Many recently retired seniors and boomers are experiencing the empty-nest syndrome and are looking at downsizing their current household for a simpler and smaller lifestyle. The Trembley Group Real Estate clients, Jack and Donna, are typical seniors/boomers. They resisted downsizing for years, but now that they’ve made the move, they couldn’t be happier. Their excitement to downsizing came down to a few powerful points.
For Jack, the decision to downsize came after retirement and was motivated by the burden yard work had become. Jack and his wife Donna had lived in a 4,200 square foot home on four and a half acres in Connecticut for 32 years. “Everywhere I turned, there was something that needed to be done, something that needed maintenance, something to be upgraded,” says Jack. “I loved gardening when we moved into our house. But at 66, cutting the lawn and trimming shrubbery had become an all day, every weekend ordeal, even with a riding lawnmower.” Jack says that if he wasn’t cutting grass in the summer, he was raking leaves in the fall or plowing snow off the driveway and sidewalks in the winter.
Jack and Donna moved into a condominium that’s about half the size of their Connecticut house. “I thought I’d miss the gardening,” he says. “But it turns out that spending an hour or two after a round of golf, taking care of my two tomato plants, my containerized herb garden, and the simple landscaping on the patio fits the bill nicely. It is a treat to have the time for other pursuits,” he says. “I still enjoy gardening but now I have time for golf and fishing, too.”
For Donna, the joy of downsizing comes from less cleaning and maintenance in their new home. “I used to spend what seemed like days cleaning rooms that no one ever used. Today it only takes fifteen minutes to vacuum the whole place,” she says. “And believe it or not, I feel a lot safer here. My best friend in Connecticut was carrying a vacuum cleaner from the second floor to the first when she caught her heel, fell down half a flight of stairs and broke her hip.” Donna says she occasionally misses the big old house, but never enough to regret the move. “That was the right house for that period in our lives. Now we have the right house for the life we lead today.”
Many seniors and boomers worry that rules and restrictions within senior restricted living communities will cramp their style, making it a far less than an ideal situation. In fact, in most cases just the opposite is true. The purpose of the downsizing process is to allow seniors and boomers more freedom and independence to enjoy the things in life that are most precious to them. Jack and Donna found spending less time cleaning and maintaining a large home and property frees up time to spend with friends and family, volunteering with their favorite charity, and finally going on a mission trip with their new-found church.
“The longstanding fear that moving to an adult living community would prevent that kind loss of independence was a huge hurdle for Jack and me to overcome,” Donna says. “Sometimes we just seemed to be paralyzed by the fear. But the reality is that downsizing to an adult living community is not that much different than living in any other community. Between the smaller house, less stuff and more financial security, it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted from our shoulders.”
There were not as many rules and restrictions in their new community as they imagined. “We still have the freedom to come and go, attend events, and eat out with friends or family as much or as little as we choose,” Jack added. For Jack and Donna, downsizing to an adult living community was all about making life more productive and enjoyable, not putting a damper on it.
The fear of losing friendships and the ability to socialize and make new friends is among the most prevalent myths associated with senior living communities. Seniors and boomers worry that if they move to a senior living community, lifelong friends and family members will forget all about them and they will lose touch, leaving them isolated, alone, and bored.
The reality is, for Jack and Donna, not only did downsizing and moving to an adult living community not interfere with social life, it actually increased it. Most senior living communities offer a plethora of social opportunities, ranging from shopping trips to malls, bridge (or poker) clubs, regular golf foursomes, nights out on the town for dinner and theater, and full-fledged group vacations to exotic locations to name a few. Jack and Donna’s community has an activities director that helped them make new friends and they have managed to maintain old friendships as well.
Many seniors and boomers confuse less space with less quality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many properties that cater to boomers and seniors offer homes with the premium materials and finishes that they are used to and expect. “Our home has a 50-year warranty roof, premium stainless steel kitchen appliances, a super high-efficiency heating and cooling system, and granite countertops with a ceramic tile backsplash in the kitchen,” Jack says. Downsizing property and belongings saved them money, but it didn’t mean sacrificing their quality of life.
With the mortgage nearly paid on their Connecticut home, Jack and Donna, were able to use a little-known and much-misunderstood product called a HECM, or a reverse mortgage for purchase loan to buy their Myrtle Beach home. “I’d never heard of it until we started talking with The Trembley Group,“ Jack said. “For us it was a no-brainer. It clinched the decision.” The HECM is an FHA insured loan that allows purchasers to convert home equity into cash with no monthly mortgage payment.
“Our house in Connecticut was worth a substantial amount of money,” Jack said. “Our downsizing plan had always been to sell our Connecticut home and pay cash for a smaller, easier to maintain, and less expensive retirement home. We were blown away when The Trembley Group Realtor explained the HECM mortgage loan to us. We’re living here now without any mortgage payment at all and we know that will not change as long as we’re alive. All we have to do is keep our home insured and the taxes paid. But we also got to keep much of the equity. Sort of having our cake and eating it, too, isn’t it? That extra cash makes visiting the kids a lot easier. And we’re planning a month-long, dream-of-a-lifetime European vacation next year that will be guilt-free… or almost guilt-free. Ask me when we get back.”
There are lots of good reasons to downsize. There are probably almost as many good reasons as there are seniors and boomers thinking about doing it. But it’s not a simple decision. There are many factors to consider and it’s not a process that should be entered into without expert advice. The Sales Executives at The Trembley Group Real Estate have a combined decades of experience helping seniors and boomers find the perfect house – the home that most perfectly fits what they need and what’s most important to them. Give The Trembley Group a call for an appointment with a relocation and downsizing expert and start the next most exciting and potentially profitable chapter of your life in Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand.
Need help? Call The Trembley Group at 843.945.1880 ext. 100 and we’ll help you look for the perfect listing or buyers agent!
At The Trembley Group, we pride ourselves on being the experts at more than just selling real estate. We are local residents, some of us have been here for a lifetime. The rest of us will be here until the end of time. We love living, working, and playing in the diverse backyard of Coastal Carolina, and look forward to helping you live and love your dreams soon too. Please reach out to us by phone or email for personalized service and one-on-one advice.