Forget downsizing

Consider rightsizing when your housing needs change

The most important thing to consider when rightsizing – whether you decided to stay or go, buy or rent – is the cost.

As the saying goes, “Home is where the heart is.”

If you’ve spent decades filling a house with belongings, memories and love, you know how true this statement can be.

But as we get older, and our lifestyles and needs change, we’ll likely have to decide whether to stay in our homes, buy something else or rent.

Often we consider downsizing as a way to simplify our lives — but the mere thought of such a change can be daunting for anyone of any age.

That’s why I suggest we look at the transition in a whole new way. Forget downsizing — consider rightsizing instead.

What’s rightsizing?

It’s finding the home and space that’s right for your budget, needs and lifestyle. Most of my clients who are retiring or already retired are making “lateral” moves such as going from $400,000 multi-level homes with big backyards in the suburbs to $400,000 lofts downtown.

Rightsized homes are not only easier to maintain, but they’re also often located in neighborhoods or areas with easy access to amenities such as lakes, restaurants, nightlife and even health care.

To figure out if rightsizing is a good idea for you, make sure you consider the following before making a move:

Crunch the numbers

The most important thing to consider when rightsizing — whether you decide to stay or go, buy or rent — is the cost.

You may think a smaller home may mean smaller monthly mortgage payments or smaller maintenance costs, but that may not always be the case.

Remember to factor in any possible association fees if you’re moving into a townhome or condo.

And speaking of moving, don’t forget to add in any moving, storage and new furniture or appliance costs, too.

Consider your lifestyle

The baby boomer generation sometimes is called the “go-go” generation: They’re always on the go!

When you decide to rightsize, you have the opportunity to relocate closer to all the new lifestyle amenities you’ll want to enjoy.

Ask yourself: “What do I want to do or enjoy doing in my free time?” “Where do I want to spend time golfing / playing tennis / biking?” “Would I prefer living in the city with restaurants, theater, shopping and museums — all within walking distance or in a quieter, more open setting where I might need to drive more or find transportation?”

Rightsizing may allow you to live closer to the lifestyle you want — and ideally, depending on where you choose, you’ll have a bit of monthly cash leftover to enjoy it.

Take family into account

Many people often choose to move or rightsize because they want to be closer to family.

In fact, multigenerational housing — such as properties with mother-in-law apartments or spaces set aside for the parents of grown children — is expected to remain strong in 2016.

Multigenerational housing allows families to be closer to each other (and sometimes even live under the same roof), but it’s also a wonderful way for mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, and the kids to cut down on costs.

Family plays a big part of our lives, so it’s only fitting that you consider including them in your decision-making process.

Simplify your stuff

Lastly, if you’re seriously considering rightsizing — start going through your things now and declutter! This can be difficult, both emotionally and physically, especially if you’ve accumulated a lot of things over several years.

But simplifying your stuff before you make a move will help give you a better idea of what you need for space and storage in your next home. If you’re worried you won’t be able to live in a smaller space, think about renting for a year or two before you buy.

Remember, rightsizing may also mean you decide to stay put and hire out maintenance services instead, like lawn care and snow removal.

You may be surprised when you run the numbers that keeping your current home — even with those added expenses — may still cost less than moving.

Andy Prasky is a real estate professional with RE/MAX Advantage Plus in Minneapolis/St. Paul. As an 18-year industry veteran, he’s sold more than 1,000 homes. His areas of expertise include new construction / land development, short sale / foreclosure prevention, first-time home buyers, rightsizing empty nesters and training new real estate agents. Prasky also hosts the Real Estate Radio Hour on WCCO 830 AM from 10 to 11 a.m. every Saturday. Learn more at