Baby Boomers: Should You Downsize?

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My husband, Scott, and I downsized from a 3,000-square-foot home to a 400-square-foot casita almost two years ago. We've never been happier. Have any of you boomers downsized or are you planning to do so in the near future? You're not alone.

RELATED: Downsizing for Retirement

Baby Boomers: Should You Downsize?

Recently, there's been a cultural shift with more people interested in living minimally and choosing to live with less. And not just us boomers who may be empty nesters.

Part of the trend may be due to author Marie Kondo's popular book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” which encourages minimalism by urging readers to get rid of things that don't bring them joy.

Then there was the whole “tiny house” movement. More and more people began choosing experiences, adventures, and seeing the world over a big house with a huge mortgage.

Although minimalism isn't exactly the same concept as the hippie movement in the 60s, you boomers may relate. Remember when many young people thought society had been corrupted by capitalism and the materialist culture it created? Although a more radical time, it dawned on many that while pursuing “success,” people lost sight of the more meaningful experiences life had to offer.

Of course, this is a personal and important decision that's not for everyone. But, why should you consider moving to a smaller home?

Why Downsize? The pandemic made many boomers rethink their priorities. After being separated from family during the pandemic, some wanted to move closer to their children and grandchildren.

If their kids live where the cost of living is higher, a smaller house may make the move possible. If their children have large properties, tiny houses may be an option.

Some boomers lost their jobs or watched their retirement dreams fade as the pandemic raged on and were forced to look at other options. That may have included selling their large family home and downsizing to cut expenses.

In fact, money is a primary motivating factor when deciding to downsize, according to a survey in the article, “The Upside to Downsizing.”

When respondents were asked why they might want to purchase a smaller home, 59% of baby boomer homeowners said saving money was their primary reason for doing so.


Others, like myself, chose smaller digs as a lifestyle choice. True, Scott and I wanted to save more money for retirement, but we also wanted to live a simpler life to have more time for meaningful activities and pursue our goals and dreams.

The survey showed that desiring less responsibility and more freedom definitely played a part in the decision-making. A third of boomers (38%), perhaps empty nesters, stated their previous home was simply too large.

Another 36% claimed their larger home was too much work to clean and maintain. The survey revealed 22% wanted to reduce stress and 16% liked the idea of reducing clutter.

That was certainly the case with my husband and me. After my son was granted full custody of his children, we volunteered to move into our two-room casita and rent the main house to him and the kids. We had been considering downsizing for a while.

Turning 60, we wanted to make the decade count while we were still healthy enough to do so. By this time, I was tired of the responsibility of cleaning a big house. Fascinated with living a minimalistic lifestyle, we watched endless episodes of “Tiny House” programs on HGTV.

It soon became apparent, we wanted to spend more time on meaningful activities and new adventures. In other words, a large home no longer served our needs.

Although I have to admit, there was a bit of trepidation downsizing from a 3,000-square-foot home to a 400-square-foot casita. Would we really enjoy it? The answer is a resounding yes! We have absolutely no regrets and savor our newfound freedom.

My son's rent payment on the house covers most of the mortgage and we split the cost of utilities. In addition, because we have less space to store possessions, we consume less. These changes have allowed us to save money and realize some of our dreams now and inch closer to other goals.

Since we downsized, we were able to achieve my lifetime dream of traveling to Africa. We just purchased a travel trailer and are having fun camping now and are one step closer to realizing Scott's dream of traveling the states together after he retires.

Without the responsibility of caring for a large home and yard, we feel our time is better spent in spiritual activities and volunteer work. Not to mention, I now have more time to work on my latest writing project – a book on writing in retirement that is currently in the editing process.

Perhaps author Sheri Koones put things in the proper perspective. She encouraged using the term “right-sizing” instead of the word “downsizing,” which can feel like you're being deprived.

Right-sizing focuses on what is “right” for you now – on what's really important to you – and finding a way to incorporate those priorities in your life. Right-sizing allows you to create the lifestyle you want with more money to enjoy it.

For example, maybe you want to relocate to a warmer climate. A smaller home can allow more time and money for outdoor activities like golf, tennis, or cycling.

Perhaps you want to live in an exciting, bustling city within walking distance of restaurants, bars, theaters, and shopping and choose to live in a smaller condo or apartment. Right-sizing can open doors.

The Downside of DownsizingSenior Couple Downsizing In Retirement Packing And Labelling Boxes-Baby Boomers

Of course, saying all this, there are some cons to downsizing. In the survey, respondents cited having less space and privacy as the most difficult adjustment to downsizing.

Interestingly, almost twice as many Millennials and Gen Xers complained about privacy issues than baby boomers.

Half the respondents admitted getting rid of possessions was a big challenge. Moving, no matter the circumstances is stressful and can be expensive.

If you enjoy gardening, you will probably have less space to do so. And if you love entertaining guests, a smaller home may get in the way.

My Tips to DownsizingDownsizing message sign made of wood on a white desk in an office environment-Baby Boomers

As one who has been there and done that, here are some tips for those of you who want to downsize like me:

* First of all, this is a big decision. Don't rush it. Consider all your options when it comes to downsizing with your lifestyle goals in mind. Do you want a smaller one-level home that allows room for friends, family, and those precious grandchildren to visit?

Are you social and want to live in a 55 and older community that offers a variety of recreational activities? Or are you adventurous and want the freedom of a home on wheels like an RV, trailer, or tiny house – or maybe even a houseboat? Is it more important that you live in the city or do you need a yard?

* Not sure what you want? You may want to rent an apartment or a tiny house before making a purchasing decision.

* If you are downsizing, it's important to consider just how small you want to go. Even 50 extra square feet makes a big difference in a small home.

After purchasing our camping trailer, I realized that these 200-square-feet “tiny houses” or living full-time in an RV is not for me. I prefer a foundation under my feet.

We are fortunate to have a separate room for our bedroom which allows us some personal space. Also, unusual for tiny houses, our fairly large bathroom actually has a double sink. Believe me, that makes a big difference! Give careful thought to what's essential to you.

* When it comes time to let go of your treasures, work on one room at a time so you're not overwhelmed. Remember, photo albums that take tons of space can be digitized.

If you have collections, try to choose a few items that mean the most to you and either sell the rest, or perhaps a family member may want part of it.

In my case, my son agreed to keep my treasured antique book collection in the main house. If you have an emotional attachment to certain items, you may want to consider storage options.

* You've probably heard this before, but it's true. Light colors and keeping clutter to a bare minimum make smaller spaces appear larger.

* Make your outdoor space count. To help solve the problem of a lack of space to entertain guests, we fixed up the courtyard where we have room for two large tables. We use that space often for ourselves as well, for outdoor dining and extra living space.

* I soon found out storage is everything when you are living in a small home. Be sure to use lots of hidden storage and multi-purpose furniture.

Julie A. Gorges is an award-winning author and journalist writing about life after 50. Her blog,, was selected as one of the top 50 baby boomer blogs, and her books, including her award-winning book, “I'm Your Daughter, Julie,” are available on Amazon. To learn more about Julie, visit her author website at

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