In many situations, people downsize because they need to downsize for one reason or another: death of a spouse, divorce and relocate, their own or their spouse’s illness or injury, a corporate relocation, loss of a job or other unforeseen circumstances.
But in some situations, such as to enjoy retirement at the beach or to fulfill a lifelong dream to live on a riverbank or near the mountains, people choose to downsize. When people downsize by choice, they often have more options to consider than they would like.
“I wish it was easier to decide!”
For many people who enjoy financial security, deciding where to move is a fun exercise. They can take their time considering options and visiting various places for long weekends to do their “due diligence.” Some even have the luxury of downsizing from one large home into two small places – perhaps a small home in a neighborhood close to loves ones and the other a condo near their favorite family vacation spot.
For those who want to relocate and reinvent themselves without spending a lot of money, they’ll need to consider affordability as one of their first decision points.
Regardless of budget, when deciding where to relocate, different people take different characteristics into consideration. According to a New York Times article about factors considered by people thinking about retirement, “Common criteria include the cost of living, the tax burden, the quality of health care, weather, crime, cultural vitality and the prevalence of older citizens.” Younger generations also consider access to schools, parks, bike trails, airports, public transportation and vacation destinations.
List after list.
There’s no shortage of lists of best places to live, raise a family, retire, start over, make friends, etc. The photos in articles that describe the “best” communities all look appealing, of course, but it’s typically a deeply personal decision for most people who choose to relocate: is it close to family, does it offer the amenities most important to what people are looking for (such as access to public transportation, proximity to an airport, climate, affordability), and what types of communities within the community are suitable for them?
If you’re a “people person,” consider so-called friendly cities.
Considering a move can be daunting, especially for people who are not skilled at making friends or building social and business networks. When children leave home, empty-nesters often embrace the idea of reinventing themselves in a new area; it’s energizing and soul-enriching to hit the “reset” button. Travel + Leisure provides a few interesting facts and figures about the friendliest cities in the U.S. If it doesn’t provide enough motivation and inspiration to downsize, the list will at the very least provide ideas about where to go spend a few fun days (or weeks). A change of pace – and place – is always fun!
Friendliest and best places to meet people 55+
For people nearing retirement (generally the 55+ crowd), they may want to consider what AARP has deemed the friendliest cities for meeting people. Factored into their equation for “friendliest cities” is the prevalence of people in that same age group.
|Large (Population 500K+)
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Rapid City, S.D.
West Fargo, N.D.
South Portland, Maine
For the adventuresome and those who just need a change, downsize – then relocate and reinvent.
It can be an exciting proposition to downsize and relocate, particularly if the schedule is flexible and there’s enough budget to cover a few months of overlapping mortgage or rent payments.
One important consideration in deciding when to make the move is timing the sale of the current home. It’s much easier to pick up and move if it’s from one rental to another. But if there’s a home that needs to be sold to enable the downsizing and relocation process to begin, consider the “sooner rather than later” rule. (“Do it before you think you need to, because once you think you need to, it may be too late.”) With the sellers’ market in mid-2017 showing few signs of abating, downsizers need to make some decisions (e.g., list the house for sale NOW to get top dollar), then start the decluttering process; conduct research and come up with the Top 3 cities to consider; plan a few 3-day weekends to explore; and envision the enlightened, energized state-of-mind that can happen only after downsizing!