Is Your Home What’s Holding You Back?
Just days before my dad passed away, he told my mom not to sell the family home. So she didn’t…
Mom lived 20 minutes away from me and 40 minutes from my brother. Along with a few caring neighbours, we helped her to keep dad’s wish alive as she stayed on in an empty 2,000 square foot house. The only thing we couldn’t help her with was the isolation and loneliness she was dealing with in this house of memories after 46 years of marriage.
As the second winter approached after dad’s passing, I asked mom, “Are you happy living here? Is this the life you see yourself living for the next few decades?”. I waited for her answer and she replied “I’m not sure…”
As she began to think more about improving her lifestyle, specifically how to inject more joy and social interaction, she eventually let my brother and I know that she was ready to make a change.
Here are the ten key questions that helped her come to her decision.
10 important questions to ask yourself to see if your house is holding you back:
1. Is my house the right size for me?
Are you over-housed? It’s great if you’ve converted an empty bedroom into a hobby room, enjoy exercising in your finished basement, and have family and friends occupying your guest room regularly throughout the year. However, if this is not the case, and you continue to pay for the upkeep, taxes and utilities on a larger home that is under-used, then you may want to consider a smaller-sized home. There’s no question that a lower priced or smaller home may be easier to manage, especially if resources are fixed.
2. Do I enjoy the ongoing maintenance of my home?
There was a time when my mom enjoyed maintaining the family home, gardening, mowing the lawn, and dusting her collection of Royal Doultons. Eventually these routine tasks became much less enjoyable and more laborious for her. If you no longer have the time, interest, or energy for the ongoing maintenance of a larger home, maybe it’s time to move.
3. Is my home the safest place that I can be today and in the years to come?
Is your current home equipped to keep pace with changes in your health or mobility? It was very important to mom to have fewer (or no) stairs in her next home as she was becoming less steady on her feet. She also wanted to be in a home where she felt safe as she aged. For her, the choice to move into a condominium solved both of those concerns. There are many styles of homes and some may be a better match for your physical ability. Some gated communities for residents 50+ offer different housing styles with routine maintenance and added security included.
4. Have my friends and neighbours moved away?
When you have lived at your home for any length of time you may find that your neighbourhood has changed. If friends, relatives, neighbours and your favourite merchants have moved away, maybe it’s time for you to consider moving also.
5. Would it be better for me to live closer to family?
Are you currently taking long trips to visit your grandchildren? Maybe you need a little regular help from a family member? If your grown children have moved further away making it more difficult to spend time with them and the grandchildren, maybe it would be beneficial for you to move closer to them.
6. Does my community offer any social and recreational options?
This was a big factor for mom when deciding whether or not to move. She was tired of feeling lonely and craved more social interaction. It was also important to her to live in a community that was in easy walking distance to shops, parks and places to meet with friends for tea.
7. Is it easy to use public transportation from my house?
Some people choose not to drive any longer and therefore need to be close to public transportation or near quality medical care. How convenient is it for you to use public transit where you are currently living?
8. What is my home’s equity and do I need it to live on?
For many, the equity that has built up in the family home over the years is the main source of retirement savings. If you need to convert that equity into cash and income to be financially secure in the coming years, selling your home may be the best choice. Be sure to consult with your financial advisor to put together a plan that’s best for you.
9. Should I move to a less-expensive place?
Is your current home eating into your savings or causing you stress worrying about the monthly bills or upkeep? Perhaps moving into a smaller space or into a rental apartment can free up a little extra cash to invest, travel, or help make ends meet. A lot depends on your personal financial situation so be sure to consult with your financial advisor or accountant as well as a qualified REALTOR®.
10. Does my house fit my lifestyle?
Perhaps the idea of taking trips really excites you but you are concerned about leaving an empty house for extended periods of time. Or you may want to be better located to activities you enjoy such as golf, walking trails, and organized recreation. Maybe you’d just like to move closer to old friends or to a place where you can make new friends with similar interests to yours.
Mom spent a good amount of time deliberating over these questions before deciding to make a move. She chose to move into a condominium building that is within walking distance to a lovely park, shops and all kinds of amenities.
She now swims every morning with a new friend and enjoys regular afternoon tea get-togethers with neighbours. She even borrowed a lederhosen costume from her sister for the St. Patrick’s Day party in her condominium. How times have changed! Moving to a new home gave my mom the opportunity to start over and design a life full of social interaction, comfort and joy. She is much happier and healthier as a result. It’s amazing what a move towards a better life can do.
I’m John Procenko and this experience with mom motivated me to start the ‘On the Move Workshops’ and ‘On the Move Adult Community Tours’. Our goal is to give boomers and their aging parents the tools and information that’s critical to know when contemplating a move. Our workshops and tours are free and there is no obligation whatsoever (except to have a great time!). Go to 50PlusOnTheMove.ca or call 905-472-7155 to register.
John Procenko, Broker
Senior Real Estate Specialist
Serving York & Durham Regions