Savvy Downsizing Tips for LA-Bound Retirees
A simplified lifestyle, more funds for travel, pursuing a hobby business — there are a lot of reasons why seniors downsize in retirement. If you find yourself fantasizing about a smaller, cheaper home, downsizing could be a smart move for you, too. And LA is the perfect place to do it, between the vibrant culture and flora and fauna which are yours to savor in California. But before putting your house on the market, there are a few things to know about downsizing.
Shopping for a Downsized Home
Condo versus house, single-story versus two. There’s a lot to consider as you shop for your forever home.
Should you buy a condo?
Condos are an attractive option for retirees. With minimal maintenance and on-site amenities, condos are the epitome of laid back senior living. However, don’t be swayed by a condo’s low price tag. SFGate suggests comparing the various advantages and disadvantages, like association fees against maintenance on a single-family home, to understand the best value.
What to look for in an age-friendly home
Low-maintenance isn’t all that matters. Older homebuyers should aim for senior-friendly features, such as:
- Step-free entrance.
- Main level master suite.
- Wide doorways.
- Accessible outlets and switches.
- Roll-in or curbless shower.
- Ample lighting.
Exploring your options
One of the best ways to ensure you’ll be satisfied with your choice is to give it a test drive. There are vacation rentals available in all shapes and styles, so consider trying one on for size. Platforms like Turnkey are a safe bet; you can use the search criteria to find a rental that suits your needs, and you can rest assured that you’ll get a quality stay. Full kitchens, 24/7 guest support, a seamless check-in and professional cleaning ensure a comfortable experience.
LA offers boundless opportunities for engagement throughout your retirement. If you plan to spend a lot of time with your grandkids, you might consider neighborhoods close to the zoo, Dodger Stadium or Disney. If sun and sand becon you, Venice Beach or Redondo Beach might be a better fit. By choosing a rental, you can sample the real life experience.
Financing Your New Home
Buyers of any age can get a mortgage. However, proving your income is harder in retirement. Per FPA, older adults may need documents such as Social Security and pension award letters, bank statements, and 1099 forms to qualify for a mortgage.
Conventional mortgages are generally the most competitive for buyers who can afford a sizable down payment. But what if seniors want to tap their equity for retirement spending and take out a larger mortgage loan instead?
Buyers have a few options for low down payment loans, the most well-known of which is the FHA loan program. For seniors who are veterans, the VA loan program offers even better terms. VA loans don’t require private mortgage insurance and allow as little as 0% down. Explore current VA rates when deciding if this is the right choice for you.
Preparing for a Retirement Downsize
Buying a home is only the first step in downsizing. In order to live comfortably in a downsized home, retirees also need to edit their belongings:
- Pace yourself. It’s better to do a little every day than burn out halfway through.
- Ask for help. Whether it’s your grown children finally collecting their things or siblings sorting through family mementos, don’t hesitate to ask for the help you need.
- Be realistic about space limitations. No one likes living in a cluttered home. Be honest about what will fit in your new home to avoid overcrowding; you can even use a virtual room planner for laying out spaces.
- Hold an estate sale. Rather than selling piecemeal, hold an estate sale to part with items quickly. Use online estate sales or sell by appointment to practice social distancing.
Budgeting for moving costs
Moving is the final hurdle for senior downsizers. While decluttering reduces what you’ll pay for a professional move, seniors should understand what goes into quotes from movers to avoid sticker shock. Even if you have minimal stuff, you may pay more if you’re moving long distance, moving on a busy day of the week, or require storage before your items are delivered.
Done right, downsizing can be a smart move for your retirement years. Whether you’re after lower costs, lower maintenance, or just a more laid-back lifestyle, downsizing can help you achieve your retirement goals.