Baby boomer downsizing and what makes sense

People of all ages are downsizing, but none more than baby boomers. We’ve done the big house, the big garage, the big yard. Now, we want freedom. Peggy Patenaude is a Boston-area realtor who has some brief thoughts about downsizing, and they make sense to us. Maybe they will to you, too. Maybe they’ll even push you to roll with it yourself.

Peggy Patenaude

Lots of baby boomers are downsizing; the children are gone, the future after the careers is ahead. But the thought of downsizing causes many of us to focus on the negative aspects of scaling back. It shouldn’t. Instead of focusing on the fact that you may be faced with lack of storage and overall space, think about the positive parts of downsizing. There are many that far outweigh the drawbacks.

Here are four great reasons why downsizing can lead to a much happier and more active lifestyle:

  1. Reduced Stress Level. Taking care of a smaller space may immediately reduce your stress level. Downsizing significantly decreases the amount of time and energy a homeowner puts into worrying about major home maintenance issues like repairing the roof, patching the driveway, and landscape maintenance. If you are lucky enough to experience an increased cash flow from downsizing, you will also reduce the stress tied to financial concerns. For example, downsizers very often have more money to take the vacations they’ve always wanted to.
  2. Options. If you’re thinking about downsizing, you have a lot of options. Active adult communities are popping up in many places and many have indoor and outdoor pools, exercise rooms, fitness classes, craft rooms, and spaces for impromptu or planned social gatherings. Communities geared toward us tend to have generous outdoor space designated for active lifestyles that include tennis courts, golf, and walking/bicycling trails.
  3. Less Clutter. Many boomers who live in a large home for a long period of time accumulate an overwhelming amount of clutter. Downsizing requires homeowners to take inventory of their possessions and donate or sell anything that isn’t essential or sentimental. Living in a clutter-free home helps downsizers feel much more relaxed. Cleaning out your clutter will also provide more space for things that are important, like a fitness machine, a home theater, or a sewing room.
  4. Less Maintenance. One of the great benefits of having a smaller home is that it means less maintenance. With a larger house, much more time must be spent on interior and exterior maintenance. For downsizers, less space equals less maintenance, thus saving time that would otherwise be spent making repairs. You now are free to enjoy your favorite pastimes and activities.

So, no matter how you downsize or where you go, if you roll with the thought of it, an active and lively lifestyle may be just what you get!


  1. Baby boomer downsizing, certainly very interesing article. However not everyone is in position to downsize, due mainly to their financial cercumstance. Naturally if all offspring have flown the coupe, then its only natural that you downsize and even maintain your life style.

  2. Well, not all Boomers are downsizing with children gone. We find ourselves doing the exact opposite. Our kids came along with my wife in her 40s and me in my 50s. We had a small house at the beach and quickly determined we needed MORE space, so UPSIZED to a much larger house inland. Even our cars got bigger … from two-seater sports car to gas guzzling SUV. I’ll be in my early 70s when we’re finally ready to downsize. Till then, we are enjoying all the extra space, thank you very much. lol

  3. Hi Peggy!

    I agree with you. I will be retired in two years and I have started my downsizing. I sold the villa for a three room flat located in the suburb of a city close to the sea with a mild climate. For two years I used to take public transports. When I will be retired I will sell the car.
    For the two coming years I will get rid of stuff accumulates over years. Childs are far away from home. Now we have to live with stress level reduced. With the downsizing we will have more time for favourite pastimes and for travel. Take the public transports, air transports, if you need a car “rent a car”
    Save time and money for enjoy a downsizing life.

    Best Regards.

    Richard from France

  4. We have been in the downsizing process for more than a year. It takes time – don’t put off thinking about the future with the idea that you can just up and move in a few months! The hardest part is getting rid of things that you think you have treasured – the kids school art work; the items passed down through the family that you don’t really have an attachment to, but, they were from “family” after all. Give yourself time and permission – if you aren’t sure about something, put it in a box with other “unsures” and leave to look at later. I have sold a lot on craigslist and we had a large garage sale. Craigslist is easy; garage sales are a lot of work. We are going to purchase new living room furniture with the proceeds! One last point – get someone else to help you after you have done a lot of initial culling of items – its the remaining things that you are having a hard time letting go of that someone else can make a quick decision on. But, don’t feel compelled to get rid of something to please someone else – please yourself, but be realistic about the space you are going to have available.

  5. We bought a smaller house on a tiny parcel of land. Cleaning out turned out to be a wonderful experience – a cleansing,cathartic, starting over feeling. But it is a lot of work, and seemed to last forever. Stuff accumulates over years – you do not realize how much there is in the old kids’ rooms, basements, garage, etc. Lots of stuff donated. Lots of things went to a consignment shop. It was nice to receive small checks for several months for the items sold! I definitely recommend it.

  6. I understand and it makes perfect sense and for a while that is just what we did, until that is, the grandchildren started popping up. Now, I was told we just had to have more space so that every one could come for a visit at the same time. Go figure.

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