The Right Size Matters: Retirees Downsize Their Work but Upsize Their Homes

Epcon_Interior_Promenade_Kitchen to Courtyard

There’s a widely held belief that retirees and empty nesters make a major lifestyle shift at this crossroads in their lives. While it’s true that the lack of a work schedule and kids to care for frees up a lot of time, many 55+ adults are not looking at their lives as a matter of the size of their home. For them the right size matters. Retirees downsize their work, but many are upsizing their homes.

A 2014 Merrill Lynch study of 3,638 adults—which included 2,192 Baby Boomers—reported that half of pre-retirees who had expected to downsize at retirement didn’t follow through with that vision. In fact, 30 percent actually moved to a larger home.

According to Ken Dychtwald, CEO of the consulting firm that partnered to do the survey, “more and more people are turning their empty nests into nurturing nests.”

Seniors are looking for the right lifestyle, and it’s not measured in square feet. They want to be close to family and friends. When they decide to move, it’s because their current home doesn’t fit their present and future plans. They might prefer something newer, with an open floor plan. Perhaps they want to avoid the repair and renovation costs that come with transforming a home into an aging in place type of residence. Many active adults seek a lifestyle where they have fewer worries about taking care of their home.

“Lock and leave is an important feature for today’s active adults,” explains Ed Bacome, co-founder of Epcon Communities, a developer of new home communities that offer single-family homes with exterior maintenance included. “They don’t want to worry about whether their lawn is watered or mowed and if the driveway is being shoveled. They have better things to do with their time.”

One of the other factors in their decision to buy a new home is that they’re ready to spend money on having the home they want, not just the one they need for their family. They want single-level living, with an updated kitchen and master bath. The “nurturing nest” provides comfortable space to use as their own. It might have a bonus room for their hobbies.

Gordon and Lee Powell, moved from a 2,500 square-foot home to a 2,750 square-foot home at The Courtyards at O’Kelly Chapel in Cary, North Carolina.

“We re-sized our life,” says Gordon, a retired marketing professional who uses a portion of the couple’s second-floor bonus suite as a photo studio. His wife uses part of this space for her various crafts.

One-third of the people surveyed said their decision to upsize was to have room for family members to visit. The Powells have two grandchildren who use the second-floor bonus room as their guest suite.

Epcon Communities also incorporates a private courtyard with each single-family home. Homeowners love the tranquility of this outdoor living space, and the connection with nature is proven to add quality to their lives.

As you leave the worlds of parenting and full-time work behind, think about turning your empty nest into the finely feathered one that you deserve. There are hundreds of Epcon Communities located in 19 states. Reward yourself with a stylish new home, low maintenance, the peace of mind of a builder’s warranty, and the social life of an active adult community.