Sandwich Generation: Time to Downsize?

Instead of waiting to sell your house at retirement, it just might pay to make your move now

by Jeff Brown • Next Avenue
for sale image
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

Jeff Brown writes a biweekly blog about the Sandwich Generation and the financial issues its members face as they try to help their parents and their adult children. The blog appears on Next Avenue and on the website of the PBS show, Nightly Business Report. A highly respected financial journalist, Brown brings personal expertise to the subject because he is himself part of the Sandwich Generation.
 
 
Someday soon — college admissions officers willing — the kids will be out of the house and the parents will be left to ask: “What now?”
 
I know all about this. I’m writing from a hotel room on a combination college tour and house hunt. More specifically, I’m indulging a long-held fantasy to scope out acreage in the scenic “Grand Canyon” region of north-central Pennsylvania, where land is cheap, taxes are low and my weekends would no longer be marred by the roar of neighbors’ mowers, blowers and chippers.
 
(MORE: Tips For the Sandwich Generation)
 
With a 17-year-old son headed to college in a year, my wife, Leslie, and I, ages 61 and 55 respectively, don’t have to stay in the suburban Philadelphia house where we’ve lived for nearly two decades.
 
So we’re exploring the notion of downsizing our lives.
 
I’m a freelance writer who can work from anywhere by phone and Internet. Leslie, a newspaper reporter, could do the same sometime soon.
 
In a couple of weeks, we’ll be headed to Florida to scout out a Vero Beach tennis community that might suit us if rural Pennsylvania doesn’t, or if we opt for easier travel to see our parents in the New York City suburbs and in North Carolina, who are getting on.
 
A Difference of Opinion About Moving

Like many couples, we’re not exactly of one mind about moving. I’m itching for change and Leslie still gets plenty of kicks at her current job. But the lure of tennis every day might convince her, even if a Florida move means a smaller place without much of a garden.
 
We haven’t decided what to do, but felt we should seriously inspect our options.
 
Why the hurry to downsize? After all, my wife and I are years from real, 100 percent retirement. For most people, downsizing comes later, when the winters get too harsh, the stairs too steep, the property taxes and home maintenance costs too high and the chores too challenging.
 
That’s exactly why we’re starting our research now.
 
Explore downsizing your home earlier here on Next Avenue

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Photo courtesy of Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock.com

First Published Mon, 2012-08-13 15:05

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