Moving from the family home you’ve lived in for decades is a huge milestone in anyone’s life.
It’s important to think twice before making such a major lifestyle change. Be sure you’re ready—really ready.
“I find that sometimes I get invited into houses, especially people who’ve lived in their homes a long time, and they think that downsizing or moving from their family home is a great idea,” says Andra Arnold, a top real estate agent in Guelph. “Sometimes, though, it’s not the best.”
As long as you are safe in your home and you’re able to continue to take care of it—and it’s not an issue of affordability or lifestyle—you may want to consider staying.
Families sometimes pressure their loved ones to move from their family home when that’s not actually what the homeowners themselves want or need. When clients have been in their homes for 30 or 40 years, they may not actually want to move into a more restricted space or an environment they’re not used to, a change that can be jarring. “Sometimes it’s more detrimental than staying,” says Arnold.
People don’t always take into account the full costs of moving. “There are health and emotional costs that go with moving from a home that you love,” the real estate agent warns.
Of course, there are financial costs too, as most properties people move into at this stage of life may require monthly maintenance fees.
She isn’t suggesting people should never move from their family home, only that they make sure the timing is right. “Getting ready to sell the house and making things more liveable and easier to manage is very important,” she says.
If you are looking for a lifestyle change and truly want to downsize, she would absolutely recommend making a move. But if it’s just a matter of feeling a little overwhelmed with upkeep, you might be better off simply seeking out resources that can help you take care of your home and property. You can bring in outside services that can help, allowing you to stay in a home that you love. You can also make modifications to your home that will allow you to stay in it longer.
“You can never go back—that’s the thing, it’s so hard,” says Arnold. “You can never turn around and go back, so it’s better to stay and only go when you really want to leave and are fully ready. There’s nothing worse than leaving and then wishing you could go back.”
Arnold speaks from experience. She attends at least three appointments a month where this exact scenario unfolds. She often surprises homeowners by advising them to stay put.
“If you’re moving up and can keep the house you’re in and make that work for you, that’s fantastic.”
Her philosophy even extends to those who are looking to move up the property ladder. “If you’re moving up and can keep the house you’re in and make that work for you, that’s fantastic,” she says.
This happens with younger clients who are moving from their first home to their second. The transition can be a scary one. It’s very difficult to buy back a home once it has been sold; you can’t reverse time, but you can explore all of the options available so that you make an educated decision.
“If you are moving, it’s not always the best idea to sell. Sometimes it’s better for you to keep the real estate, so that you can go back. I don’t want my clients to ever be in an uncomfortable financial position, but if they can continue to live comfortably and be able to carry both properties, they’ll have an investment that pays for itself. Real estate is one of the best investments out there,” says Arnold.
The bottom line is, it costs money to move. If affordability isn’t an issue, then really think hard about why you want to move. If you’re not reliant on the money that’s in your home, you can hire a gardener, a cleaning service, someone to do your snow removal, to wash windows. “You might have done all that work yourself before and now it’s time for you to relax and enjoy your home, to allow someone else to come in and do it for you,” she says.
Do people usually take her advice? About thirty per cent of her clients admit that now is not the right time and end up staying in their homes. Arnold puts them in contact with services that can help make that easier. Many stay in their homes at least an extra five years.
She believes in giving her clients the best advice she possibly can, whether they’re at the end or the beginning of their real estate life cycles.
“Whoever it is that you choose to work with, you want somebody who’s very long-sighted, not short-sighted,” says Arnold. “It should always be about what’s best for you as a client.”
Andra Arnold can be reached at 519-766-6041 or via email at email@example.com.