OTTAWA -- This pandemic has meant we have all spent more time at home than ever before.

If you’re a baby boomer and you are thinking you have more home than you need, real estate broker Taylor Bennett of Bennett Property Shop Realty says there are signs it may be the right time for a downsize.

In Ottawa, baby boomers (ages 55 to 75) are the second largest demographic in the city. But according to Bennett, they are “the most influential demographic in Ottawa.” o

“Many of them are preparing to make the move into a retirement-friendly dwelling, but for others, it can be hard to identify when the time is right,” he says.

Bennett says downsizing can be a tough decision.

“As we go through life we are all used to up-sizing our home - from a university dorm room to an apartment to a modest first home and onwards, which is one of the main reasons down-sizing can be such a difficult step for many of us to take, he said. “Unfortunately some people postpone this decision until the decision is made for them (due to health issues or deteriorating living conditions). However, with the correct plan in place, this transition can be an enjoyable and exciting step.”

Bennett, who has guided clients through the downsizing process has prepared a bit of checklist of tips for people who have entered, or are about to enter, retirement years.

“After raising your family and building friendships and relationships in your community, it can be difficult to identify when the time is right to make this life-changing transition.  If you find yourself in this current position, here are some helpful tips.

1. There are areas of your home you haven’t visited in weeks

“The term ‘empty nester’ is very apropos here, as children leave the family home many of the high-traffic areas often see no traffic at all. Vacant bedrooms become home offices or storage areas, guest rooms are seldom used or basement rec rooms go unseen for months. While these rooms aren't being used, they still factor into your home's heating/cooling costs, insurance, and more.” 

2. Home upkeep takes you down

“No one truly enjoys maintaining their home – cleaning gutters, cutting grass, resealing the driveway – but every style of property requires some upkeep, and larger family-homes simply require a lot more upkeep than others. As we get older, not only do we have less energy to tackle these essential chores but with fewer people at home to help out, home maintenance can quickly become a huge burden. While there are professional services available (snow plowing, landscapers, etc.), over time these costs can add up and the cost of maintenance can exceed the level of enjoyment.”

3. Home expenses have increased

“Financial experts have stated that 30 per cent is the ideal number when it comes to housing costs - meaning that your monthly housing costs (mortgage payment, property taxes, utilities) should be approximately 30 per cent of your monthly budget. Achieving this threshold while employed often isn't too problematic, but as people leave the workplace and depend on their retirement income to fund their lifestyle, monthly budgets change and home expenses can easily rise over that 30 per cent mark. If not addressed promptly, this can result in the retiree having to work longer than planned or essential home maintenance can be postponed, which can affect the value of the home.”

4. You're the neighbourhood veteran

“It can seem like it happens overnight, but as your neighbours move on to their next phase in their life cycle and new families move into the area, suddenly you've been in your home for longer than the neighbourhood kids have been alive.  When new neighbours are beginning the life cycle phase you've recently finished, it's a strong indicator that it is time to transition into something more retirement-friendly. That doesn't necessarily mean moving out of the neighbourhood; there are often low-maintenance options available in these family-oriented neighourhoods.”

5. School district and work commute aren’t important to you

“You likely selected your family home due to its proximity to work, safety, and school district. In fact, a recent survey revealed, unsurprisingly, that school district was the most important factor when it came to buying a family home, and the second was the distance to work. But it's likely that both of these two factors aren't relevant any longer, and other factors have likely replaced these,  such as reducing monthly costs, home maintenance levels, or proximity to family or hospitals.”