Why is it so Hard to Downsize?

Currently, there are 10,000 people turning 65 every day in the U.S. and that will be the case for the next 20 years. Those Baby Boomers were a generation of accumulators.  With more wealth than previous generations Baby Boomers were able to collect not only all the household goods they could want, but all the fixings for their hobbies and interests.  Add to that all the furniture, china, crystal that they inherited from their parents and grandparents and that is a lot of stuff to divest themselves of when it comes time to downsize.  It is not just the stuff.  The emotions around downsizing are heavy and difficult to work through.


  • WE CAN’T BEAR TO SEE STUFF GO TO WASTE.  We become paralyzed by the thought that we don’t want stuff to wind up in the dump.  Especially stuff that has sentimental value.  Millennials don’t want to inherit stuff – they are living a minimalist life.  There are a bunch of contributing factors to that, but that is a story for another day.  So, the first issue is the logistics.  Where does all the stuff go?  That’s where we can help.  We have a booklet that goes into great detail on how to divest yourself of all that extra stuff.  Email me to get a copy of that booklet. The one thing I can say here is start now.  It will take longer than you think.  If you are preparing to sell your home, we can help you figure it out.


  • THE NUMBERS DON’T FEEL WORTH IT.  Our rational side tells us that downsizing our home makes sense – pull the equity from our home, lower taxes, lower maintenance costs, fewer people to hire to care for the house.  All of which is important as we move into retirement and live on a fixed income and retirement funds.   Yet, we can’t seem to pull the trigger.  Particularly here in the Boston area, it feels like a home that is 1/3 the size of what we own now costs 2/3 the price of our current home.  So why bother?  The truth is most of us will hit a point of no return.  For most of us, the taxes, insurance, and maintenance will continue to grow to the point where they exceed what we can pay in our retirement years.  It’s better to make the decisions before they are thrust upon you and while you are in a position to make the best decisions.


  • DOWNSIZING FEELS LIKE LIFE IS GOING BACKWARDS.  The home we are in now is likely where we raised our children and had a great life with a home full of family, entertaining, etc.  Moving to a smaller home is an acceptance that phase of our lives is in the past.  Aside from that, the home we are in now is likely the largest, nicest home – if not the only home we have lived in throughout our adult life.  Letting it go feels like taking a step back after a lifetime of accumulation and achievement.  But that emotion is what leaves us stuck in a life that is stressful, no longer fits, and holds us back from enjoying the next phase of our lives.  Maybe we can take a page from the Millennial playbook and minimize our life so that we can fill it with experiences and adventures instead.  Spend the money you save by downsizing on visiting children, grandchildren and friends, taking vacations or hanging with friends in meeting places instead of throwing parties.  A house does not define us or our place in the world.  The people who loves us, whom we love and whose lives we impact are what defines us.  

When you are ready to embrace the next phase of life and letting go of a too big house is part of that, I will be here to help.

Michelle J. Lane

MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor, Luxury Specialist
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Commonwealth
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