Too much space isn’t always a good thing. Remember: You have to pay to heat, cool and maintain that space, too. If you don’t need it, it can become an extra cost, and why pay for space you don’t use? Instead, you can use that money as an investment to get your dream home—phase two. And guess what? This time it’s all about you.

As we get older our needs change and so should our homes because really, a home should work with you and for you—not the other way around. For example, a three-storey, 2-kitchen, 4-bathroom home with a dining room, living room, family room and a finished basement might not make that much sense anymore.

The good news is you have options, and downsizing doesn’t have to mean downgrading. It’s about maximizing your home and space so that it works for you and your future. 

You could sell and purchase a smaller house, like a bungalow, and then focus on making it work for you.

For example, you can work with a contractor to make it more open-concept. You can also work with a kitchen designer and install accessible cupboards and drawers in the kitchen. Some installers can add a hydraulic system that lowers and raises your cabinets, which makes grabbing heavy dishes a lot easier.

You can add a curbless shower in the bathroom, where the exact same tile is installed throughout the entire bathroom floor. This maximizes space and increases accessibility but not at the cost of style. 

You can also invest in touchless faucets, heated flooring exactly where you need it so you’re not wasting energy, as well as strategic LED lighting throughout your entire home, including hallways, which increases safety and energy-efficiency. (Energy efficiency becomes really important for tighter budgets as we move into our retirement years.) 

And don’t just stop inside. Think about the outside too, like investing in a metal roof that you will never have to reshingle, or a deck for life that you will be able to enjoy for years to come—one that’s safe, requires minimal maintenance and you will never need to replace.

Some empty nesters decide to sell their house and move to a condo instead, so they don’t have to worry about mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway or the regular maintenance that a house normally requires. Or they will sell their home and use that money to rent the ideal space that already has everything they need.

Whatever you decide to do, it must make sense for you and your future plans.

For example, does it make more sense for you to own or rent? Will you need to have access to transit? Do you want a little property to work on during your retirement years or are you thinking of traveling more and spending less time at home? Keep in mind that the best solution for you will not necessarily be the best solution for your friends or your neighbours.

It might mean moving to a smaller space with little to no maintenance, like a condo unit, so you can travel; or moving to a bungalow with a small garden you can work on, with minimal landscaping. But no matter what you decide always to talk to the pros. Do your homework, find out what your options are and what it means to do it right and make it last, so you won’t have to worry about it in the future.