10 Questions Empty Nesters Should Ask Before Moving the Nest

Congrats…the kids are now gone! Or close enough that you are thinking about the “empty nest” and what that means for your life, your relationships, and your future living arrangement.

Aside from a boomerang experience or two where your adult kids may need a place to temporarily stay, the “family home” has served its purpose, and it’s now time to think about the “next home.”

Here’s ten questions to help you personally sort through this major topic, and spark a meaningful discussion with a partner or family members.

Because there’s a lot of emotions and mixed feelings when talking about moving from the current nest to what may be your “last nest” or “next-to-last nest,” preparing for the discussion can make for a calmer and more informative set of talks, aimed ultimately at meeting everyone’s needs.

#1) Why do I want to make a move? The response to this question may seem obvious: “there’s too much house for two people,” “I’m tired of the stairs,” “it’s time for a change,” etc. But don’t jump to the other questions too soon. WHY do you want to make a move? You’ll likely discover a deeper want or need by spending a little time on this question. Some thoughtful reflection can help you better understand your own deeper needs so you can share your perspective with your partner or family members, and foster a better discussion on making a move.

#2) How would I like to spend the second half of my life? While change is hard, this particular change comes with lots of possibilities. If you’re married or in a committed relationship, both of you get to dream about the sunset of your life together. If you’re on your own, the possibilities are endless. Do you want to travel? Do you want to volunteer and make a difference in the world? Maybe start a business? Perhaps live in your home part of the year, and the rest of the year somewhere else? All of this could have an impact on where and when you move. Yes, change can be hard…but it can also be a whole lot of fun.

#3) What’s left on my bucket list? Trying to make a new place feel like your home can be a major time-suck, taking as much as a year or two (or three). And with home improvements, property changes, or room additions, it can be a drain on the finances too. What experiences do you want to have before you’re too old to do them? Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro? Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef? Road trip across the “Lower 48”? Run with the bulls in Pamplona? Depending on the time commitments and financial costs of your personal bucket list items, it may be wiser to wait on making a move (or at least the part that includes buying a new place).

#4) Where would I like to move? Answering this question can be as general or specific as you want it to be. Name a neighborhood, a city, a state, or another country you’d like to move to. Describe a type of home you would like to live in. Do you want to live in an urban area, suburbia, or a rural area? Make a list of all the possible options that intrigue you. This is your time to think outside the box and create a wide-range of possibilities.

#5) What are my must-haves, wants, and needs for this next home? While you may not have been able to be as selective with the last home, you’re likely in a position where you can be really picky with the next home. Do you want a one-story home on acreage? Do you want a view of the mountains or the water? Does this next home need to be a certain size, a specific style, or have special features you’ve always wanted in a home? You most likely won’t get everything you want, you can make sure you get what you need from this next home.

#6) What can you afford and for how long? It’s been so fun to fantasize about the future up to this point. So, here’s your first slap of realism! Can you afford the dream of your next home? And if you have the funds for it now, can you afford it long-term? This is a question that might be better answered with the help of a real estate agent (to give an accurate valuation of your current home), financial advisor (to assess your investments and portfolio), and accountant (share any tax implications). This is a great time to get outside counsel from those who can look at your entire financial picture.

#7) How does this move affect my kids (and grandkids)? Here’s the second slap of realism! Do you want to be close to family, convenient for family to travel to, or come-and-go and drop in on family on your own terms? It’s ironic that you couldn’t wait until your kids left the home, but they tend to reproduce these adorable critters called “grandkids” that you can’t wait to spend time with. This creates a real conundrum in your decision on where you want to move.

#8) How does this move affect aging parents or family members? Here’s the third slap of reality when fantasizing about the second half of your life. A prevailing concern for lots of families is what happens to elderly parents as they get older: who cares for them, where do they live, and what happens if their health takes a downturn? This can create a physical, emotional, and financial burden on the children…especially if they live a long distance away. Be sure to discuss these matters, as well as your moving plans with your parents, siblings, and other family members.

#9) Does a move need to be made at all? After considering all the factors – figuring out what you’d make on your current home, prioritizing your needs and the needs of other family members, evaluating the items on your bucket list, assessing your finances, and listing out the pros and cons of making a move–the best decision for you, your future plans, and your family might be to just stay put. Or to remain in the home a while longer.

#10) What home improvements need to be made? Staying in your current home may be a better overall decision, but improving the home may be the best decision. Changing the flooring, updating the kitchen counters and appliances, painting the inside and outside of the home, and modernizing the master bathroom not only helps to emotionally and mentally embrace remaining in the home, it can help add value to the home when the time finally comes to sell it. Make a list of what you want and need to update and change in the home, prioritize it, and then tackle it on your own or with professionals.

The nest you raised kids in has served its purpose. The goal for your next living arrangement has a different purpose—to meet the needs for your life, your relationships, and your future. Wherever the new nest ends up being located at, whatever it ends up looking like, however it ends up coming about, and whenever it ends up happening is up to you. So, take the time to make a good decision.

ACT NOW:

  • Spend a considerable amount of time writing down answers to the 10 questions above.
  • Discuss your responses with your partner, a family member, or a trusted friend to get feedback and broader perspective on your moving plans.
  • Find a real estate agent to get an assessment on the value of your current home and possible cost for your future home.

About the Authors:

Jason and Kelli Krafsky are relationship experts turned Realtors, combining their relationship insights and real estate advice into articles and resources for home buyers, home sellers, and home owners at YourHomeLyfe.com!

Called “Your Family’s Go-to Real Estate Team,” Jason and Kelli serve clients throughout the Puget Sound region of Washington state with John L. Scott, Inc. – Bellevue Main office. They are also members of the National Association of REALTORS and Seattle-King County REALTORS. The Krafskys have been married since 1994 and have four kids.

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