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When Your Housing Needs Change

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Too Much Space

Go Figure

It used to be that a person would buy a home, fully expecting to stay in it until he died. These days, we're much more likely to move in our 50s, 60s, or 70s. This is partially due to the great increase in life expectancy during the past century. While people in 1900 could expect to live 45 years, today, 4 out of 5 of us will live to see 65, with a 50 percent chance of living past 80.

A four-bedroom house with a big family room and separate playroom was great when your three kids were living at home. Now that they've moved out, though, the big house seems a little excessive—not to mention a bit lonely.

Sure, it'll be great to have some extra rooms for future grandkids, and it's nice to have a guest room always made up. Somehow, though, the house just seems too big.

If you're a couple, or maybe even single living in a family home, you're likely to feel a bit like a marble rolling around in a trash can. While many people hang on to their family homes (due in many cases to the emotional attachment), a growing trend is to move into something more size-suitable for one or two people.

Too Much Yard

Your huge backyard served as a playground for all the neighborhood kids while your children were growing up. Now, it seems to exist only to cause you headaches and cost you money.

Let's face it. Any property maintenance means work, and a large property is more work. You've either got to do it yourself, hire someone else to do it, or bribe your teenager. There's grass to cut, hedges to trim, fertilizer to spread, weeds and insects to control, gardens to maintain, and trees to trim. In the winter, there's snow to shovel, ice to chip … need we go on?

If you're like many people, these outdoor chores become tiresome as you get older. You don't relish the thought of waking up Saturday morning and fueling up the lawn mower. You'd much rather head out for a round of golf or tennis, but there you are, tied to your property.

Some people find great enjoyment and satisfaction from maintaining a large property. Many others, however, consider a large property to be an inconvenience, and perhaps even a reason to consider moving.

Just Not Quite Right

You've lived in your house for 20 years now, wishing every day that you had a two-vehicle garage instead of a single. You're sick and tired of having to brush snow off of your car and scrape ice from the windshield every time there's a storm.

Or maybe you've had it with the lack of closet space in your home. Perhaps you're sick to death of hauling groceries up from a shelf in the garage because there's not enough cabinet space in your kitchen to store them. Or possibly your house has no powder room or central air conditioning. Maybe your street has gotten very busy over the years, and your neighborhood is no longer the quiet place it once was. Or perhaps many of the old neighbors have moved out, and it seems that the entire neighborhood is looking a bit run down and feeling a little forlorn.

Some drawbacks concerning your home are easy to overlook, while others can cause a bit more angst. If you've always hated the chandelier that hangs over your dining room table, for instance, you can easily replace it with a new one. The layout of your family room, however, is a bit more difficult to alter.

We're often forced to live in homes that aren't quite right because we can't afford to alter them, or we don't have the time or ambition to do so. Sometimes, however, these little imperfections are what spur us to consider, and actually make, major housing changes.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in Your 40s and 50s © 2002 by Sarah Young Fisher and Susan Shelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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