Downsized Home Interior
Skip to main content

Downsizing Your Home in Preparation for Retirement

It may not be as straightforward as it appears.

The challenges of downsizing.

Take it from me. Downsizing can be far more challenging than one would think.

Boomers have come to the realization they no longer need or want a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom house for just one or two people. After all, who needs all of that cleaning and maintenance? It’s time to find something smaller and spend more time enjoying leisure pursuits.

The concept sounds simple enough – but, is it?

  1. There is the matter of getting your present home onto the market and the purchase of a smaller residence. Which is the more prudent decision – sell or buy first?
  2. Then the question of where will you ultimately settle? In the same or a nearby neighbourhood? In a purpose-built development for mature individuals? Another community entirely? Or even possibly outside of the country?
  3. Once finding more manageable living space, editing your belongings to fit into that space is no simple task.

Are you ready for some big changes?

Woman in front of a large bookshelf downsizing her home.

This change is more than just a real estate transaction – emotions play a huge part. Common sense dictates downsizing is financially sound, but it’s difficult to let go of the home, the backdrop, of so many memories. Establishing if you are emotionally ready to downscale should play prominently in your decision. Take a moment and imagine your home becoming the setting for new memories for yet another family. Did you smile?

Local market conditions generally determine if the wise option is to first sell or buy; however, if your move is to a more far flung geographic location, the market could be remarkably different. Base your choice on which you believe will achieve the most favourable result in relation to your circumstances and risk tolerance.

Does the neighbourhood you’re considering accommodate your retirement goals?

Cluttered kitchenware, a challenge of downsizing.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

General consensus says:

  • Sell.
  • Put some cash into the bank.
  • Downsize.

But … into what and where?  Most available properties are family sized homes. There seems little in the GTA for the not-ready-for-assisted-living-group that is not either extremely small, or if a comfortable size, more costly than your current home’s worth because of the location.

There are so many decisions to make in terms of locality and the type of home that will work best for your retirement lifestyle.

Downsizers are looking outside of the GTA in the belief that moving away from the area should give rise to a comfortable living and a healthy nest egg. The traditional destinations around the Golden Horseshoe are seeing a surge of GTA expats buying up property, resulting in ever-rising prices. There are spots further to the west and southwest, but even these well kept secrets are becoming “discovered”.

Others dream of a relaxing retirement in cottage country – and there are still affordable properties, provided you like more secluded locations or don’t require your home to be on a river or lake.  Retirement condominiums, lakeside and otherwise, are appearing in many of the traditional vacation areas and surrounding small towns.

You may prefer to stay in your current neighbourhood close to family and friends and the amenities and services you now enjoy. In the Oakville/Burlington market, choices range from small one bedroom boutique or highrise units, to both freehold and condo townhouses, redeveloped homes in transitioning areas and of course downtown condominium properties with lake views.

If you don’t want to take on a project, but would like to enjoy a little gardening, a beautifully updated bungalow might be a good option, and snowbirds may prefer a no maintenance building with security.

Editing your possessions can be both daunting and stressful.

Happy teddy bear is an important possession.
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

What to do with your stuff?  Chances are your new home may be half the size of your current one, or even smaller. The process can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to break the job down into manageable steps.

How do you get started?

Walk through your house and select a maximum of five items of furniture that you absolutely must have and can’t do without. Be objective. Be honest with yourself. You may be surprised as to how few of your belongings you really need, or for that matter, want to keep. Perhaps you would like to buy furniture appropriately scaled to your new surroundings. There is an entire home furnishings industry devoted to clever furniture pieces that perform double-duty in their function.

I’m not suggesting you leave Grandma’s china, or your daughter’s first stuffed toy behind, but it may be a good time for a garage sale. We don’t actually need all of that stuff – we’re just accustomed to it being around. Any decluttering project begins with the sorting of your belongings, room by room, into four groups. Think of it as the four major compass points.

  • North is for everything you will be keeping.
  • South is for the treasures your family and friends will be thrilled to be gifted.
  • East and west are for articles to be donated to a worthwhile charity, or recycled/tossed because they’re not in good enough repair to donate.

You may actually find the whole process quite liberating. (I also trust you noticed the 3:1 ratio).

Yes – downsizing and retirement have their challenges. I hope you choose to look at it as a fresh and exciting chapter of your life and find the process not stressful, but rather, an enjoyable new adventure.

Top Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash
Cheryl Tym, Sales Representative, REMAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage
Cheryl Tym
REALTOR®, RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage

A full time REALTOR® dedicated to providing the best possible service and outcome for clients and their families. International sales, marketing and negotiating skills were part of the daily routine while living and working overseas as Director of Operations for an international hospitality marketing firm. A graduate of Sheridan’s Interior Design Program, and recipient of the Professionalism Award, my artistry and knowledge will highlight the very best features of your property, inside and out.

Is A Basement Apartment Rental A Good Investment?
Is A Basement Apartment Rental A Good Investment?
Creating an accessory apartment comes with both advantages and disadvantages.
August 3, 2023
Read more
It's A Fast Changing 2022 Real Estate Market
It's A Fast Changing 2022 Real Estate Market
Steps to make your home sale stand out when it's no longer a "Sellers" real estate market.
June 16, 2022
Read more
Avoid The Regrets Associated With Downsizing To A Smaller Home
Avoid The Regrets Associated With Downsizing To A Smaller Home
Practical tips, solutions, and steps to take before you make the move.
January 21, 2022
Read more
Are you in search of your dream home?
Are you in search of your dream home?
Whatever your stage in life, there are important constants to keep in mind when house hunting.
October 30, 2021
Read more
The High-in-the-Sky Condo Lifestyle
The High-in-the-Sky Condo Lifestyle
The good and bad of living in a condominium from Oakville and Burlington to Hamilton.
May 9, 2021
Read more
Perfecting Home Office Space on Any Budget
Perfecting Home Office Space on Any Budget
Solutions that are both practical and stylish.
September 18, 2020
Read more
When is the Best Time to Sell Your Home?
When is the Best Time to Sell Your Home?
Understanding the real estate market in 2020/21.
October 20, 2019
Read more
Economical Renovations to Update & Sell Your Home
Economical Renovations to Update & Sell Your Home
Simple make-over techniques and suggestions to increase your home's value.
October 20, 2019
Read more
Lighting Your Home
Lighting Your Home
Evaluating the best decorative and functional lighting solutions for any room in the house.
October 20, 2019
Read more
Close Contact Overlay
Remax Logo
CHERYL TYM, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage
Independently Owned and Operated
A-309 Lakeshore Road East
Oakville, Ontario, L6J 1J3
Close Contact Overlay
Let's Connect

Put my expert market knowledge and international negotiation skills to work and get the best price for your home.

Request a Call
Message Sent.

Thank you – I'll connect within 1 business day.