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September 20 2017

Retirees Increasingly Choosing to Downsize Their Homes

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While a four-bedroom home complete with a recreation room and pool might be just the thing for a young family, for a couple in their 60s whose children have long left the nest, keeping up with a house that large can be an unnecessary burden. A growing number of retirement-age adults in Canada are choosing to downsize to smaller homes. Ottawa home construction firms have been shifting gears to meet the demand for these smaller homes, constructing more townhomes, condos, and bungalows.

Older Canadians have the highest rate of homeownership in the country, with 77 percent of Canadians age 55 to 64 owning their homes. As we age, however, and many become “empty nesters,” when the adult children move out of the home, it can become burdensome to upkeep a large home with unoccupied bedrooms. Not to mention, a larger home bought decades ago can become difficult to maintain and may even become unsafe for older adults. Consider these challenges seniors face in maintaining larger homes:

·             Yard work – While many love to garden, seniors may not be able to handle as much yard work as they could when they were young. Trimming lots of trees and shrubs, digging out flower beds, and fighting the never-ending war against weeds may eventually become too much. Also, operating lawn mowers, weed eaters, and other yard maintenance equipment can become dangerous as seniors age and become less strong and agile.

·             Bills – Maintaining a large home has many costs, including electricity, water, repair and maintenance, and property taxes, among others. For many seniors, the costs of keeping a large home become untenable as they age, eating into savings from pensions and retirement funds.

·             Cleaning – The day-to-day tasks of upkeeping a large home neat and tidy can eventually become too much for seniors, especially those with limited strength or mobility, and even more so when there are stairs in the home. While vacuuming, washing windows, mopping floors, and other basic housekeeping tasks are easy for younger homeowners, they can be exhausting for older people.

·             Time – Many seniors want to spend their time traveling or pursuing hobbies, not mowing an expansive yard or vacuuming unused rooms in their home. By downsizing to a smaller home, seniors can spend less time on the more onerous duties of home-ownership and more time enjoying their retirement.


Finding the Right Home

If you’re ready to downsize, finding the right home is more involved than just finding a home with less square footage. You need to find a residence that fits your budget, needs, preferences, and lifestyle. Some home types that many seniors are choosing to locate to include:

·             Condos – Condos offer maximum convenience and freedom for their owners. Condos are often large, luxurious apartment-like residences located in low-rise buildings. Unlike apartments, condo residents do not rent their homes; they own them. Condos are similar to apartments in that their owners do not handle lawn maintenance or outside work.

Also, monthly fees paid by condo residents go into a reserve fund that handles costs such as window replacement, roofing repair, and similar costs. Condo owners also enjoy greater security than individual homes, with features such as secure entrances and guards.

·             Townhomes – Townhomes are smaller than single family homes and are typically connected to one or two other homes by shared walls. They are common in larger cities where space is at a premium, but more townhomes are being constructed in suburban areas.

Because they’re smaller, townhomes are usually less expensive than traditional single-family homes and have smaller yards. Unlike condos, townhome owners will be responsible for maintenance and upkeep, although some neighborhoods with townhomes have associations that provide yard maintenance. Townhomes are also typically much less expensive than freestanding homes.


Townhomes are great for people who want a smaller home but still want a little yard and don’t want to live in a multifamily building. Townhomes are usually a bit larger than condos, with more space for spare bedrooms and living areas.

·             Bungalows – A bungalow is a one-storey home and may be a cottage or cabin. Bungalows make great homes for seniors who enjoy having guests visit overnight, as they are large enough to offer comfortable accommodations and sufficient space.

Bungalows will have a larger yard than townhomes, and some even have pools or patios for their residents to enjoy. The primary benefit of a bungalow over the home you may be leaving is that the bungalow will be smaller and require less maintenance and care. Bungalows tend to be very cost-efficient, they are less expensive than larger houses to heat and cool, and they typically retain or grow their value after purchase.

Seniors living in the Ottawa area seeking townhomes, bungalows, or condos should consult with Ottawa home construction firms that can help them find the latest developments.

Aging in Place

By relocating to smaller homes that require less upkeep, older adults may be better able to stay in their homes as they age. Aging in place has become a major lifestyle trend among older adults, as staying in their home of choice can have financial and lifestyle benefits for seniors. About 85 percent of Canadians age 55 and older want to stay in their homes for as long as possible as they age, according to an article in the Globe and Mail.

There are a variety of reasons why seniors wish to remain in their homes. Assisted living and nursing home care is often very expensive, and monthly dues quickly eat away at seniors’ savings. While many assisted living facilities and nursing home provide a great environment and exceptional care, for many seniors, there truly is no place like home.

Preparing to Downsize

If you’ve considered the options and decided that moving into a townhome, condo, or bungalow is the right move for you, there are a number of things you need to do to prepare for this change.

·             Get rid of some things – If you’re moving to a smaller home, you’re not going to have as much space. Now is the perfect time to give the kids their keepsakes from childhood, sell off any knick-knacks you won’t be taking with you, and get rid of any other unneeded or unused items. A yard sale provides a great opportunity to unload old items and make a little money.

That said, don’t be overzealous with your decluttering and throw away important documents like birth and marriage certificates, wills, financial documents, etc. or cherished family heirlooms. Take care to go through the items you intend to dispose of or sell to avoid losing something you need.

·             Prepare your current home for sale – You’ll need to sell your current home as quickly as possible to keep it from being a financial burden. Get your home in tip-top shape and then contact a real estate agent to prepare to sell your home.

·             Do the bureaucratic work – Make sure you have all of your bases covered, such as transferring utilities, changing your mailing address, and cancelling services to your old home before moving. Neglecting these tasks can result in a rocky start to the next chapter in your life as you take up residence in your new home.

For seniors looking for new houses in Riverside and other Ottawa area communities, Urbandale Construction can help. Urbandale Construction is an Ottawa-based company that has been in business for more than 35 years, building quality, state-of-the-art homes. Whether you’re looking for a convenient condo, a townhouse, or a bungalow in which to spend your golden years, Urbandale Construction has just the right floor plan for you. Visit today for a consultation and find the home that’s the right fit for you.

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