Upside-downsizing: The New Trend in Boomer Housing

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 02 September 2010

Downsizing is a worthy goal pursued by many boomers (who are also, in most cases, empty-nesters) seeking a simpler lifestyle as they approach the retirement years. The downsizing trend seemed to increase in connection with the collapsing real estate market and troubled economy. However, as the Montreal Gazette reports, some boomers are finding that it makes better sense to “upsize” their downsizing plans.

Enter Pam Royl and Ian McArdle, who were ready to leave their large beach home behind and transition into a sleek condo. As they explored the housing market, they found great prices and decided it was a better move to choose a smaller home, with room for grandchildren and adult children to visit comfortably.

And it’s not just about the grandchildren coming to visit. Royl and McArdle affirm that they are not alone in their upsizing plans. The reason? As more and more adult children return to the nest (or never leave it at all) for either short-term or long-term stays, the need for the larger house remains: according to a Canadian report, 44% of young adults (ages 20-29) still live at home.

Calgary-based mortgage broker Karen Blomquist believes that those who hang on to a valuable property – or consider an upgrade – have made a wise move:

“You have to believe the equity will keep going up. And if cash flow gets tight, a lot are doing reverse mortgages, so they can pull out some of that equity to live on in their later years. It’s a nice way to make it all possible.”

Perhaps the rapidly rising long term care/health care costs have something to do with this new trend as well. Aging in place is the most desirable option for just about anyone you ask; rarely does anyone wish to move into a nursing home or even an assisted living community.

Besides, if we have to work longer and later than the generation before, take care of our mother-in-law who can’t live alone, and provide a landing place for your adult children who haven’t quite figured out what’s next, why not have a cozy place to call home?

YOUR TURN: What do you think? Do you see this trend occurring in the United States?

-Michelle Seitzer

There are 2 Comments about this post

  1. Seems to me that, as the Baby Boomers downsize, we’ll have a lot of large houses coming onto the real estate market. This should make for a very soft market for larger homes. This situation will likely last for some two decades. Bill


    on 04 September 2010 / 11:42 AM

  2. Good point, Bill. It will be interesting to see how these trends move forward. Thanks for stopping by the blog!


    on 06 September 2010 / 11:21 PM


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