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What would you want in your "downsized" dream home?

Sueb20
7 years ago

We are starting to think about downsizing. We've lived in our house for 20+ years with 3 kids. Kid #1 has moved out, #2 is in college for one more year, will come home after but probably for only a year or so, and #3 will be off to college in a couple of years. We plan to stay in our town, so if the right house came along next week, we could theoretically move without disrupting DD's remaining high school years. That's not our plan -- we are thinking more like 3-4 years, but the geographic area we've pinpointed is small enough that we'd have to be ready to jump if the right house came on the market.

The area we like is near a small "downtown" area so we'd be able to easily walk to a coffee shop, small grocery, bank, etc. The neighborhood is also more interesting than our current one, architecturally -- our street is all center entrance colonials, yawn, and the "new" neighborhood has a mix of victorians, bungalows, etc. I definitely don't want to move to another center entrance colonial, but I'm also not looking for a one-story ranch (something that would be hard to find in our town anyway).

Im hoping we find a house that needs work, which we would do before moving in. So we could possibly find a house but then spend several months doing renovations before moving in.

Anyway, I'm kinda making my wish list, and wondering what options others may have thought about -- whether you're in the planning stage like I am, or if you've already done it and would like to share your favorite parts of your empty nest (or the things you wished you had but didn't think of before).

For example, I want a screen porch or at least the option to add one. I also want a dining space that's big enough for a large dining table. I want laundry on the first or second floor. But I don't care about a basement playroom anymore, or a really big kitchen. It's a little hard to envision a house that won't feel too big for DH and me day to day, but that can accommodate our kids and their eventual families when they visit.

Thoughts? Advice?

Comments (54)

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I've already downsized from a 3000 sq. ft. house to a 2140 sq.ft. one (there are only two of us), but my situation would not be helpful because it's a one-story ranch, the only kind of house I would ever live in. The house was built in 1980 and so is quite different from the custom-built larger home I lived in before, but it does have some good features. The kitchen is large and off it are two doorways, one leading to a large walk-in pantry and the other to the laundry room. The laundry room also has a door that leads to the outside. The dining room is a good size, with a large window and a French door so there is plenty of light. The house is situated in such a way that in our hot climate there is no large window that brings in burning heat from the outside. There are two good-sized bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom and French doors, and a third bathroom with shower is located not too far from the front entrance. There is an office with a French door which is large enough to also hold a good-sized couch in addition to a large desk and chair. Next to it is the TV room, which could be a third bedroom, which is about 20 feet long and 12 feet wide. It's astonishing that for the square footage every room is large, including the room that you come into from the entrance. It's a very comfortable and livable house and having everything on one floor is a huge advantage to me, especially since I'm not blessed with great energy. We live on almost two hilly acres so we have the luxury of privacy.

  • blfenton
    7 years ago

    Like others I would like the master on the main.Although ours is on the main floor we have a basement entry home so everytime you come into the house you have to walk up stairs to the living space which means lugging groceries etc. upstairs.

    So I would like main floor entry with the master on the main as well as laundry.

    I would like a place close to walking trails or quiet street walking, a place with some architectural definition (we live in a post and beam which I love).

    The problem in our area is that real estate is so very expensive and even those homes defined as for the empty-nesters are expensive.

    What age do you see yourself down-sizing. We're 64, no kids at home, very healthy and we do struggle with that.

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  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    7 years ago

    You're not thinking far enough ahead of time. You have three children. They may or may not settle in your town. If they don't, I assume you would like them to be able to come home with their family and visit. You need rooms you don't always use for this to be possible unless you're fine with them staying in a nearby hotel (some GW members are fine with this - I would not be!). That finished basement playroom? Sure would be nice for grandchildren, whether local or distant.

    My cousin had 4 children. After the last married and left home, they sold their big house and moved to a smaller one. The first Christmas in that smaller house, with family all home, her husband waiting for an hour to get into a bathroom. He said, "Our family is not getting smaller; it's getting bigger!" And with that, they sold the small house and bought a big one again. No regrets.

  • miniscule
    7 years ago

    We have already downsized, from our 4,000 sq ft family home to a bungalow. It has 1,500 sq ft on the main floor with 2 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a gas fireplace (so easy and cosy), a combined cathedral ceiling LR/DR that can accommodate 12 at the dining table (we like to entertain), decent sized eat-in kitchen and laundry room. 950 sq ft of basement are finished with a bedroom, full bath and large living area. This is great for visitors.

    It's on a nice little Court with about 20 similar homes, an in-fill built in 2002. We are the second owners. Our back is private with lots of trees - this was important to me. We do have side neighbours with good separating landscaping but no back neighbours.

    It's pretty good, but I looked a long time and discovered that there are so many trade-offs to be considered, at least in my city. We are quite central, but downtown is a 10-20 minute drive depending on traffic (I can't complain about this). We are reasonably close to health services (10 minutes to the main hospital) and the access roads are good. The kind of shops we can walk to are not particularly interesting but this is fine as long as we can drive.

    I really wanted a one story bungalow where we can age in place. There aren't too many, and of the older ones many have been poorly renovated, have no or a detached garage, and have too many high steps. There are some nicer ones, but they are way out in distant suburbs, which we ruled out, or way too big. We were lucky to find this Court, even though it is not in my favourite district.

    Ideally I would have liked a third bedroom or den on the main floor, and perhaps more closet space. We do have in the basement 2 closets plus a large cedar closet, but I was spoiled before;) The garage was a bit of a disappointment. We had a 3 car garage before with oddles of space. This is an attached 2-car, but it seems over the years that garages have been down-sized and it really is more like 1.5!

    Key considerations for us were that: we didn't want a condo; we still wanted a single home in a central area; and we don't want to move again so the home has to be suitable for advanced age. If you are willing to move again, you might make different choices.


  • hooked123
    7 years ago

    We moved from 5000 sf to 3200 + large screened-in-porch and 1500 sf of outdoor living. NO REGRETS at all!!! I wish we had another bedroom but I am willing to compromise on that. My must haves are: privacy, nice view and outdoor space, open floor plan, well appointed kitchen, and pool. We traded a lot of square footage, and there was an adjustment period, but we love our new home.

  • artemis_ma
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm doing one now, but the kitchen is up-sizing. I've never owned a good kitchen and I love to cook. I also want chickens and to put veggies I grow, up. So, it is more land and with sun. I am putting in a full second bath for guests, but the master bath is probably the same size, just differently shaped so I can have a roll-in shower. (My current half bath is about 3 feet by 5 feet...hard for anyone wide to maneuver around the vanity..)

    To be honest, I'm currently living in a "starter home". I just never moved "up". So I am building to size rooms as I'd prefer to use them. When I bought this house, I could put half down on purchase, I hate owing money. When I bought my land years ago, I bought it outright, and since I had that land, I never felt the urge to upgrade where I was living until I could build the current one, and plan for retirement -- it would be too far to commute to work from, for one. (Two hours? No.)

    But much of the rest I am downsizing on. No den. The TV will be in the living space instead. I am trying to get rid of a lot of my books. I'm finding this tragic, alas...

  • just_terrilynn
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm in my downsize now but there are a few things stopping it from being my dream downsize. One is that after two years I'm still not used to having only 8' ceilings. Eight foot ceilings wouldn't be so bad but when you have an open plan (l like) it is a lot of low ceiling expanse.

    Things I like...I have a small yard but big enough to do some planting, room to run two dogs and little enough that it's inexpensive to have a lawn maintenance company. I have a small patio and pool. If I downsize again Husband wants a community pool. The house is one story which is important. All the homes are different (important to me). At around 2,000 sf under air plus an under roof patio it feels just right, even when we all get together because it's all open plan. If I move I would do a small two story but only if the master were on the main floor. Never thought I'd live in an HOA but it's kind of nice. Our HOA is very very reasonable but only covers the common areas, tennis courts, playground, lake Coppola, decking and entry gates. Lawns are home owners responsibility.

    My favorite thing? Location! I'm close to lots of nice restaurants (within a mile or two), the mall, the beach (biking distance) parks and the expressway. My area is very safe and has wide bike and walking paths. The hospital and any type of doctor or dentist are only eight to ten minutes up the road. I'm also in one of the best school districts in the county so will always have good resale.

  • User
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    We're empty nesters, our house is a two story that's a little over 1700 sf with a partially finished basement and it's been the perfect size for us. The lot is about 3/4 of an acre so there's breathing room in between the neighbors. And with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths the space has easily been able to meet our needs and accomodate guests. Our kitchen isn't super large but it has a great layout that allows for 2 people to cook together. Our dining area is small as well, but that works for us because we don't have a lot of large get togethers.

    What I absolutely love and would look for if we ever moved is our large walk in pantry and the upstairs laundry. The smaller sized kitchen wouldn't be nearly as functional if I had to store our food in it as well, so the pantry makes it all work. And now that I've had the pleasure of having our upstairs laundry, I could never go back to toting dirty clothes down the stairs and clean clothes back up, no no no...if we ever move and end up going into another 2 story, it will HAVE to have an upstairs laundry or at least have the space to build it in.

    What I miss in our home and would prefer to have is a defined foyer space. I think it's more welcoming for guests but it also helps to provide more privacy when the door is open. Now that we're getting older, I think that it would be safer if people at the door couldn't see into our living room. If we ever move that will be a must as well.

  • Fun2BHere
    7 years ago

    We have been looking for a while. The key attributes for us are no stairs, view/location and price. We may have to compromise on view to get the location and price we want. Unfortunately, most houses that I've seen in the area where we would like to buy are partially remodeled with finishes that I do not like and then are priced like they are brand new. Because this is a desirable area, the sellers will probably get close to those prices, but not from us. I would love to live in a community with good walking access to local services, but there are none in my area.

    I think I've said before that what I would really like is the main floor of my current house transferred to a smaller piece of no-maintenance land.

  • tinam61
    7 years ago

    We built our home to be our "forever" home, but who knows? We have lived here about 20 years and right now have no plans to move. Privacy, yard (we have an acre), etc. are important to us. Our backyard is very private. We don't have neighbors on top of us. We have a beautiful mountain view, and that might be hard for us to give up. A sunroom definitely. We started with a screened porch then built a sunroom. It's used daily. We have never wanted a large house - it's always been just the two of us and family are in the area. We have a guest room which we have used maybe two times. Ours is one level with one step out to the patio, two up to the front door and none coming in the garage/side. I learned that from having to get a grandparent (after surgery, could not walk) up steps. We have a basement but it's for storage only. We have a large garage with workroom which is a must for my husband. I wish we had made the laundry and dining room both a little larger (in order to be my "dream" LOL) but it works. We live about 20 minutes from a hospital, but we have an emergency clinic (run by same hospital) and dr's office's nearby. We have never wanted to live in the city - preferring to live out a ways, somewhat rural. Which is one reason why I would never find my perfect dream home - a cottage - would just about have to move to the city.

  • MtnRdRedux
    7 years ago

    What a timely thread. I wasn't really thinking about downsizing until I started to think about moving to Montreal. Our youngest starts high school next year, so we really wouldn't move for 4yrs. But I got DH thinking about downsizing, in the process of convincing him why Montreal made sense. Our primary home has very high property taxes, is 8000 sq feet plus 3 small outbuildings and is very costly to maintain between the indoor pool and the extensive landscaping on 9 acres. It has been fabulous for our family, OTOH, was a labor of love, and my DDs want to marry here under the vine covered pergola (sigh).

    I am attracted to a more urban way of life. The litmus test is can you walk to gourmet market, a non-starbucks coffee house, a farm-to-table restaurant, and an art cinema? If you can we are all in.

    So, if one is downsizing, it makes no sense unless you do so significantly in my book. That means compromise. My dream home has a walled garden. Small, but private and lush and large enough for dining al fresco. It does not have to have a garage, but it does need a side driveway or somesuch. The kitchen needn't be large but it has to be high end; i want to downsize not downscale. I want a separate dining room. I like to entertain, sometimes more formally, so that is a must. The smallest I could do is 3br; i don't want to own a home that all of my kids cannot sleep in. But they can be small, and they can be twin beds, too! 2.5 ba is enough, but the master bath has to be generous and has to have a water closet. Laundry in a closet near the MBR is fine. One living room is fine; don't need a family room and we don't need an office per se. I think 2500-2800 sq ft.

    We often remark that the great majority of the time we use only a small portion of our home. It is wonderful to have the space for events and occasions or just to change it up, but it is not necessary at all. I have also come to really like/prefer "small" rooms. I like the coziness.

    The biggest issues to me are 1)what to do with all my stuff, some of which I dearly love and just won't be able to find a home for by definition and 2) how to accommodate family. Our current thought in re both is to keep our beachhouse . We can store some stuff there if need be (esp if we build the carriage house) and we can store people there too! It is only an hour North of Boston so likely to be a doable distance if our kids stay in New England. If you are looking at things the same way, i think it allows you to be more selfish/radical about your new nest.

    I think it is so hard to plan beyond that. Who knows where any of them might end up living? Who knows if and when and where there will be grands? I think you need to decide for yourself, and then be nimble as things might change.

    Since we, at least initially, plan to keep Maine as the "homestead", repository of excess prized possessions, and flophouse for n'er do wells, we are pretty open about where we might look. We have started to contemplate the snowbird life, assuming we do not decide to run over the border as soon as the nest clears out (which I am preparing for but put a low probability on). I may start a separate thread on snowbird-ing.


  • nosoccermom
    7 years ago

    Location: I want to be able to easily walk to good restaurants, library, coffee shops, food store, a bakery, movie theater, post office, doctor's offices, hair dresser, public transportation to access theater, museums, etc.

    I'm not planning for however many grand kids, who may not materialize and if they do, show up twice a year. So, yes, let them stay in a hotel :)

    I want quality materials over a huge place. I want doors that are solid, great sound proofing throughout, a master on the first floor. High ceilings, some character. I don't want a huge lot, a small walled in garden would be perfect.

    Hehe, looks like I have to move to Europe.

  • ladypat1
    7 years ago

    I would want a master bedroom on a main floor, and no stairs to enter home. Laundry on main floor. That way if you really liked it, you could stay there the rest of your days, as you age.


  • User
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    No stairs; room for family or friends to stay; ability to seat 8 for dinner or serve 16-20 informally (and a kitchen that lends itself to providing said dinners); security; access to cultural venues and good healthcare; garage and laundry; and easy commute to friends and family.

  • hamamelis
    7 years ago

    One spacious mostly introverted multifunction living room, one large room that would make the whole house feel larger than it is. We're in a hot climate, so it should feel cool in hot weather and cozy in cold, not too many windows but enough on at least two sides that it has nice views out to the life of the neighborhood and garden while still being easy to cool and warm. It would have built-in bookcases for plenty of books and a drop-leaf dining table for 2 usually, with a view of the TV, but room to set up dining for the rare need of sitting up to 16 guests at 2 tables.

    A small sunroom/sitting room off the kitchen on south side of house, such as an enclosed porch (so no matter where you sit, you're very close to the outdoors), with door and views out to garden and other views at least 2 sides.

    A good, old-fashioned kitchen with table in the middle, good storage, good relation to other spaces without being on view, but need not be large. Interesting view from windows.

    A circular floor plan for the living areas, with preferably only the bedrooms being complete dead end and on their own hall to make house feel larger as one walks down it. Or one or two extra bedrooms could be upstairs.

    Smallish master, 13x13 fine, not bigger than about 15x15, with smallish bath with large shower. One full-time guest bedroom, a second bedroom to serve as my husband's away room.

    A powder room. Laundry room would be nice, but stacked in closet will do. Mostly adequate storage (by today's standards) only, not so much as to encourage accumulation.

    Very good relationship of house to garden and sunshine. A couple of porches that would allow doors to remain open, and to sit on, even when raining hard. Good roof overhangs so windows could be left open in most rains, plus to help block some of the high sun (we're in hot climates). One screened.

    Detached garage, possibly connected to house with breezeway/porch.

    We could fit all the heated space into 1700 square feet. Not small for two people, but significantly smaller than now.



  • just_terrilynn
    7 years ago

    Hama, you reminded me of an old dream of mine...a kitchen with a table in the middle. I grew up with that. My grandmother had a great old fashioned kitchen with a big family table right in the middle.

  • Sueb20
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Anglo., actually I am thinking that far ahead, which is why I think we would still want a house with at least 3 bedrooms. (And we also have a beach house that is actually better set up for overnight guests than our main house is, and we will eventually be spending at least 4 months/year there.) However, the house we have now has 4 floors of living space -- finished attic bedroom, 4 bedrooms and 2 baths on 2nd floor, 4 rooms plus 1/2 bath and porch on main floor, and 2 large finished rooms and laundry in basement. So, we would most likely end up with a house similar in size on the 1st/2nd floor to what we have now, but minus the finished attic and large finished basement.

    I want an informal, good sized living room with comfy seating and tv, and a library/den with a wall of bookshelves and cozy reading chairs. Kitchen could be open to dining or could have a separate dining room, I don't care. I'd want the main floor to be set up well for entertaining. I'd like a good sized master bedroom and bath, but the other bedrooms can be fairly small. Definitely a garage. I don't care about privacy/big yard...our next door neighbors are about an inch away from us now so we are used to it. We have a small back yard, but it is completely surrounded by tall hemlocks so we literally can't see the houses behind us -- I would definitely miss that if the next house wasn't as "protected" in back.

    nosoccer, I too have thought about quality vs quantity. I want to be sure that we pay close attention to the details like nice doors/hardware, high quality kitchen and bath materials, etc. Oh, and great lighting.

    It is fun and interesting to read everyone's views -- I'm taking notes! I hadn't thought about a main floor bedroom. It obviously makes sense but it's not something I see much in our town. Thanks for all the input!

  • just_terrilynn
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    What about vaulted, beamed or cathedral ceilings Sue? Now that I only have 8' ceilings in my otherwise nice downsize I'm becoming obsessed with high ceilings.

    A girl can dream.

  • roarah
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    As long as I am living in a house I actually want to always have a second story master. Stairs are proven to be of more benefit to seniors than not. I am years away from an empty nest but when it happens I want to downsize to a large sail boat while I am active and after that I think a two story house on the water in a quaint walkable village. I am happy to sponsor family visits in destination rentals to host returning children and grands or to visit their homes so more than one extra bedroom is not essential to my plans but I do want the option to have occasional friends stay so one extra suite or berth would be nice in both my boat and future house.

  • maire_cate
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Sueb
    -I think we're a good bit older than you. We'll be moving into our
    downsized dream home in a few months - right after our contractor
    'dreams it up' for us.

    We purchased our current home 34 years ago
    and have done extensive work to create our family dream home. It was a
    typical 4 bedroom 2 1/2 center hall colonial on an oversize lot in a
    fantastic school district We had looked at comparable homes in various
    school districts around the Philadelphia area and chose this one because
    of the proximity to center city and DH's work. We knew when we
    purchased it that we would add on and we built a 1000 square foot
    addition with a first floor study and bath and on the second floor added
    a 5th bedroom with a private bath. We knew there was a strong
    possibility that one or more of our parents might have to live with us
    at some point.

    All three kids are in their 30's now and live in
    Philly about 20 minutes from here. Two own their own homes and the third
    will be buying soon. It's time to pass this home along to another
    family and move into something more suitable for the two of us.

    At
    first we thought about buying or building a rancher in our town or
    joining all the other empty nesters who have moved into the city. That
    appealed to me but DH would have been content to move to our vacation
    home in the middle of the woods in upstate PA. As we discussed our
    options and looked around at various properties our thoughts began to
    shift in a different direction - one we had never even considered before
    - an over 55 community.

    DH thought about it for a long time, he
    has some physical limitations that have progressed and one day he
    finally decided that this would be the best option for us. He is close to 70 and and odds are one of us will outlive the other and will be able
    to age in place with some light modifications.

    The place we
    selected is only 8 miles from this home. It's a few years old, about
    2400 square feet - the first floor has the master bedroom and bath, a
    guest room, bath, great room with living room and dining room, a
    large eat -in kitchen that's open to the family room, laundry and 2 car garage. The second floor has a
    third bedroom, bath and loft that's open to the family room. It does have 9' ceilings and 2 of the rooms have vaulted ceilings.

    We chose
    one of the homes in the back of the community on a bend in the street so
    that we'd have a larger rear yard and more space between the
    homes - and it's more private because it backs up to a wooded
    area.

    These homes rarely hit the multi-list, they usually sell by word of mouth which is how we found our home. There are several over 55 developments under construction in this county, but they are in slightly more rural areas and we didn't want to move further away from the city or our kids.

    The community has a clubhouse, exercise room, library, pool,
    tennis courts, bocce courts and walking paths and like most over 55
    developments there are numerous activities and day trips. The location
    is perfect - we're still close to the kids and the city. A few friends from my water aerobics class have lived there for a few years and introduced me to the community.

    Before we
    move in we're gutting the kitchen, removing a wall, installing new
    hardwood floors and re-doing 3 bathrooms. We've selected Rutt cabinets
    and high end appliances and we're ordering some new furniture.

    It's
    large enough that all 3 kids (and spouses) could visit and stay if they
    wanted - although that's not very likely since they all live so close -
    but hopefully one day we'll have grandkids who can have a sleepover at
    Grandmom's.

    At dinner tonight we were discussing the upcoming move
    and I think the only thing we know we'll miss is our yard and the accompanying total privacy. One of the things that appeals to DH is the savings we will realize - our taxes will be about 1/3 of what they are now, utilities will be lower, we won't have to deal with yard maintenance or snow removal or dealing with our pool.

    We also checked the HOA rules to make sure there weren't too onerous.
    We both know
    that this is the right move for us at this time and the best part is that DH has now
    fully embraced the change.

    Maire

  • eld6161
    7 years ago

    I must say, you are living the dream! Sounds so perfect all around.

  • mojomom
    7 years ago

    Thank you eld6161! We are very excited about the house, but much more excited about the baby! We had almost given up on the possibility of a grandchild until he surprised us all.

    i hope I didn't highjack the thread too much. I think the point of my comment, is that in planning your downsize/retirement/empty nester home:

    * Take your time and really think about what works for YOU;

    * Consider location in terms of convenience as we age;

    * Main level living for day to day living, with peripheral areas on other floors is worth considering;

    * Think creatively and boldly for your own circumstances; and

    * if you are building the dream, a good architect who isn't afraid of a challenge is invaluable.

    One more point: While resale value was low on our list, hopefully it will be the kids' problem down the road, our architect was instrumental in making sure the design did not sacrifice resale value. The basements can be finished to make each a 4-5 bedroom unit and all we would have to do would be to close off the interior connections to have the duplex legally divided into townhome units, that could be sold separately. This type of townhome is pretty popular in the area, especially with second homeowners. Our neighborhood is about 60/40 primary homes/second homes and does not allow nightly rentals (also a consideration in a resort/tourist destination.

  • Nothing Left to Say
    7 years ago

    We are a very long way off from kids leaving home.But I told dh that if we retire in a place that attracts visitors we should build a small main house for us and two tiny houses that the kids can use when they visit and we can rent out on Airbnb the rest of the time.


    That way we wouldn't have all that wasted space and a little income coming in plus visitors from all over--sort of like owning a bnb but less work because we wouldn't feed them. Probably all sorts of problems with that plan I haven't thought of because it's not a serious one at the moment, but it's a different spin on downsizing anyway.

  • 3katz4me
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Well we didn't down size but we got our dream homes for the rest of our life. We bought a different primary residence and weekend/retirement lake home in 2015. In both cases we made the choices based on the idea that these are the last homes we're going to have until we have to go to assisted living or the crematorium. We didn't downsize as we want space for our current and hopefully years to come lifestyle. We just wanted different space more conducive to aging. We are both just turning 60.

    Location was of course the first decision. After that the critical factors for us were privacy of the setting and all rooms required for day to day living on the main floor. We don't have kids but we wanted enough bedrooms for guests at both places, especially the lake. I also wanted attached garage as it's precarious in the winter with ice and snow. (FIL died after slipping on ice going from garage to house.) Beyond that it was just a matter of what homes made me say "this is it" when I walked in.

    Our primary home is a detached town home (aka villa home) strategically located on a golf course. I wanted a nice view out the back and to not be looking right into other houses or others looking right at me. The design of this home is perfect for us. Open concept with high and vaulted ceilings but not extreme. One large open dining space, nice efficient open kitchen, living area, study, master suite, laundry and powder room on main floor. All the living areas have beautiful views. Other than the master bedroom none of the spaces are particularly large and the layout is very efficient. On the lower walkout level we have same great views and another living area with gas fireplace, TV, bar, two guest rooms, guest bath and storage. I could live without the bar but it's been useful for entertaining. I could also live without the second guest room but we have used it a few times so nice to have.

    Our second home is similar though it's a completely private setting in the woods on a lake with beautiful views. It has just the master suite on main - no other bedrooms or study - but has open living, one dining space, kitchen, powder room and laundry and my much loved screen porch. We're in the process of replacing inefficient wood burning fireplace in LR with gas. There is an upper level with a small loft sitting area and two guest rooms and guest bath. There's also a large walkout lower level that we could live without except for two guest rooms and bath that get used when we have a lot of guests.

    So no downsizing here but change that accommodates more main level living as we age and homes and settings that we truly love and enjoy. When we were looking at town homes I did find that in the communities with no stairs the average age demographic seemed to be about 30 years older than communities with a flight of stairs. That was a factor for us as we wanted neighbors who would potentially be interested in similar activities to us. In both cases we ended up with great neighbors which was important but hard to predict.

  • robo (z6a)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    We are thinking of downsizing for a different reason, which is that when we moved into our 2000 up, 2700 total sf we had been planning on starting a family with 2 to 3 children. Biology unfortunately got in the way and now we're looking at 0 to 1 children. We also have a vacation home now that is taking a lot of our entertaining and hosting duties away from Our city home. As a result we have two completely unused bedrooms and the rest of the spaces are underutilized as well.

    if houses in your area have basements I think a great way to downsize is to plan guest quarters in the basement.

    My checklist is as follows, you may think that it is fairly modest but there are very few houses in the downtown area of my city that meet these criteria or could be renovated to meet these criteria in our budget:

    Single attached or detached garage

    Sunny kitchen that faces the backyard,

    sunny backyard that is easily accessible from main floor

    three bed, two bath

    ample closet space in the master or an extra bedroom that could be turned into a closet/en suite

    master ensuite preferred

    Open or semi open plan

    efficient to heat



  • jakabedy
    7 years ago

    Our last home in Alabama and our current home in New Mexico were both purchased with an eye toward aging in place. One-level living with minimal steps/level changes on the outside. Ours is a typical ca. 1960 3/1.75 1,300 square foot bungalow/ranch plan. It also has an attached 1-car garage that has been finished to be the laundry room in the rear and DH's office/room-of-piles in the front, about 300 square feet total. There is no direct access from the house to the garage,which has its own separate entrance off the front porch and from the back patio.

    The current house works very well for DH and me, but when visitors come, we learn of the shortcomings. We really need:

    1) A larger master bath (current is 5' x 10' and is pretty much DH's bathroom, while I use the hall bath. This is problematic when we have visitors, although I keep my "stuff" on a rolling cart that I roll into our bedroom for those occasions).

    2) A larger master closet. All closets are reach-in. DH and I each have some things in the master closet, but the bulk of my clothes are in the guest closet, with DH's in a hall closet and a small closet in the tiny third bedroom (my office). Again, super problematic when we have visitors.

    3) More privacy, either by having more land with more distant neighbors, or less land with higher walls. One next-door neighbor built up with his home, so his master bedroom overlooks our LR and the two spare bedrooms. The other next-door neighbor has a mirror image of our home, so our rear patios are close to one another - not optimal.

    4) Dedicated instrument storage. Clearly, this isn't an issue for everyone. But we're musicians and have a lot of instruments. Ideally we'd have a music room/office that has a large closet with shelving appropriate for all the horns and accoutrements. Bonus points if this room has easy access to vehicles, for loading and unloading.

    5) Not visitor related, but aging related: it would be very difficult to retrofit our baths for wheelchairs or other mobility issues. We knew this going in.

    IDEAL PLAN:

    Buy a place closer in to town were we can have a separate casita/unit that can serve as a short-term rental for tourists, but as our guest room when we need it. Why have that empty guest room sitting there when it can generate income! This will mean a smaller lot, so nice high walls and neat contained hardscaping and landscaping. A nice MBR for us, and another multi-purpose room for office/music/daybed for overflow guests. Unfortunately, I'm going to need to win the lottery in order for this to happen.

    We'd also want to keep everything on one floor. We're in that tween stage, where we have parents in their 70s-80s who need main floor accommodations, as well as kids/siblings with toddlers/babies who are also better in main-floor rooms. A master upstairs is fine, but may not be long-term, so we'd rather just not have an upstairs (or basement).

  • nickel_kg
    7 years ago

    I can relate. DH and I recently retired, moved, and downsized. We're still in our 50's, active and healthy. One child who has already left the nest. We had been planning for ages to retire as soon as possible. Decided on a town location because it was walking distance to many pleasant activities. Five years out, we started looking at real estate on line. Two years out, in a mostly 1940s/50s neighborhood, we found the perfect house and bought it while it was being renovated. It's 1512 sf.

    Our previous home was over 3,500 sf -- tall ceilings, huge kitchen, generous sized bedrooms, bathrooms, storage galore. So yes, we downsized furniture and stuff, as people do. What surprised me:

    - I didn't miss my huge kitchen that could fit 20 people. Accommodating 2 cooks is enough. Professional kitchen designer helped immensely. I still have my "baking corner". And my "chocolate drawer." Yay!

    - I miss my old walk-in pantry. Here, we have floor to ceiling shelves along one wall of our dining room. Still enough room for a table but doesn't look as elegant.

    - Don't miss my old large master bath, mostly because it felt cold 10 months out of the year. Our new main bathroom is much smaller but feels warm in winter, without breaking the budget.

    - Don't miss our old heating and cooling bills. Smaller = much, much better.

    - Do very much miss my big old yard and garden. Our old house was on 4 acres, in a largely rural community. Living in a town neighborhood, I feel impoverished when it comes to birds, plants, butterflies, nature in general. I'm planting natives but know I'll never have the variety of wildlife I used to so enjoy. That was a trade-off for being able to walk to town places.

    - Our dogs love living in town. Our backyard is big enough for frisbee. They like people-watching. Sirens don't bother them.

    My advice -- 1. consider what keeps you active. Walking? Gardening? Gym? Volunteering? Mountain biking? Golfing? Kayaking? whatever it is, position yourself to make keeping physically active fun and easy to get to. 2. consider where your health care facilities are. 3. don't feel guilty if the whole family doesn't have living quarters in your house. Keep your grandkids and treat your kids to a night off from parenting :-)


  • lizzierobin
    7 years ago

    For downsizing, #1 would be a home with no exterior maintenance (brick/stucco). A small but private yard with a patio or screened in porch, 1st floor laundry and living spaces. Handicap accessible bathrooms/showers and doorways to accommodate a wheelchair (just in case something happens to our health), and as many have mentioned, walking distance from shops, restaurants, grocery...etc. Definitely two full bathrooms, especially when you have overnight guests. We are 9 years out from retiring, would enjoy a smaller footprint, less house and yard work, and definitely less taxes!

  • Annette Holbrook(z7a)
    7 years ago

    We are in the midst of this right now. We are about to list our 4500sf house on 12 acres. We've already bought the new home in the mountains. Main house is 2000sf, but there is a detached 2 car garage with a 900sf loft apartment.

    What we wanted,

    1. Mountains(for hiking, fishing, mountain biking)

    2.Decent restaurants and shopping nearby, the town of Blue Ridge is 9 minutes away, great little town for bringing guests.

    3. Log cabin, time for something different than our beloved Dutch colonial.

    4. Access to international airport. Atlanta airport is close enough.


    The new place has a much smaller kitchen, which I was really bummed about. But after having living with it for a while we now love it. So much easier to work in, and keep clean. I'm downsizing kitchen stuff and realize I don't need and rarely used quite a bit.


  • graywings123
    7 years ago

    Most of you have probably heard about the Not So Big House series of books by Sarah Susanka, but I am linking to her website for those who have not:

    Not so big house

    I used to think that a first floor master was essential, but at age 65, I find that stair climbing is surprisingly healthy for me. You can install a chairlift for about $2K when and if the time comes.

  • hhireno
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Jakebedy, these two statements almost seem at odds with each other:

    More privacy, either by having more land with more distant neighbors, or less land with higher walls.

    Buy a place closer in to town were we can have a separate casita/unit that can serve as a short-term rental for tourists...

    Are you sure you'll be comfortable with strangers in your backyard?

    eta: Forgot to say what an interesting thread this is, with so many good ideas.

  • Sueb20
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Annette, I like your point about something different architecturally. One of my rules for the next house is no center-entrance colonial! We've lived in one for 20 years and I want something different.

    graywings -- I have all of Susanka's books! I should pull them out again and read through them. I didn't want to argue with anyone re the first floor master, but in my town, I doubt we will find that, and I don't think that option will be anywhere near the top of our list. My dad is 82 and still has his bedroom on the 2nd floor AND there is no bathroom on the main floor of his house (stupid design, but he's lived with it for 40 years).

    I do appreciate everyone's comments but can't respond to each individually!

  • OutsidePlaying
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    There is a lot of great information here.

    Sueb, your situation is probably a little different from ours, but the common thread here seems to be location. Isn't that true with almost all real estate though? Do you have thoughts about moving again when all your children are out of college?

    Even though we have no immediate plans to move, our next planned move will either be back to town or to assisted living. We built our current home planning to be in it for the long haul - single story, wide hallways & doorways to accommodate a wheelchair if needed, large entry shower in our bathroom. We are in great health and now that we've been here 17 years, we occasionally get the urge to be back in town and do away with the drive, even though it's only 30 minutes. I could look into the future and almost write what nickel_kg wrote (except I think we'd have to have bigger than 1500 sq ft!).

    Important to me would be an outside space for a garden, nice amenities in a kitchen, a fairly spacious bath. I'm thinking now of converting one of our bedrooms to a workout space. Now that our grandkids are older, we really don't need 2 guest rooms, and it seems like we would better use the space as something else than a bedroom.

    We love our outdoor, natural setting where we can't see or hear our neighbors. It is so quiet. I can't imagine moving back to a neighborhood with barking dogs, cats roaming, and cars up and down the street all night.

    Edited to add: I do not like two-story houses. We had a short-term rental of a two-story once when we were between houses and I absolutely hated it. I also meant to say a garage is mandatory. Strongly prefer a pantry rather than just depend on cabinet storage. I like having a walk-in so I can look organize the shelves and have a spot for large appliances and things I don't use often.

  • tinam61
    7 years ago

    Someone mentioned pantry - and I wanted to add that I could not (would not want to) do without our pantry or our garage/workshop area. This is our third house and we have always had a garage and kept our vehicles (and in this house - boat) inside. In our neighborhood, people do not park on the street - which I love!

    Interesting how things are different in different areas. I know not all areas have garages, or basements. I'm assuming most areas have attics though. We have all three here and many houses here do. Interesting that main floor bedrooms are hard to find in your area Sue, but here the are very common, and I would guess even preferred. (Privacy when you have children and ease in older age.) Good that you are planning ahead of time. Hopefully the perfect house will come along!

  • writersblock (9b/10a)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm assuming most areas have attics though.

    Yes, but in FL, for instance, the attic gets so hot that it severely limits what can be stored there. And in houses built here since the 50s the attic is usually just a crawlspace.

    ETA My building is poured concrete. No attic at all, not even a cockloft up there. But then, this isn't my ideal home, either.

  • Sueb20
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    outside, I would not want to move again (after this move) unless I had to go to assisted living or something. By the time we do move, most likely #2 kid will be out of college (he graduates next spring) and #3 (youngest) will either be in college or close to it. I would still like to have at least 2 "kids' bedrooms" and maybe one guest room, so still we are talking about a 4 bedroom house. But the bedrooms could be smallish and I don't feel the need to have a huge master, which we have now...though I DO want a master bath.

    I actually am hoping to find a house with good bones/layout but that needs work, so we can do over, say, the kitchen and baths, before we move in. I'd rather have to re-do the kitchen than live with a newer kitchen that was done to someone else's taste.

    The majority of homes in our town were built in the 1920s and most of those are colonials with the typical front-to-back living room on one side of the foyer, dining room on the other, a sunroom/den off the living room, and a kitchen and 1/2 bath. There are tudors and capes sprinkled around town, too, but their layouts also don't include first floor bedrooms, at least not the ones I've been in. There is one area of town with some ranches and newer homes, but that's not the neighborhood we're targeting.

    Right now in our house we have a lot of wasted space in the attic (finished) and basement (also finished). We also live very close to an elementary school and while my kids were young, I kind of liked being able to hear the kids playing at recess. These days, it's not always so appealing! The good thing is that our house has been well tended and is in a prime location, so it will sell quickly at a price that would be at least 3x (possibly 4x) what we paid 20 years ago. The issue will be finding the next house that accommodates my very long wish list! I have a realtor friend who is keeping her eyes open, but fortunately we are not in any rush. I would actually have no problem moving soon if the right house came up, but DH will need a little convincing. He's not quite ready.

  • tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM
    7 years ago

    Most of my desires for a downsized home have been covered. If I found myself in your situation in an area with multi-story homes, I would want a toilet and shower on every floor. I think stairs do have the potential to be beneficial to those aging, but if I were to find myself recovering from knee surgery or something where I would be recuperating on the main floor, I think a toilet and shower would be essential. In that same vein, an area downstairs that could be easily converted to a sick room would also be good, say a sleeper sofa in the library.

  • sarah_socal
    7 years ago

    Wow! I am impressed with how thorough and organized you all are. DH and I were not when we downsized a few years ago.

    After a series of moves into bigger and bigger homes, a few years ago we looked at each other and asked ourselves "Why in the world do we need a 4500 square foot house for just two of us?" We decided rather spur of the moment to sell and downsize. Our only real goal was to be somewhere where we could walk places like restaurants etc. Other than that, we figured we would know it when we saw it.

    Ultimately we ended up in a condo. We did have a false start when we first bought a 1750 square foot one. We lived there for a year or so and realized that for a variety of reasons that particular unit was just not quite right. We loved the new lifestyle, complex, location - just not that unit. So we sold it and bought the unit 2 doors down. We couldn't be happier.

    I totally get the idea of having a wish list. But I must admit that things that concerned me at the time have not been an issue at all.

    - We didn't really want a condo - turns out we love it. It is sooo easy!

    - I wasn't crazy about losing our yard and being limited to container planting. Turns out that the containers are enough (at least thus far).

    - DH lost his garage. Again, thought it would be an issue but it hasn't been.

    I could go on and on. My point is that things you want/need could end up being non-issues so I encourage flexibility. The funny thing is that the things that made us not love our first attempt were not even on our radar when we were shopping. Our "list" (had we had one) would have been pretty useless.

  • Gooster
    7 years ago

    What a great thread. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the responses.

    To me, location and neighborhood are key. Easy (and walking) access to very good restaurants, cafes, social networks, and gourmet markets. Nice, friendly, diverse neighbors without a large crime problem where a senior could walk at night. Access to health care, well-connected airports, and reasonably close to outdoor recreation and major entertainment options. No Arctic blizzards but great views would be perfect.

    With the home, it has to have a decent eat in kitchen with pantry, additional dining room, an outdoor courtyard/garden, and preferably a casita. The main house would have a master with dual baths/walkins, laundry on the same floor (no hauling baskets up stairs) and a separate office but one family room is OK. Good quality materials and finishes.

    Our current main home is pretty close except for the views, second MB and casita. Specialty market, bakers, ice cream shop, cafe, deli, restaurants, farmers market, art house film theatre, etc are all within walking distance. A short drive/bike ride/tram ride brings everything else. It's why we never moved to larger place to begin with. At one point I was certain this would be sold first -- now it seems the least likely. And being in California, it is better to own a long time than try to buy new into this crazy market.

    Instead we have a loft in the City, within blocks of a ML ballpark, best-in-class retail and two 3* Michelin restaurants (among others). But will it be a keeper for retirement? We're not certain. At some point, you'd like to have access to other like-minded people in the same phase of life, vs. youth still chasing the gold at the end of the rainbow. We also just bought an even smaller apartment on the French Riviera. Will it be the right place for part of the year in retirement? We will see -- at some point, we may trade it in for the country cottage a little more inland.

  • joaniepoanie
    7 years ago

    Like Maire_Cate we will most likely move to an over 55 community, but in another state, within the next 2-3 years. We are just starting to scout out different areas.

    As far as the house goes, one level and no basement. I have a smallish galley kitchen now so I'd like to have more cabinets and counter space. A pantry would be great. This is hard to find, but I'd like the master suite to be away from the main living area. Many plans have it right next to the great room and kitchen so forget about sleeping if your spouse is watching TV or busy in the kitchen. Three bedrooms, 2-21/2 baths. Attached garage. I wouldn't mind a pool but DH doesn't want to be bothered and I would want it to be totally private...no neighbors who could see...so probably won't happen. Lots of light in the living areas, my current house is on the dark side. A nice view. We back to woods which is nice but it could also be a pond, golf course, etc. 9' or vaulted ceilings, at least in the main living areas. An extra large patio so DH has room for his container gardening hobby. And I'd definitely want better cabinetry and finishes....no builder grade junk.....I lived with it long enough in this house when the kids were growing up and $ was tight. I won't go back...lol.


  • jakabedy
    7 years ago

    hhireno,

    You noted the conflict in two items on my wish list -- I don't disagree that it reads that way:

    More privacy, either by having more land with more distant neighbors, or less land with higher walls.

    Buy a place closer in to town were we can have a separate casita/unit that can serve as a short-term rental for tourists...

    Are you sure you'll be comfortable with strangers in your backyard?

    _________________

    It would have to be just the right setup. There was a house on the market last summer that we really should have bought, but other things were conspiring to keep us out of the market at that time. The guest unit was actually attached to the main house, but each unit had its own walled front garden and entry and separate driveway/parking. The backyards adjoined, but we would have built another nice wall to provide a better buffer than the fence that was there at the time.

    I think there's probably just a psychological difference (for me) between rental guests that I would invite onto my own property vs. neighbors over whom I have no control.

  • hhireno
    7 years ago

    jakabedy, I'm relieved to see you are aware of the potential conflict and will act accordingly. Good luck, I hope the perfect set-up becomes available when you're ready for it.

    Another somewhat interesting thing I notice is many of us don't want stairs but want to be within walking distance to restaurants, etc. If you hit any stairs on your way to dinner, you'll be out of practice for taking the stairs and you'll arrive winded and creaking.

  • writersblock (9b/10a)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    If you hit any stairs on your way to dinner,

    Well, I live in a part of the world where that definitely is not a problem, so I'm okay there.

    I currently live in a townhouse development where all the units have two stories and what I see here is a whole lot of folks who think along the lines of "stairs are healthy" when they move here in their fifties and sixties, but who leave at eighty although they are otherwise in great shape because the stairs have become too onerous for them.

    ETA And despite being up and down the stairs here a dozen times or more every day, I have to say that after five or six days in Paris I will still walk a couple of extra miles to avoid those stairs in the metro.

  • LynnNM
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    DH and I are also thinking about downsizing someday, now that we're empty nesters. Our home, while not huge at 3200 sf, is still very labor intensive with its all-brick floors, all adobe walls, 4 patios, 4 fireplaces, a 300-foot long (gravel, curvy, up and down through the trees) driveway, and several acres of land, in the mountains, achieved through a mountain pass that can get very icy during Winters, and at least 20 minutes from most stores. The realities of what we ideally would like versus what we may need is a real wakeup.

    When my parents originally downsized from our family home with bedrooms enough for nine kids, they bought a Winter home north of Tampa with 2 bedrooms and one bath. It seemed ultimately practical to them at the time, as my parents were very athletic and Mom was looking forward to not having a large home to clean for the first time is many, many years. But, the reality of it was sadly different. It made it very difficult for any of us with kids to visit them comfortably. At the same time, they also had a Summer place up on Lake Huron in Michigan. That, too, was small, and made visiting difficult. So, the sad reality was that the first 20 years of their retirement were spent pretty much alone, as all of their children lived in Michigan (6), Atlanta (1), Colorado (1) or New Mexico (1). We all had small kids and many of my siblings did not have the funds to put their families up in a hotel for a week, along with the airfare for them all. Mom's health took a bad turn, they sold their Florida home and moved in with my one sister and BIL's large two story home in Atlanta. But, Sis immediately had to have a stair climber put it, as stairs were too difficult for Mom . . . and eventually Dad, as well. When Mom's health progressed to a point where my sis could no longer take care of her, less than two years later, (Mom had Progressive Supranuclear Palsy), we again moved them, this time into a senior living apartment back in Michigan near the majority of their now-adult kids. This was good because it had round-the-clock staff to call if needed. It was also designed for seniors, being a one-story apartment with any tripping hazards eliminated, a walk-in shower with a seat, call buttons, wide doorways to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs, etc.

    So, what kind of retirement home do I see us downsizing into? Somewhere close to at least one of our kids and their family. In a community designed for retirees. 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Hopefully wide doorways, etc. just in case, God forbid, we ever need them ourselves! A gourmet kitchen, but it doesn't have to be a large one. Open concept. a great room, instead of our now separate family room, living room and dining rooms. A walled backyard for privacy . . . and this may be our biggest compromise. Having lived here in the mountains, where we all have enough land so that neighbors daily noises aren't heard, it may be very hard to be subjected to close neighbor's music, conversations, etc.. That worries me a lot!.

  • rebeccamomof123
    7 years ago

    Haven't read all other comments yet, but I'd definitely want an expanded Cape, with farmers porch and rocking chairs. Large open combined kitchen to living/dining space where I could take a small dining table when it's the two of us, and make it much larger for special occasions when family comes to visit. One well appointed master with laundry on main floor and upstairs, two bedrooms with a Jack and Jill bathroom in the middle. Without visitors, we'd use the home as a ranch, and only need to tend to the upstairs when visitors are expected. One bedroom upstairs would have either multiple daybeds with trundles or bunks, to sleep the grand kids all together when they visit. The other could be for my grown children and their spouse(s). For when they all come to visit together, I'd make sure the couch has a pullout on the main floor and I'd want have a small home office on the main floor for when my kids come to visit and need a quiet place to work while I play with grand kids. And, it could double as a guest room at night with an air mattress.

    This is pretty much the home we live in now, and we're hopeful with a few modifications (adding a bath and WIC, to make a master out of what is currently our playroom) it will be a very comfortable forever home for us. It's a very well laid out yet modest 2,000 square feet, so certainly not expansive, but large enough without needing to downsize.

    Other nice to haves:

    • Hot tub for soaking sore muscles after a long day chasing grandkids (see above)
    • Potting shed if you enjoy gardening
    • Fenced in yard for privacy and convenience
  • powermuffin
    7 years ago

    In 2007, when the last kid moved out, we made a list. No front facing garage, must have AC, walking distance to amenities/downtown, basement, and no bigger than 2000 sq ft. We settled in a turn-of-the-century neighborhood, 5 blocks from a great, but small downtown. Our bungalow is about 2100 sq ft, 3 beds, 2 baths with AC. We built a garage add-on to the 100 year old carriage house at the back of our property (with alley access). We have a large family room and a large dining room; we redid the kitchen and now these spaces work wonderfully with our growing family. The basement is unfinished and is tall enough for me, but not my husband. It is the only item on the wish list that still needs to be addressed. We are DIYers and that will be a fun project - not for space, just to have headroom, storage and proper lighting.

    We LOVE our walkable neighborhood, love walking to restaurants, the library, coffee shops, etc. We are very happy in our new home and hope we never have to leave it.

  • kmarissa03
    7 years ago

    "If you hit any stairs on your way to dinner, you'll be out of practice for taking the stairs and you'll arrive winded and creaking."

    "I currently live in a townhouse development where all the units have two stories and what I see here is a whole lot of folks who think along the lines of "stairs are healthy" when they move here in their fifties and sixties, but who leave at eighty although they are otherwise in great shape because the stairs have become too onerous for them."

    I think that it's fair to consider that regularly using stairs is generally healthy for seniors *but also*, at a certain point, many of us are likely to reach the age or physical condition where stairs are a particular problem. I don't necessarily see the conflict with wanting to live close to walkable restaurants, but have a ground floor master bedroom. Many people can enjoy those walkable restaurants through their early and mid-retirement years, but if they eventually can no longer manage stairs (or, for that matter, walk to those restaurants), or become wheelchair-bound, they may still be able to comfortably live in their homes with a ground floor master bedroom.

    For example, my grandmother is in her mid-eighties. She is still very active, lives alone, cooks, cleans, and works out at the gym several times a week (she even does yoga!), but cannot visit overnight at my home because the guest rooms are all on the upper floors. She can handle a few stairs at a time, but not a whole flight. We just lost a lovely set of neighbors (moved away, not passed away!) who were probably in their 70's, because they felt they could no longer manage the stairs to their second floor bedroom. That's not to say you can't reasonably choose a home with a second-story master bedroom to retire into, but it's just one consideration to keep in mind and it's reasonable that different people may have different perspectives.

  • Cheryl Hewitt
    7 years ago

    Our current home will be the one where we age in place, hopefully. We're the third owners of the house., The second owners lived in the house into their 90's. It was built by a doctor whose wife was wheelchair bound, so it's barrier-free - although I suspect that we've limited maneuverability in the kitchen by adding the islands. Hopefully it'll never come to one of us being wheelchair bound.

    The neighborhood is nice, but we don't have that great of a walk score (26). That being said, we have a plethora of excellent restaurants nearby, and many city parks and nature areas with walking trails that are a short drive away.

    The main floor has ~2,400 sq ft. and the basement is equal in size, but only has 885 sq ft of finished space. We have a two car attached garage that is level with the main floor.

    On the main floor are the kitchen, living room, dining room, family room, two bedrooms, bathroom, and master bedroom with en-suite that has a low curb shower. The lower level has two bedrooms, one bath, and two large unfinished rooms (~1,500 sq ft). The laundry is in one of the unfinished rooms. We moved the laundry to the basement when we remodeled the kitchen. This summer our friend who is living with us will be moving out. If at that time we switch up which bedrooms the kids are using, we could convert the bedroom next to ours into a dressing room and relocate, or add another set of washer/dryers into that room at some point down the road if needed. This room already has a door connecting it to the master bedroom, which I find incredibly strange. (Currently we have a dresser strategically placed on the other side of the door.)

    The patio on the back of the house is perfectly level with the elevation of the main floor. The house opens to this space from three rooms, our bedroom, the sunroom, and the kitchen. The master suite wing of the house blocks the view of the neighbor's home on one side and the house on the other side is built to limit their view of our yard, so it's rather private. The property backs up to a wooded nature area, so there are no houses behind us. Currently we have limited areas that require mowing, but I'd like to reduce that even further someday with changes to the landscaping.

    On my dream list are a firepit with seating and a hot tub area, and a media/TV room in the basement.

    When my BF said he wanted to age in place in this house I was surprised, because he's in his 40's. But he was a military brat and he doesn't care to switch homes frequently. And when he pointed out that this house was designed to be barrier-free it made sense to me. At first I thought it would be too big for the two of us, but after giving it some consideration I've changed my mind. After reading through this thread and seeing how important it is to have space for visiting children and their families I feel even better about the plan to stay in this house.

  • tinam61
    7 years ago

    kmarissa, some good points. This seems to be the age of problem knees (or maybe problem shoulders here at GW!). I know so many people who have had knee surgery(s) or replacements and other ailments that make stairs hard for them. I personally don't get alot of stair time because we don't have them, although I could/should maybe make a practice of walking them on days I work (for exercise), although I do walk.