Age for Downsizing Your Home?

64 birthday cards
While these communities are usually open to anyone over 55, a study out of the UK suggests that 64 is the perfect age to downsize. Why? Respondents say they still feel young enough to make a move. They’re generally mentally and physically fit enough to do it on their own. Moving as relatively young seniors has many benefits for the “movers” and their families.

Some reasons for downsizing your home early:

  • Sorting and tossing today means the kids will have less to worry about later. Your kids will thank you. Neither they nor even their kids want all the stuff you’ve collected.
  • You can enjoy the freedom that comes with no mowing grass, shoveling snow, or cleaning a large home.
  • Electricity and heating bills are cheaper.
  • Downsizing gives you the opportunity to travel – with senior discounts! – without worrying about leaving your house empty for long periods of time.

When another Beatle, Paul McCartney, wrote the song, “When I’m 64,” do you think he realized what a perfect age that would turn out to be?

Health Reasons for Downsizing Your Home

older man with cane walking down stairs

Maybe you don’t want to navigate those stairs anymore.

Of course, some seniors may consider 64 far too young to give up the old homestead. After all, you’re as young as you feel, right? So, years may pass before the idea of downsizing your home ever comes up.

The most common reason to make a move at that point is declining physical health. Maybe arthritis or poor balance means you can no longer navigate stairs or do your own cleaning, raising fears of falls. You might have a heart problem, so your kids worry about your being alone at night. If you can no longer drive, living alone can make it difficult to get to the grocery store or doctor’s appointments. In this case, you might consider independent living or assisted living.

And even those in good physical health may face the possibility of declining mental health as they age – from mild forgetfulness to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. That may lead to skipping meals or medicines, or even wandering. In this case, you might look into memory care.

Whatever the reason, downsizing can be the right move for these seniors as well. Senior living offers them a low-maintenance lifestyle but with the option of aides or services if needed – allowing them to age in place, too.

Ultimately, downsizing your home means independence, freedom from housework – and all the amenities you could want. Now that’s living the dream.

Downsizing Tips: 10 Steps to Ease the Move to a Smaller Home

What do you think? Have you downsized your home? What were the good and bad points? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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  • Sue Sveum

    About :

    After helping her own parents as they aged, Sue began working with other seniors, and now shares what she learned in her blogs for seniors and their families. She currently writes about seniors and healthcare for several websites but her past includes diverse topics ranging from dogs to weddings to ghosts. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and Golden retriever, Wrigley.


    1. Carlos Mendez, BFA, MA says:

      Loved your article about downsizing! To the point and insightful. Cheers.

    2. Carolina arceneaux says:

      Looking for senior apartmentin Houston

    3. lorraine karmonocky says:

      I would like to be put on your email list as I am now in the process of downsizing for the second time to an apartment for 3. My husband and I are in our upper 70s and have health problems and we have a mild handicap daughter age 45 plus a small dog. Our doctor advised us to be near family now so we are going to move back to Raleign/Durham, NC. Would love to move to a 55+ apartment if possible. In Florida where we live now we were told they would not accept my daughter with us.

    4. Elena Stefano says:

      Good morning Sue, I enjoyed your article and would love to be put on your email list, if not I would really like to have your website address. What are the books you have written and their names? Thank you so very much for all of your information as I feel that it will truly benefit me in the near future. Elena

      • Hi Elena. I’m glad you liked the article and found it helpful. You can find a lot of additional information about apartments and senior living at You can reach me through my website (there’s no www). And Google my name on and some of the book titles I’ve worked on will pop up! Thanks.

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