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For Some Retirees, Upsizing Actually Makes Sense

For Some Retirees, Upsizing Actually Makes Sense

  • 02.11.20
  • Retirement & Longevity
  • Newsletter

A larger home makes sense to retirees open to multigenerational living.

Retirees often choose to simplify life by downsizing to a space with minimal upkeep. But what if the opposite – a bigger place, with room for multiple generations under one roof – really suits you?

A 2019 survey of 50-year-olds conducted by Del Webb, a builder of active adult communities, found that 65% of those planning to move prefer their next home be the same size or bigger than their current one. There are myriad reasons why, from the prestige of a big house and room for people to visit to saving money on shared utilities and joint caregiving responsibilities for children and elderly family members.

Family matters and finances

A record 64 million Americans live in a multigenerational household, a Pew Research Center review of 2016 census data shows. That’s 20% of the U.S. population.

But before you move more people under one roof, a thorough discussion of what each can contribute and what they hope to get out of it is in order. The simple luxury of more time with loved ones is an obvious benefit, but other perks can add up.

Grandparents who aren’t working outside the home might help with childcare and meal preparation, easing the burden for their adult children. And older people who had trouble making ends meet can find the arrangement less costly than traditional senior housing.

The key to making it work for everyone is in the details – and setting clear boundaries ahead of time. What will each person pay for? How will the chores be split? How will the communal spaces be used?

You’ll also want to make sure upsizing doesn’t disrupt your long-term financial plan. Your advisor can investigate scenarios for you and guide you on how to balance helping others and making strides toward your personal goals.

A house built on memories

Once you’re on the hunt for a house, you’ll no doubt have a long list of desires from everyone involved. You may want a property with an attached apartment or a second master suite with its own bathroom. If you’re building a new house, consider accessibility – with doorways and hallways wide enough for someone to use with a wheelchair, or a zero-step entrance, for example. This will make it compatible with aging.

Buying a larger home to share with generations of your family has its tradeoffs. You’ll have to deal with other people’s schedules, needs and pet peeves, but in return there will be shared meals, shared laughter and the satisfaction of spending time with your loved ones.

Next steps

As you plot your next move:

  • Consider whether upsizing makes sense for your family
  • Hold discovery conversations with family members
  • Consider desired location and amenities
  • Review finances with your advisor

Sources: Consumer Reports; Forbes; Wired magazine