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Thinking of Downsizing - What are Your Options?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253

Despite the all-encompassing label of “senior,” it is a mistake to assume that all seniors make the same decisions at the same time.  Instead, some seniors choose to age in place in the community they know well while others choose to move closer to family.  Some seniors decide to move to an active 55+ community with golf and tennis while others want to move to a college town with lots of mental stimulation.  Some of the seniors who delay moving from the family home finally choose to move to a transitional community which can take them from independent living through to assisted living or memory care while others refuse to move until the last moment, leaving it to their children to move them to an assisted living facility.  

This is a summary of the three primary types of moves made by those labeled as seniors

Amenity Based Decisions:

These individuals and/or couples are seeking a certain type of lifestyle and their home is only one component of a much larger picture. When looking to sell, they are usually transferring their equity from one home to the next and can usually either pay cash or put a significant down payment towards their purchase. Depending upon employment status, they may be moving across the country for more appealing climates or seeking a place near an airport making it easier to commute. Some are moving closer to kids and grandkids, while others are moving to destination locations where the family can enjoy visiting.

Communities like the Villages in Florida immediately come to mind and the Del Webb communities around the country.  Admittedly the choice does not have to be a planned community for active seniors but instead could be a move to Vail for skiing or the Florida Keys for sailing.  If you want to stay in the DC metro area, there are a number of condo/coop communities to consider such as the Promenade at Pooks Hill, which has a good number of retirees who love the indoor and outdoor pools, the restaurant in the building, the tennis and pickle ball courts and the hair salon downstairs across from the gym.   The Promenade is an active community with book clubs and mahjong and lots of planned events. 

Some people choose a college town as their retirement choice.   Check to see if the college or university will let you audit classes for free or attend guest lectures.  It gives you a chance to listen to world leaders and continue learning even into retirement.   Another factor that argues in favor of college towns is the likelihood of the availability of good healthcare since many college/university towns have medical schools and hospitals with doctors who are current on best medical practices.  My husband went to Gettysburg College several times a week after he retired to classes auditt the Civil War Institute.  I am sure that if we lived closer to Gettysburg, he would still be taking classes there.  

Social engagement, including quality family and friend connectedness, are key decision-making elements for people looking for amenities in their next move.


As people age, they may begin to experience changes in personal health status or become the caregiver of a spouse requiring additional care. When this occurs, people may find their current home unmanageable or no longer suited for their current situation. Moving means simplifying and making preparations for future care needs and support. With this type of move, seniors are typically looking to either buy or lease a property with minimal maintenance, accessibility features, and in close proximity to quality healthcare. Family members and adult children may be called upon at this stage to assist, and will often have some influence in the relocation process.

In the DC metro area there are a number of places such as Maplewood, Fox Hills, both in Bethesda, Knollwood and the Residences at Thomas Circle both in DC, all which offer independent living with a transition to assisted living or memory care.   I think it is important to know what options are available as your life progresses because none of us is sure what about our future needs. 


While most people intend to live independently until they die, unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. As health declines to the point where more support is needed than can be provided for within the person’s home and community, relocation is necessary. This move may involve selling the personal residence and relocating to a senior living community or into the home of a family member. In many cases, needs-based moves involve caregivers and/or family members as additional decision makers. Late-life moves involving frail elderly or those experiencing illnesses or disease processes can be highly emotionally charged and necessitate a level of empathy in addition to real estate competency.  


Timing, health status, and caregiver support are keys to decision-making.

If you know someone in the DC metro area dealing with a downsizing relative or someone contemplating their own move to a more manageable living situation, please call me at 240-401-5577 or email me at lise@lisehowe.com.  I would love to help them.  









Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Nina Hollander, Broker - thanks for your kind words!  We are definitely not one size fits all! 

May 06, 2024 04:59 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em: golfArizona@cox.net

We are a split couple.  Pam would want the College town and I would want the golf.  We will figure it out. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your upcoming week.

Bill Salvatore, Realtor- Arizona Elite Properties

May 06, 2024 05:03 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

What I have discovered is downsizing out here is for the weather and/or nearness to family.  Large properties respective to acreage may become overwhelming. Your points are succinct and so accurate.

May 06, 2024 05:17 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Leanne Smith - thank you - there is a part of me that would love to have a goat farm but from what I hear they require a lot of maintenance - and can't give birth to kids on their own. 

May 06, 2024 05:26 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Bill Salvatore - East Valley  - that sounds like a high class problem to have! 

May 06, 2024 05:27 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Anyone thinking of downsizing should definitely call the Bethesda Condo Queen and explore their options!

May 06, 2024 05:57 AM
Michael Elliott
Fathom Realty - Burlington Township, NJ
Burlington, New Jersey Residential Sales

Great info here, Lise.   I am sure this is on my horizon as well, perhaps 5-7 years from now?

May 06, 2024 06:10 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Happy Monday Lise and having a based is important and the older I get the more I need to think about downsizing also.


May 06, 2024 07:42 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Will Hamm - I am sure lots of us are thinking those thoughts - for you I hope your next home has a big kitchen!!

May 06, 2024 08:02 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Michael Elliott - agreed - life is long now and we will all live in many homes.  My mother always said she was leaving the house I grew up in feet first - and then my dad died and she lived in Virginia in 2 locations, Florida, New York and the Dominican Republic after that.   She eventually died in DC about 3 miles from the house I grew up in but there were lots of other places in between

May 06, 2024 08:04 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Brian England - you are always so very kind to me. Thank you very much!  

May 06, 2024 08:05 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Lise,

What a great post. You are right none of get to pick our health issues so our living expect actions can change before we can blink. I like the fact we all have options and so many choices..there is no right answer when it comes to downsizing or I like to say smart sizing.

May 06, 2024 09:23 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Dolores and I are among the seniors who should be downsizing. 

Have an outstanding week.

May 06, 2024 09:50 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Six years I moved into a patio home - a ranch for one-story living.    It is the same SF as the last house, just laid out differently.   It works for me.

May 06, 2024 09:50 AM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint-Idaho
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Differences aside Lise, that picture shows a VERY common attribute.  White white hair, which I would have should I have any.  lol   m

May 06, 2024 10:36 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Lise-as Larry and I have become like fine wine and aged, I told him not to use the word "downsize" because it sounds so negative. I like the word "right-size." All of us over a certain age are different, so you have to decide what works for you. 

May 06, 2024 02:25 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Ten years ago we bought our home.... I wanted to add a second level... addition to make it bigger... Diane said no... now we do not need to downsize we are comfortable where we are and do not need to move again.... Endre

May 06, 2024 09:28 PM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

We work with many in the 55+ communities, and they are moving for a more leisure lifestyle!

May 07, 2024 06:16 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Lise, this brought to mind several episodes of Grace and Frankie where their well-meaning children sort of tricked them into moving to an over 55 community. It didn't work out too well!

I'm waiting for a change in the capital gains taxes before I decide what to do.

May 12, 2024 10:04 AM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

A lot of my Baby Boomer friends are starting to both Retire & Downsize . Many want to buy ( and redecorate) their new home before selling their current property ( via a Swing Loan ) …

May 14, 2024 10:08 AM