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Tips for Empty Nesters Looking To Downsize


That big five-bedroom, 3,000 square foot house with the ½ acre yard was a dream place to raise your family in and make memories. However, now that the kids are all moved out, a new living situation may well be on the table. There are various reasons behind downsizing, such as “empty nest syndrome,” or various financial benefits. Regardless of the particular reason, this venture comes with specific stipulations; getting rid of a few belongings, and getting used to closer quarters. That being said, there are some helpful things to keep in mind while readying yourself to downsize.

In This Article:
  1. Empty Nest Syndrome
  2. Moving Into a New House 
  3. How to Downsize

1. Empty Nest Syndrome

According to Psychology Today, empty nest syndrome is characterized by feelings of loneliness and loss during transitional periods in life. These feelings stem from children leaving the metaphorical “nest” in order to further their education or to mature into the next stage of their lives. Although the article goes on to explain that empty nest syndrome is not an actual clinical disorder, it may cause serious psychological distress. These feelings can manifest not only in adults in siblings after their siblings move out. Empty nest syndrome is associated with:

  • Depression
  • Feelings of loss
  • Loneliness
  • Frustration
  • Stress 

Nevertheless, there are many ways to cope with empty nest syndrome:

  • Psychotherapy
  • New hobbies
  • Keeping in contact with the child/children
  • Scheduling family trips and making traditions
  • Renting out rooms in the house to fill space

2. Moving Into a New House 

One method that people are using to fill the void of an empty nest is to switch up living situations. This could be downsizing or possibly upgrading. There are memories and feelings associated with the old house that remind parents of their children, so this in itself is often a motivator. 


Downsizing has financial benefits. The majority of the time, there is a decrease in the cost of the mortgage, there are fewer (or cheaper) utilities as well as fewer property taxes. This results in less money spent on bills and more money to spend elsewhere. 

Downsizing also has practical benefits. If you have a four-bedroom house, and no one is occupying the three spare rooms, there are three extra bedrooms that are simply collecting dust. When downsizing, there is less to clean and there is less to take care of overall. 

Downsizing can be seen in a few different ways:

  • Square footage
  • Yard/land
  • Rooms/bathrooms
  • The number of floors 

Regardless of how it is measured, downsizing is characterized by a transition from more to less.

Starting a New Chapter 

Although empty-nesting may be emotionally hard, it can also be a fresh start. A new house acts as a blank canvas; ready to be painted with new memories, good food, and new beginnings. Since this isn’t your first rodeo, you know the things that you’ll want in a new space, as well as the things to stay away from. 

Take your time with your new chapter. There is no rush, or deadline. Wait for the market to be right, find the perfect realtor, and be patient when looking for the new ideal and practical home.

3. How to Downsize

There are a variety of ways to downsize. The new adventure is a process of adjustments and weeding through unnecessary belongings.

Adjusting to a Smaller Space

When adjusting to closer quarters, you will likely need to minimalize. This means getting rid of certain things that aren’t being used, or that aren’t deemed a necessity. How much to get rid of depends on how much downsizing is necessary. If you had a 3,000 square foot house and were planning on moving into a 900 square foot tiny home, there would be more to get rid of than if you were moving from a 3,000 square foot house into a 1,500 square foot home. Although you can sell things and/or give them away, you can also take furniture and other items that don’t fit into your smaller space and store them in a personal storage unit for safekeeping. If your child is bringing all their belongings to school, then back home during the summer, a student storage unit can be a great resource.

What to Do With Your Kids’ Clothes 

Some parents like to hold on to some of their children’s former baby items. At this point in life, other than keeping a few items for sentimental reasons, it’s time to clear things out. Make sure to have conversations with your children about what you are getting rid of. Let them be a part of the process of helping pick what should stay and what should go. 

There are many decisions made and processes to be followed when downsizing. The important takeaway, though, is to understand that downsizing is a transitional process, not an overnight task. Take your time and make deliberate, thoughtful choices. Include your significant other, your children or a friend to help you decide which items are necessary, and embrace the process.

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