The kids are gone, you’re retired, and you’re finally taking advantage of those senior deals around town. Being a senior has never been better!

There’s just one looming question: What are you going to do with that huge house you own?

Why Seniors Often Downsize

When you first bought your current home, your priorities were very different. You had a family to house, and you were looking for a good financial investment. Many times, that means buying a large house with plenty of rooms and multiple floors. Once your kids move out, you could easily have too much house. Not only do you not need all that space now, paying for heating, AC, and property taxes could really sink your budget. Then there are health and mobility concerns. For many seniors, moving into a new home and downsizing at this point in their life can make a lot of sense.

Finding Your New Home

But how do you go about doing that? While working with a professional real estate agent will definitely be helpful, there are a few things you need to look for in a new home.

Many times, a ranch-style home with no stairs can really improve your quality of life. Imagine never having to worry about climbing or going down that stairwell again! You should also check that your new home is well-lit, has no-step entry, and has doorways wide enough to let through a walker or wheelchair. Even if your mobility is just fine now, things could change over the years.  

As you look at prospects, keep in mind what changes you would like to make as well. Transforming one entryway and one bathroom can give you many advantages in your golden years. You should take those renovations into consideration as you prepare your budget. There are also smaller changes that go along with any new home purchase, like changing the locks. That’s one you’ll want to do right away; Angi says to expect it to cost between $50 and $150 to rekey a door.

Paying for Your New Home

Many seniors already own their homes. That can make a huge difference when it comes to buying that new house, and you may be able to sell your old home and use that money to buy a smaller home. Consider local real estate prices as you formulate your budget and prioritize your search.

If you do need a loan, here are some loans that are available to seniors:

  • Reverse mortgages
  • HECMs (a reverse mortgage regulated by the government for better rates)
  • VA loans (if you are a veteran)
  • Home equity lines of credit (HELOC)

If you still have a mortgage, you may be able to refinance it to lower your monthly mortgage payment, and take advantage of historically low interest rates!

Making the Big Move

Moving to a new home is never easy, but this gets a bit trickier when you’re older. You’re not the young, fit person you used to be. If you’re lifting heavy furniture, carrying awkwardly sized boxes, and spending hours moving things from house to truck to house again, you could get injured.  

The Senior List notes one of the best things you can do is to ask for help. This can be tough if you’re used to doing things on your own, especially when the people you’re asking are your kids. Your best option is hiring movers for the job. Be sure to read reviews on moving companies and to get an idea of how much it will cost.

You can also make the move easier by creating a plan, making sure your important photos and mementos are kept in a clearly marked box, and getting rid of some of the clutter you accumulated by living for so long in one home. This can be emotionally and physically challenging for many seniors; reach out to a family member or friend to lend a hand with this part of the process. If you need to hire help organizing your belongings, a home organizer typically runs between $30 and $80 an hour.

Seniors may have to take a few extra precautions, but they can still find, buy, and move into a new house just as well as anyone. By sticking with a home that fits your needs, picking the right mortgage, and getting help on moving day, you and your spouse can be in just the right home for you two.

Amy Collett

Amy Collett