Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Boomers' Downsizing Dilemma

An article from Housing Zone discusses the increasing need for housing appropriate for baby boomers. The article sets out four main issues that baby boomers have with downsizing: Physical, Financial, Emotional and Social.

The Physical aspect of the downsizing dilemma is also typically the motivating factor for baby boomers to move in the first place. A new home that is smaller hits two of the biggest desires of empty nesters: a smaller footprint means less maintenance or less maintenance from shifting more of the maintenance duties to someone else like a condominium corp, and single-level living.

But baby boomers first have to overcome the mental roadblock that comes with a smaller home: “Where will the kids stay?” “My dining table and hutch won't fit!” Often, it takes time to realize that less maintenance and single level living trumps these issues, and in fact taking the opportunity to divest some of the items that require so much care leads to a lower maintenance lifestyle too.

That is often wrapped up in a second issue, which is Emotional attachment. Baby boomer often face this mental roadblock to downsizing as well. Letting go of possessions that they have had for years, like the greatly over sized dining room table, is fraught with emotion, regardless of the fact that the table sees far less use. That emotional impact is far greater when dealing with the “family home” until the baby boomers feel comfortable that this will be the place where new memories are made, and hat the features of their new home will make living there easier.

Baby boomer downsizers also have a problem reconciling the financial responsibilities of their new home with the value that they are getting. Many assume there is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in cost based on the size of the new home versus the old home, even though that is not typically the case since smaller homes are more expensive to build on a per-square-foot basis.

Lastly, the article discusses the Social aspect of downsizing for baby boomers. Drastic downsizing can begin to feel like downgrading. Boomers who mentally prepare for that and realize that their new home provides happiness in lower maintenance and costs will find making the move easier.

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