13 Big Downsizing Moves Retirees May Regret Making Too Soon

Take a good assessment of items in your life before you decide to ditch them.
Updated May 8, 2024
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You’ve made all the right moves for a stress-free retirement. Now is the time to look toward the third act of your life and decide how you want to live. And some of that retirement planning may include downsizing.

But downsizing has its drawbacks. There may be things you decide to ditch and later regret getting rid of.

Here are some things you may want to give more thought to before you decide to downsize them in retirement.

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Your home

Andrii Zastrozhnov/Adobe deceived homeowner

One of the first things you may consider downsizing is your home, but you may want to reassess your property before putting it on the market.

If you contact a local real estate agent, you might ask them to take a look at your home and give you their thoughts on what might need to be done to get it into the best condition to sell it. With that knowledge, you can determine how much money you might get as well as the cost to prepare it for sale.

Purchasing a smaller home could be a good option for you, but you may find that staying put is better for you financially.

Your location

deagreez/Adobe touching nose feeling bad

Downsizing to a smaller home may be part of the process of relocating for your retirement. Perhaps you like the idea of living in a smaller town or getting away from an expensive city where you had to live for work.

But smaller towns may not have the amenities you desire or need such as health care facilities, retail shops, and restaurants. You may be potentially trading in an office commute for driving long distances for shopping, an airport, or entertainment.

Your clothes

Andrey Popov/Adobe woman decluttering things at home

You may be ready to change those work clothes for leisure wear, but you should shop your closet before you start packing things up for donations.

Consider keeping some business-related items like suits and skirts for dinners out or special events. You might also want to hold on to clothing that is sentimental to you like a wedding dress. You can’t get that back once you let it go.

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Your car

Dusko/Adobe happy grandfather with grandson driving bumper car at amusement park

You won’t have a commute anymore so it could be time to ditch your SUV and get something smaller.

But think about how you’ll be using your car before you trade it in for a smaller vehicle. You may want to hold on to that bigger option for road trips, sports equipment like golf clubs, or a car seat for a grandchild.

Your furniture

Andriy Blokhin/Adobe young woman on brown rocking chair

If you’re moving into a smaller house, it may be time to let go of some of your furniture. Or maybe you just want to declutter your space.

It’s a good idea to think about what you want to sell, donate, or keep before you just put everything on the curb, especially sentimental items or family heirlooms.

Think about offering some pieces to other family members or find specific organizations that can use your furniture for a good cause.

Your friends

Krakenimages.com/Adobe man holding donations package

It can be hard if you retire and your friends are still working. After all, you can’t go to lunch with them while they’re in the office.

The good news is you have more time in your day to be flexible. Don’t give up on trying to meet up with your working friends for happy hour or to see each other on the weekend.

And if you’re planning to volunteer, take lifelong learning classes, or pursue a new hobby, you will probably be making new friends.

Your family

JenkoAtaman/Adobe grandson gives card to grandmother

You might be excited to pack up and move to a warmer state with sunshine but think about who you could be leaving behind.

You may currently see your family on a regular basis. How will you feel if you can only see them a couple of times a year? Consider this when you research where you may want to move. Downsizing your time with your family may not be good for you.

Your travels

Jacob Lund/Adobe retired couple walking around

According to a 2023 survey by TransAmerica, 60% of people expect to travel when they retire. But cost is a big concern for most.

There are ways you can cut down your travel budget without eliminating those vacations you always dreamed of. For example, you could take a part-time job and put all the earnings into a travel fund. And there are group travel companies for every budget, so be sure to research your options.

Your hobbies

Jacob Lund/Adobe senior man sitting in a library

You might be looking forward to spending more time on your hobbies or picking up new ones when you retire. Enjoy your time with your hobbies without feeling guilty about the materials you may need or the money you might spend.

There are ways for you to stay within your budget while also enjoying hobbies. Check out your local library to read more books or rent DVDs. Or you might sell items you make to fund more supplies.

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Your outdoor time

InsideCreativeHouse/Adobe relaxing beside camper van

If you’re planning to tackle projects or declutter when you retire, make sure they don’t become another full-time job. You want to have time to enjoy walks or hikes or just sit in the sun for an afternoon cup of tea.

You’re retired, so you balance your time working on projects inside with enjoying some projects and free time outside.

Your social connections

Davide Angelini/Adobe women taking selfie

Retirement can be a letdown sometimes when you have nowhere to go. You may even feel lonely without daily interaction with co-workers.

So find ways to help you stay connected socially with other people. You can join local community groups or volunteer at an organization. It’s important to keep up your social connections after you stop working.

Your health insurance

chingyunsong/Adobe senior people listening to male doctor

One of the more expensive items in your retirement budget could be health insurance, but you may want to downsize other expenses before you downsize your coverage.

Health insurance is a crucial expense that can cover you if you get sick or have a medical issue. You will be eligible for Medicare at age 65, but purchasing a Medigap plan can limit what you pay for copayments and deductibles. Be sure to research all of the plans offered before you buy one.

Your sports equipment

Khaligo/Adobe senior man playing tennis

You may have a basketball that you haven’t used much or golf clubs that haven’t been out of the bag for a few years.

But don’t downsize your sports equipment just yet. Retirement is a great time to exercise more and stay in shape. Consider picking up a sport again or finding some new activities like pickleball before you give away your equipment.

Bottom line

MNStudio/Adobe senior couple enjoying cruise vacation

Retirement is a good time to reassess what you have, what you want, and what you plan to downsize. However, it’s also important to take a good look at what you own before you step away from them.

Create an estimated budget for retirement, and remember to include savings you may get from downsizing or eliminating items. For example, a smaller home may cost less to heat or air-condition, which will provide monthly savings.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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