4 Reasons Why Some Boomers Don’t Want to Downsize Anymore

published Feb 16, 2023
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A traditional home located in a urban neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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Life has many phases, and folks tend to choose a home based on their current needs. Couples may get away with having a one-bedroom apartment, but once a child or two come along, a growing family usually means more extensive living arrangements. Of course, not all home purchase decisions depend on the number of family members, but as life goes on, many eventually consider downsizing

As people age, there tends to be less of a need for stuff, and once kids move out of the house, multiple rooms may go unused. Once teeming with life, a large home can start to feel empty, which may be a reason to downsize. Or is it? Many baby boomers are in the phase of life traditionally dedicated to simplifying, moving, and aging. However, with vibrant lives and more than one reason to stay put, here’s why some of today’s baby boomers are refusing to downsize

They’ve found their dream home.

Everyone is different in what they want in a house. Some crave floor-to-ceiling windows, while others desire a fully stocked chef’s kitchen. After finally finding the perfect place, it can be challenging to let it go. After author and speaker Jan Cullinane and her husband retired from their primary careers, they decided to build their dream home. “We knew we needed two separate offices,” says Cullinane. Their design also includes an elevator if they can’t maneuver the steps in the future, which means that they can age in place in a house they love.

They need a space for family gatherings.

Folks are more transient nowadays, which means that when children leave home, they may never live near their parents again. “We have three adult married children living in different cities and five grandchildren, and we wanted a place that would accommodate all of us,” Cullinane adds. “We have never regretted our choices, and having a big house makes for a happier marital relationship and close family ties.” Having a place to get together for family vacations and holidays becomes increasingly important for those in the boomer generation.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Styling: Alex Brannian

They’re concerned about the cost of moving.

Many baby boomers have been in their homes for years, meaning they’ve either paid off most of their mortgage or made the purchase when the market was more stable. Illinois real estate broker Betsy Phillips has seen market fluctuations and understands the boomer generation’s uneasiness. “Baby boomers are not downsizing because it often costs more than staying put,” she advises. For example, homes with main-level bedrooms are hard to come by and may require updating, and land and construction costs are expensive for new builds. “Basically, they stay because there is no place to go,” adds Phillips.

They want a sense of nostalgia.

Part of making a house a home is creating memories, which are difficult to give up. It’s why many decide to linger. “Many baby boomers desire to remain in their homes for as long as possible due to sentimental attachments,” says designer Sage Stone. Older generations also tend to save meaningful items and may need a larger space to store and display their mementos. Additionally, the task of wading through decades of belongings can seem daunting. “Ultimately, they may not want to go through this hassle, especially at an advanced age,” Stone adds. Being surrounded by familiarity in their own home is meaningful and comforting.