'Tis the holiday season (Yes, I start mine at Halloween) which for me brings about thoughts of my parents (and tiny candy bars!). Not only because we always had really great holidays as a family, but they're way down in the sunshine state so it inevitably means travel. You may recall I spent last summer down there helping out mom with her shiny new hip. This fall, my brother and I are coordinating to either fly them up or fly us down. Either way it will be great to see them and celebrate (one of) the holidays together.
I'm realizing now that the above paragraph could lead us into a bevy of different directions. Since I have not finished my coffee yet this morning, we'll take the direction I planned on when I first put the proverbial pen to paper. We're going to talk about your parents' (or your) need for all that space in your home. My roommate and I share about 3,000 square feet (I know, it's ridiculous). The beauty of that space is we can (and often do) have guests over and it does not really impact anyone's space or movement around said space. We just had two friends from Alaska stop by for three days. They each had their own bedroom (for all of their stuff) and spent most of their time visiting other friends. It was great, but like fish, it was time for them to go after three days!
I got sidetracked there, but the point is, there comes a time in (likely) all of our lives where we have too much space. Just like deciding between hazelnut and french vanilla coffee this morning (I went with vanilla!) it is a challenge to decide when it is time to downsize or rightsize. Let's look at a couple factors that might help you decide.
The first and most obvious factor for making your decision is the number of unused rooms you have. We currently only have one really unused room (until last week!) and it still gets used every couple of weeks for my roommate's girlfriend's workspace. I'm currently using the other guest bedroom as my office. The reality is though, if those spaces are vacant for the majority of the year, it's silly to keep heating, cooling, and cleaning them. We also have a finished basement (that's where I reside) half of which is the TV/living room. If you're only using one floor of your home (pretty common as we age) then that's another indication it's time to get on one floor.
My dad loves to "putter." He will spend countless hours trimming bushes, removing dead fronds from the palm trees, and his new favorite: power washing his brick pavers. There will come a time (hopefully in the very distant future) that he'll no longer be able to (or want to) do that stuff. I love mowing the lawn, but if (when) I tweak my back, I can't do it. During those times, I just want some neighborhood kid to come by and offer to handle it for 20 bucks. If you're looking around your home and property and see nothing but work and hassle, it's time to move on. You shouldn't feel like you're being held hostage by your yard work.
Circling back to our basement, aging in place is pretty common now and your home simply may not be well suited. My brother has his father-in-law staying with them now and he's a couple hundred years old (OK, he's 92). While they have a full basement with a spare bedroom and full bathroom, he can't stay down there because of the stairs. In our first house as a family, we had a cape with a full basement. I can't imagine being in my 90s and having to manage three stories of a home. "While you don't necessarily have to get fully ADA compliant, widening doorways and removing any stairs are both great ideas for making a home more suitable for aging in place," notes Badger Realty agent, Amy Rogers.
And maybe it's just time for a change of scenery. I love living in the mountains and would not trade it for all the fun-size candy bars in the world. Perhaps your "mountains" are beaches and oceans. If you were buying a home for a small family, a home in some of the more beautiful locations in this world could have been financially out of reach. Now that you are a smaller family unit, you can focus on a smaller home. The finances might just work out nicely now and you can have your dream location without the huge price tag.
I've always dreamed of living in a small log cabin, 1,000 miles away from the nearest road (or human!). I've come to realize that I actually need a bit more space than that and, more importantly, I want to have my honey there with me. For all of us, it's worth considering how much "home" we really need and if we can or should rightsize. Perhaps "right" for you is more space and that's perfectly fine too. My cousin has a baker's dozen kids and for her having a farmhouse was simply perfect. Evaluate your own needs and see if it's time to make a change. Happy sizing!