Selling a home where you made precious memories is always challenging. And having to make that decision after losing a spouse can be even more strenuous.
But if your kids have flown the nest and you’re left managing a home by yourself, downsizing may be something to consider.
There are plenty of options for widows, such as apartments, in-law suites, condos, and assisted living facilities. Below we explore a few tell-tale signs that selling your home could bring a much-needed fresh start.
First, Give Yourself Time To Grieve
Losing a spouse is one of the greatest heartaches you’ll ever experience. Before thinking about the road ahead, take all the time you need to heal. Home Buying and selling is a significant stressor and a huge financial event, so jumping into the process before you’re ready can be a costly mistake.
Grief makes us look at the world differently, often causing impulsiveness or emotionally driven decision-making. But in some cases, these quick decisions are short-sighted and may not serve you best over the long run.
While everyone grieves differently, I recommend that you wait six months or so after the passing of a loved one to make any significant decisions like buying or selling a home. It’s hard to know when you’re truly “ready,” but giving yourself plenty of time to process can help.
6 Signs It’s Time to Downsize
So, does it make sense to downsize? While everyone’s circumstances are different, I’ve identified six scenarios widows tend to experience after losing a loved one.
Sign #1: You Have Too Much Space
In your working years, your family required lots of space—an office for you and your spouse, a playroom for the kids, extra bedrooms, and maybe a spacious backyard.
But take a look at these rooms today. If most of them have turned into storage, it may be time to think about moving somewhere smaller. If you no longer use the space, why pay to maintain it?
Use this opportunity to think about what may be important for you in a home. If you’re a creative person, an art or dance studio would be nice. Or, if you’re a gardener at heart, a greenhouse or potting shed could be a priority.
Downsizing doesn’t mean cramming your life into a studio apartment. It’s about reprioritizing your needs and finding a space that better suits you in this new stage of life.
Sign #2: Your Home Isn’t As Age-Friendly As You Thought
Aging gracefully in your home becomes tricky when things like stairs, steep driveways, and narrow hallways get in the way.
Some women choose to renovate their homes to include more safety measures, and you may find that to be a suitable option as well. But there are certain things, like a third-floor bedroom or long, winding driveway, that you can’t easily “fix.”. Unfortunately, if that’s the case, considering a new, safer house might be better.
Sign #3: You’d Like To Add Money Into Your Monthly Cash Flow
I don’t have to tell you that homeownership is expensive.
But after years of owning your home, there are some expenses you may have simply gotten used to paying, including property taxes, insurance, school taxes, landscaping, routine maintenance, new appliances, etc. If you’re looking to increase your cash flow after losing a spouse, cutting these ongoing expenses could be one answer.
Downsizing to a smaller home means less to worry about. You could even rent a house or apartment, in which case property taxes, upgrading appliances, and maintenance would no longer be your financial obligation.
Sign #4: Your Support System Is Far Away
Combating loneliness plays a crucial role in living a fulfilling retirement. But with a spouse gone, it becomes much easier for loneliness and isolation to creep in. If you and your spouse traveled a lot or moved somewhere away from friends and family, this may be a time to consider relocating closer to loved ones.
It’s essential to have a strong support system in place, now more than ever.
Sign #5: You’re Financially Prepared for a Move
Selling a house is expensive, even in this hot market, and most realtors recommend sprucing up your place before putting it on the market. But even cosmetic fixes can add up quickly, like repainting, freshening the floors, upgrading tired fixtures, etc.
Before you decide to move, be sure you know the full cost like minor fixes, realtor fees, a moving company, and more.
If this is something you’re concerned about, I can look at your current cash flow and savings to help determine if selling your home is a viable option.
Sign #6: You Know What You Want Next
Before making any major moves, plan out what you want to do next. Once you start the home buying and selling process, things can move quickly and get stressful. Decide upfront if you’re going to rent or buy and how this will impact your retirement savings and income strategy.
If you need more support or caretaking for your home, a retirement community may also be a suitable option. Like any other choice, there are advantages and disadvantages in moving to this living situation. Weigh the lifestyle and financial implications of transitioning to a retirement community before deciding.
Working with Wealthcare for Women
Losing a loved one, especially a spouse, is devastating, and my heart goes out to every woman who has had to experience it. Whenever you’re ready to think about the next steps, my door is always open.
Feel free to schedule a call where we can talk about what your next stage in life may look like.