Downsizing -- pros/cons?

We used to laugh about the number of retired couples who “downsized” to a place that ended up being more expensive (though admittedly newer/nicer) AND had extra cost of HOA. However now that we have friends on this sort of journey, we do see how finding the right situation (no stairs, yard care by HOA) could mean ability to defer need someday for pricey assisted living.

Per meeting new friends in a new area, it does seem like a lot depends on the demographic. Our neighbors retired a few years ago to a retirement community in AZ. Almost everybody there was new to the area, very easy to make new friends. Lots of birthday parties, events at the rec center etc.

I prefer the idea of hanging around current community, where I have friends and strong church involvement. It does help that one of our kids is less than an hour away. Certainly I see an advantage of OP’s idea to move to another area while still working, able to plug into a variety of friendships when still fairly young.

I have not downsized (yet) but I have dozens of family members and friends who have.

I think the biggest thing to contend with/understand is that you are not getting a personality transplant along with the move. You are you. Yes, people can change. But if your current social network consists of your book club, a few friends from church/synagogue/prayer circle, and the people you volunteer with at the food pantry- most of whom you’ve know for decades, you have to come to grips with how hard it is (for some people) to establish these connections. If you are moving in conjunction with retirement, that’s two huge adjustments socially. Even if you aren’t close friends with your work colleagues, there’s a level of connectivity there that is not easy to replicate once you stop working.

I think people underestimate this. The rest of it- more housework, less yardwork, hire a cleaner, do it yourself, rent a storage locker close by for the seasonal stuff, do AirBNB when you travel to “self finance” your adventures or just lock up and go- there are pretty much solutions to everything. But if you are someone who cherishes a few close friends close by, and are not the type of person to show up at Yoga and ask “anyone want to go for coffee?”, then moving isn’t going to turn you into that person.

The happiest downsizer I know is also the most social, friendliest, easy-going, happy go lucky friend I have. She loved top notch theater, symphony, opera, a book club, a writing circle (among other activities). She’s ended up in a place with community theater (which she insists is “just as good”), the occasional Pops concert by a visiting conductor and a regional orchestra (she has a subscription and goes to everything), and has found peace with “trading down” her cultural interests (is a booster for her local HS theater department, buys blocks of tickets and invites all her neighbors to “opening night”).

But it’s no surprise that someone who always had a zillion friends has found a way to make another zillion. She never puts on airs, doesn’t remind people (or seem to remember) that when her husband was alive they attended La Scala, and cheerfully makes impromptu dinner parties (now on her deck due to Covid) and invites near strangers.

I admire this- but it’s not me. I’m happy with three friends, cannot fathom attending a HS performance unless my nephew were in the production (and then I’d go happily), and generally duck out of Zumba as soon as the music stops. Not one of the old ladies who hangs around making friends…

So I think reckon with the social issues. The rest of the elements will fall into place.


I do think that social possibilities change radically depending on area. Certain parts of the country, the sorts of communities where folks gather to retire can make friend finding easier, rather than a project. It has been a few decades, but my early RN years were spent working in some of the retirement areas in Arizona. Folks were SO happy, everyone moving to the retirement communities was new and open to making friends, and I see it here in the Midwest when some of those folk are forced to return to their former homes for greater family support when illness strikes. They miss the retirement areas in Texas or Arizona terribly.

At one point D worked AmeriCorps for a land trust in Washington State and I saw that open to new people dynamic in the volunteers who populated the work parties she organized. It made me want to move there and join them!

A close single friend goes to Mexico each winter and stays in a community with expats coming in and out, and though she is outgoing, states her social life is much better there than at home in the US.

I live in a wonderful community and have had the same friends for decades. It is hard for new folks to break in here, as we’re a bit too insular.

Not sure what I will do. I have been retired for 6 weeks, and can see many possibilities but home feels great as well as Covid safe for now.


Agreed, it feels a totally different dynamic, and being single is one reason I am happy to stay put for now.

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And COVID makes it even harder. I am still reluctant to do things inside unmasked- and it is getting cold!

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Thanks for those additional insights! Really helpful.

blossom - interesting about your extroverted friend. Like you, I’m not one to host a ton of parties with a million people. But, I’m wondering if having a smaller circle of friends necessarily makes transitioning to a new place harder? I’ve met a bunch of wonderful people in the past few years through a new book club. Yes, it’s somewhat different than my long-term buddies from when my D was a baby. But as long as you want to meet people (be it a hiking club, book club, professional group, etc.) - isn’t that the key? And, have the health/mobility to do so?

But I 100% agree about the social aspects being central! Those are really the only factors I’ve nailed down about Stage 2:

  1. want to be near my kids (as much as possible, or at a place they’d like to visit regularly!);
  2. want a mixed age community (love seeing the young families with toddlers in our neighborhood - so no go on a 55+);
  3. want to be around at least a percentage of folks who have a similar philosophical/political outlook;
  4. want some access (i.e., not too far) to city/culture and professional job-related opportunities.

Being close to kids may be a moving target. All three of my kids are moving this year, not sure where, and for at least two, the moving may continue for awhile, even in their 30’s.


Same here. Our son is in the military for the next seven years. Though he is rooted in GA for now, there is no telling where he’ll end up, during his commitment or after. He considers AZ home and will always return when he can, so we will maintain a primary home there. But, we are retired and mobile, so we will go to him wherever he is at any given time.


We are retired and plan to downsize next year to a smaller home in another city. This is a city where our oldest child and her husband live and they are settled. Our younger child is only 25 and in grad school so who knows where he will end up? A benefit of this location is that it puts us closer to extended family/friends, and is a place it will be easy to travel from (easily accessible major airport/Amtrak).

There is no 100 percent perfect location, but we feel this is the best location for us.


My husband’s brother and his wife keep trying to live near their three kids but they’re moving targets. One in California, one in Wisconsin, and one in Massachusetts. And they’re all likely to relocate frequently.

We think about moving eventually, or at least spending part of the year elsewhere, but we have to consider our disabled adult son. He’s in supported housing and doing well but he still needs our assistance from time to time. It’s definitely an issue.


I have the same issue, but with two different kids in different places!


We moved 9 times in 11 years after we were married for H’s carrier. D is following a similar path and I can’t imagine relocating to be near her unless she had a c suite level job at a corporate HQ ; ).

At most, maybe a rental if there are grandbabies in the picture some day ; )


I’d love to be closer to my kids, but one is in California (in a town where starter homes seem to start at $2 million!) and the other is in Japan, probably moving on to England in a year. I love my neighborhood, but could see moving north. I have one brother in southern New Hampshire and another just north of Boston.


Good point. When we move near the kids someday, we will have to make new friends. I don’t want the kids to be our only social life.

Church, volunteering, and sports will be my friend-making activities. I will have to make sure I will have those outlets when we move.


We will downsizing and moving ideally sometime next year. We’re currently in 3,800 sq ft, pool, large yard, basketball court in AZ. Both of us want to move where we can live in shades of green as opposed to Sonoran desert browns. Smaller? House yes, but on a little land as we value privacy. We researching locations but have not decided yet. Fun times ahead.


I like your list. Ours includes easy access to a major airport and to excellent medical care.


When my in laws retired, they moved to a remote area. The nearest airport was a three hour drive away. They followed their dream but at the cost of not seeing their kids much and the kids felt the ‘snub?’ too.

Of course, inevitably, when old age set in they had to move to town and then to a town near the kids where someone could look out for them.


I posted about this book on the retirement thread, but I just read a book about happy retirement by Wes Moss. It hits on many of the topics being discussed here and a big, “happiness” factor according to his research is living near to half your kids. As I read that, I absolutely thought about how that could be a moving target. With our only having one there wouldn’t be a choice involved, but ours is currently in California. Can’t imagine ever buying there given the prices for what you get. At 24, it’s too early to know where he will go, but I do wonder if young folks will ever, “settle,” in the way I think of that term. Even after they have kids (if they choose to, and I know of several young folks who think they won’t). Everyone seems far more, “nomadic,” then they did 35 years ago.

Renting where adult kids are seems like it might be a better way to go.


Haven’t done it yet, but definitely thinking about it. We currently live in a large historic home we restored. We have much more space than my spouse and I need as empty nesters, plus much more upkeep than I want to deal with. With the tight housing inventory and absurdly high estimates about possible selling price for our house, we’re starting to think about selling and downsizing to a 3 BR apartment here, then relocate closer to family and friends in retirement in about five or so years. In addition to the advantage of selling at the top of the market, I like the idea of having to cull through our belongings sooner.


Our “kids” are 32 and 34. One is in DC and the other in LA. Both are renters and not sure how long they will stay where they are. Neither has kids and am not sure whether either ever will.

My sibs and mom all live here on Oahu. My BIL and his 2 kids and GD live in SF. I really don’t envision us relocating. Our 3 bedroom 1.5 bath house is 1200 sq ft with great neighbors. We live near enough to good airport and have good set of healthcare providers.

When we bought our place over 30 years ago, H said it was the house he planned to eventually die in. We areNOT very mobile in terms of moving abound a lot. We lived in 2 different apartments earlier in our marriage and then moved into our house.