When The Beatles released the whimsical "When I'm 64" in 1967 the average American 13-year-old listening to the song must have felt the idea of being 64 was a lifetime away. Fast forward to 2018 and those 13-year-old's are indeed turning 64, and they are looking at how their flip side will play out.
Unlike the generations before them that took pride in "aging in place" and living their remaining years in the homes where they raised families, this Baby Boom generation has different ideas. These seniors are more likely to downsize in retirement by moving to a smaller residence so the question becomes for these Empty Nesters...when is it the right time to fly the coop?
Maybe the Fab Four knew what they were singing about because, the perfect age to downsize, according to a study from the United Kingdom, is ... you guessed it ... age 64!
The study found that 64 was the sweet spot as seniors were still young enough to handle the physical and mental aspects of downsizing and had enough years left to reap the benefits of their new arrangements.
Still, downsizing is not a "one-size-fits-all" decision, so lets look at four factors that can provide a clue as to when it is time for you to make the move.
When Your Fixed Income Can't Cover Expenses
We talked about how earlier generations wanted to "age in place", but those places were smaller in the past with less upkeep. Since the 1950s, the average American home size has doubled and with that comes increased expenses.
In retirement, your income is likely to be fixed, based mostly on Social Security and any pension. The expenses of a home, especially the upkeep above your mortgage, insurance and taxes, can eat into fixed income.
Senior.com says when upkeep is figured into the equation, seniors renting apartments with a higher monthly rent than their previous mortgage and property taxes still saved money in the long run because of less expenses.
Frankly, as you age your fixed income dollars will be put to the stress test when it comes to medical issues, so downsizing to a condo or apartment can take the worry from unexpected expensive repairs such as replacing a roof or an HVAC system.
When You Are Having Difficulty Maintaining Your Home
When you are in your spry 30's or 40's, doing simple home repairs or cleaning the leaves out of the gutters in the fall are tasks easily completed.
As you get older, however, just trying to get under the sink to look at a suspect pipe may make you feel like you need a hip placement. And, getting up on a ladder can become dangerous if you have balance issues.
Even mundane household chores such as weeding or changing air filters can become difficult.
For those forever young at heart, it can become a liability to maintain your home if you don't know when it is time to quit certain activities ... just ask the 102-year British man who recently spent 3 days on the roof of his home after going up to fix his television antenna.
When You Are No Longer Using All Of The Space
When you get to the "empty nest" phase of your life, there is no doubt that you won't be using the space in your home like you used to.
Even when the nest was full, the space may not have been utilized. A UCLA Center on Everyday Lives of Families study tracked 32 middle-class families over four years and found that the majority of their lives spent inside the home were in 68 percent of the space, mostly in the kitchen, eating area, family room where the main TV was located and, naturally, the bathroom.
The upkeep and expenses to your home is tied to the size of your place, so downsizing to a smaller place will free up funds for you to spend on travel, entertainment and medical expenses.
When You Need Help Physically
When you are younger you might think about how "baby proof" your home is, but you don't buy it with how "senior proof" it is.
As we age things like steps and stairs become mobility and safety issues.
Downsizing allows you to find a place that meets your current and future mobility needs. If you require more hands-on care, you can downsize to a living arrangement with other family members or caregivers or even into a continuing care retirement community.
The Beatles lyrics from"When I'm 64" included the line "Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?" but today's seniors are humming a different tune, they are asking for more, and downsizing is just the start.