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Why Some Boomers Don't Want to Downsize Anymore

Happy Boomer Grandmother with daughter and grandaughter making salad in kitchen

Young couples often move out of a one-bedroom apartment because their family is growing. Families with pre-teens may move to a home closer to schools and other activities. And, many boomers consider downsizing as their children are grown and out on their own.

In fact, there are an estimated 70 million Americans between the ages of 54 and 73 that are not downsizing into smaller homes, even though Boomers living in empty nests have an average of two extra bedrooms.

But many boomers are deciding to stay put in their four-bedroom homes and refusing to downsize. Here are the main reasons:

They are already in their dream homes

Whether its the chef's kitchen, hardwood floors, great light, or location, many boomers feel they aren't going to find another home they like as well as the one they've got. Many homes can be retrofitted with stair chairs or elevators to accommodate mobility issues, and the expense justifies the means because their home is perfect in their minds.

They need space for family visits

Nothing says "you're on your own" to grown kids like moving to a house where visits necessitate nearby hotel accommodations. Many boomers want their kids to visit, bring grandkids, and celebrate holidays and special occasions where they can all be together in one place, and the family home holds the memories that make these events even more special.

Housing inventory is tight

In markets where Boomers are staying put, there is a noticeable shortage in housing that would appeal to growing families. You would think that a sort of "swapping" would be taking place where Boomers would move into the smaller homes of younger families, and vice versa. The high interest rates and slowly lowering home prices that reached before unseen heights in the pandemic, however, are keeping everyone in place.

The costs of moving are too much

It isn't just the financial cost of moving that many boomers are uneasy about, it is the emotional cost of leaving a beloved home behind. Call it sentimental or practical, finding a home with just the right amount of space at just the right price is daunting for boomers who are recently retired or looking to retire. It could be as simple as "they have no other place to go" or "it isn't in the cards financially."

Another consideration is the health toll a move can make on some. The physical and mental exertion can overwhelm some boomers, and that cost isn't worth the price.

They want to hold on to the memories

A study in Cortex magazine states that older adults remember the good times: changes in brain connectivity with aging enable older adults to remember positive events. Reminders of those events can come from mementos, pictures, clothing, and even an old teapot your grandmother favored. These items need space to store and display, and going through them to thin them out for a move is daunting. Another study shows that being surrounded by familiarity is comforting and meaningful to many.

They are still working (and parenting)

Baby boomers are in the workforce later in life than past generations. Between 2011 and 2029, roughly 3.8 million Boomers are expected to turn 65 each year - that's about 10,000 daily. But 10,000 Boomers are not leaving the workforce each day.

Most Boomers polled in a survey by Pew Research say 45% expect to work past the age of 65, and their households function a little differently in the current economic environment as well.

A lot of Boomers haven't experienced the Empty Nest Syndrome yet, though to some, it is long overdue. Nearly 52% of young adults (aged 18-29) still live at home, which is the highest rate in 80 years. Nearly 17% of adults aged 25-34 are living at home as well. As retirement and kids moving out are often triggers for downsizing, many Boomers still need their larger homes and are staying put.

Technology makes it easier to stay in place

Roombas, smaller, rechargeable vacuums, online food ordering and delivery, Echos, Food Kits, Ring doorbells - technology has made home life so much easier and safer. In the past, many older homeowners haven't been able to function as well at home or getting out to shop, but technology has made these everyday tasks much easier to manage. The need to move to a more manageable space or a place with assistance isn't as critical as it once was.

Do you know a Boomer that has decided to stay in their larger family home? What other reasons might they have?


Sources: Science Daily, Apartment Therapy, Pew Research, Trulia



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