Navigating Downsizing: Everything a Senior Wants to Know

By: Mike Longsdon

There is nothing like enjoying retirement, as it allows us to explore our senior years with a new sense of freedom. After all, we’ve worked hard to get where we are today, and for many of us, it’s the perfect opportunity to discover new interests and hobbies. Of course, downsizing can be a large part of finding more time for this adventure, especially when purchasing a new home. Here’s some information to keep in mind during the process.

How Downsizing Can Improve Your Golden Years

Often, having a larger home in our golden years just doesn’t make sense. When you don’t have as many maintenance- and financial-related responsibilities, you have the opportunity to enjoy spending more time enjoying retirement. In fact, it takes longer each week to keep a larger home clean, as well as more money to maintain it. Both of these factors — time and money — could be better invested in doing things that you enjoy. Of course, there are ways to lower heating and cooling bills, but these tricks take work and time. At the end of the day, it’s worth considering downsizing and moving into the home of your dreams instead.

Exploring New Cities and Areas

This is the perfect opportunity to relocate to somewhere you’ve thought about your whole life. Still, we can’t just pack our bags and hit the road, so begin by doing your homework. When thinking of a specific city, you have to consider its weather, cost of living, quality of healthcare, and how active its senior community is. Then again, if it’s been a goal to explore another country, such as France, Spain, or Italy, your budget could go further. Indeed, there are plenty of places where you can not just survive, but thrive, on less than $3,000 a month.

Finding the Best Home for You

An accessible-ready home will be your best bet, but if you fall in love with a two-story home in need of a little renovation, you can still make it work. For instance, you might keep your bedroom on the ground floor, especially if there is a bathroom on that level. Moreover, you could also install a chairlift on the stairs to make things safe and provide easy access. Otherwise, prioritize homes that allow you to age comfortably. In particular, look for light switches that are easy-touch and 48 inches from the ground, hallways and rooms with walkways wide enough for mobility aids, and no-threshold showers to make bathing safe and effortless. If modifications are going to be a must, be sure to get a general idea of a home’s value so you know what you can expect to spend on the house, making it easier to budget for necessary upgrades. In Fort Collins, homes are currently selling for an average of around $399,000, but you can find a smaller-sized home for less.

Packing, Moving Day, and Organizing

To make moving day as easy as possible, the best thing you can do is declutter and donate any items you no longer need. This may seem difficult at first, particularly when we are attached to stuff no longer used, but remind yourself that memory associated with it is the most important. So, use it one last time, take a picture, and let it go. Without boxes bulging with possessions, packing and transportation will be much easier. As you do pack, don’t go room by room; instead, pack by category to keep similar items together. Lastly, to ensure moving day itself is as painless as possible, take extra care when researching Fort Collins moving companies. After all, you want to have faith that the movers will get your goods to your destination safely.

Finding a New Rhythm

A new house brings new routines, and the transition can sometimes be difficult. However, having an organized home can make things smoother, so don’t put off unpacking. When you arrive, do the main parts of your kitchen, enough to cook a few meals, then set up your bedroom. There’s nothing more priceless than having a place you can retreat to, so invest your energy here. Then, you can take your time and really think about where you’d like everything to go to make your home the sanctuary it should be.

Don’t let your house be a reason you don’t have the independence you deserve. With fewer chores and expenses, you’ll have a greater ability to find new sources of joy at this stage of life. A smaller home can open opportunities you might not have realized were available.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Posted on October 14, 2019 at 1:47 am
Sarah Schilz | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Fort Collins City Council to Recognize the PAFC

As many of you know I’m part of a few organizations that serve seniors in Fort Collins. One of those organizations is the Partnership for Age Friendly Communities.

On April 3rd Fort Collins will recognize April as Affordable Housing Month and at the same time recognize the Partnership for Age Friendly Communities as one of the key partners in addressing the housing needs of Fort Collins’ growing senior population.

I’m honored to be a part of this group and I look forward to the changes and growth the PAFC is encouraging in all the work we do!

Way to go PAFC!


If you’d like to find out more about what the PAFC does check out the website! Click Here!



Posted on March 28, 2018 at 1:44 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Fort Collins Real Estate, News, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Seniors | Tagged , , , ,

How Communities Could Create Aging-in-Place Zones

Land-use regulations could mean the difference between aging in place and moving elsewhere for many older adults, and restructuring zoning codes might allow more seniors to remain in their homes, a group of researchers has suggested.

Practitioners, policymakers and researchers convened in September for a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Urban Institute in conjunction with the Stanford Center on Longevity and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. During their two days of conversation, participants expressed widespread interest in the prospect of a federal proposal aimed at the design of a model, age-friendly zoning code, the Urban Institute recently reported.

“As our diverse population of older adults continues to grow, policymakers and service providers face the difficult task of crafting affordable aging in place strategies that promote independence and well-being,” the Urban Institute states. “Housing policy is an important part of that: while 90% of adults age 65 and up want to age in their own homes, more and more seniors live on fixed incomes, and housing can be a major financial burden.”

The effects of regulatory zoning constraints are largely endured by older adults, according to the Urban Institute, as existing rules rarely provide the affordable options necessary to age in place in a safe and healthy way. Given the variance in zoning codes across the United States, a model code could at least act as an example for state and local jurisdictions.

“Creating a model age-friendly zoning code requires a body of research and consensus building around what components best facilitate aging in place,” the Urban Institute states. “By acting now, we will have useful tools at our disposal when local jurisdictions finally decide to face the reality of our aging population and inadequate housing supply.”

The Urban Institute suggests that such a model code might entail:

  • Permitting Various Residence Types: Allowing for the development of apartments, co-housing and more building types contributes tremendously to establishing affordable and socially connected housing options.
  • Emphasizing Community Engagement: Constructing mixed-used properties and placing them near public transportation allows older adults to remain connected to hospitals, grocery stores and other locale that help them stay healthy and engaged in the community.
  • Creating Age-Friendly Infrastructure: Addressing neighborhood infrastructure is yet another way to facilitate aging in place. This would include grid-based layouts with shorter blocks, more street lighting, plenty of signage, well-regulated traffic and accessible elevators and ramps help older adults feel able to remain active in their communities, according to the Urban Institute. This concept has already been explored by the World Health Organization, AARP and several cities.


Posted on December 3, 2015 at 6:20 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Seniors, Transitions | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

A coming of age crisis: Can the U.S. meet the housing challenges of an aging population?

By Kim Slowey | November 19, 2015


Growing older comes with a unique set of challenges: increasing health problems, a dwindling bank account, learning to live on a fixed income, loss of independence, decreased social interaction and, for some, an unfamiliar state of vulnerability. One of the most pressing issues facing seniors, however, is that most basic of needs  a safe and affordable place to live.

According to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University, by 2030, the number of U.S. baby boomers aged 65-74 will reach 38.6 million, and the number of 75-84-year-olds will reach 30.1 million by 2040.

Current options

Some seniors have the financial resources to pick and choose where and how they will live, but for many, affordability is the issue, according to Alayna Waldrum, senior housing consultant, advocate and former housing legislative representative for LeadingAge, a national senior advocacy group comprised of thousands of nonprofits.

"If you have substantial income, or you have resources, then housing really isn’t going to be an issue," she said. "You can arrange the housing that you need."

Waldrum said the most affordable housing option for very-low-income seniors over the age of 62 has been the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202 program, which provides funding to housing nonprofits in two ways. One method is project rental assistance contracts, through which money is directed to a qualifying senior development to cover the difference between residents’ rent payments and the cost of operations. 

The other avenue of assistance is through capital advances. In this scenario, HUD pays for the cost of developing, purchasing or rehabilitating a development, and no repayment of that investment is required as long as the housing remains available to very-low-income seniors for at least 40 years. 

However, the bad news for the very-low-income segment of the rapidly increasing senior population, projected to be 6.5 million households by 2024, is that HUD provided its last round of capital advance funding in 2012, with no current plans to re-start that program or anything similar.

"They’re not being built anymore," Waldrum said. "There is no program now that pays for the construction of this type of housing, and that is going to be a major challenge nationally."

In addition, the 40-year obligation attached to the capital advance program is ending for many developments, Waldrum said, and some owners are choosing to either sell the properties or convert them to market-rate housing, further squeezing an already tight national supply of approximately 300,000 units.

The next most-affordable housing option for seniors, Waldrum said, is through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. Simply put, investors receive a sizeable federal tax credit for financing certain types of low-income housing. In addition, resident income limits for LIHTC housing are not as stringent as they are for very-low-income units.

"LIHTC has always played a prominent role in the creation and preservation of affordable senior housing," said Charles Anderson, executive vice president of acquisitions at City Real Estate Advisors, Inc. City Real Estate is a syndicator of affordable housing tax credits and facilitates and manages affordable housing projects throughout the U.S. "In many of those cases," Anderson said, "HUD has played the important role of providing rental subsidy, permanent loan proceeds or both."

Anderson said that while many affordable housing professionals believe seniors and others in need are underserved, most would agree the LIHTC program has been a success, and, in fact, he said, the LIHTC program is where much of the senior housing development activity has been and will continue to be.

"As it relates to current activity forecasts, we are expecting our production level to increase roughly 30% year over year for fiscal year 2016.," he said. "We are on track in accomplishing this goal, and we are generally optimistic about the market supply and demand metrics we are seeing."

New ideas for older residents

However, given the number of people expected to hit senior status in the next 25 years, standard housing options might not be enough. Along those lines, homesharing is an option gaining popularity among seniors.

Types of homesharing range from roommate matching services tomultigenerational housing where younger people move into a senior’s home to give support and day-to-day companionship in exchange for free or low rent.

For example, a nursing home in the Netherlands provides free housing for college students in exchange for 30 hours a week of being "good neighbors" to the senior residents, providing much needed social interaction to combat the sense of loneliness and isolation so prevalent in these types of facilities.

Jeff Salter, founder of Caring Senior Service, said the natural solution is to find ways to allow as many seniors as possible to "age in place" in their existing homes because "there’s no possible way to build enough facilities to house all the seniors that are going to need help" in the coming years.

Salter said his experience has been, and as some studies have suggested, that when people have to leave their homes for a long-term care facility, their life span can shorten. "Dorm living is great when you’re young and want new experiences, and your life is all ahead of you," he said. However, according to Salter, for seniors who are used to living independently, "being thrust into a scenario where you’re now in a dorm setting again at the end of your life is actually quite depressing."

Salter said the biggest obstacle to seniors being able to stay in their homes is the risk of a fall, and most senior homes are not equipped to prevent them. "Simple things like installing grab bars in the bathroom and teaching people how to actually use those grab bars and convincing them that they need to use them  that’s just an education process."

According to the JCHS, 5.5 million older households include someone with mobility difficulty but are without accessibility modifications, such as no-step entryways and ramps. They conclude that there is at least a $13 billion opportunity for the remodeling industry just by installing these features alone.

Looking ahead

Waldrum said the nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center is a respected aging-in-place advocate. The Washington, DC, think tank is exploring myriad ways, from smart home technology to urban planning, to help seniors stay in their homes.

Salter said being able to age in place is all about planning before a fall or a crisis happens  "things they can do early on, so as they progress, they have a long-term plan of what the next steps are," Salter said.

Waldrum believes housing solutions for the country’s present and future senior populations are dependent on how much Washington, and the rest of the country, is willing to face the realities of aging. "We have a larger percentage of people than ever before who aren’t interested in the policy of housing, and that makes it challenging for us to get our message across," he said.

Posted on November 29, 2015 at 4:22 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Transitions | Tagged , , , , , ,