13 January . 2020
10 things to think about when downsizing for your next new home
If you’ve started to think about downsizing and moving to a new home that’s rightsized for a new chapter in your life – congratulations! Scaling down and simplifying can be a very exciting and fulfilling adventure.
Downsizing is much more than moving to a new home with less square footage, however. It’s about finding a new home with the right floor plan and features. It’s also about choosing a new home you’ll be happy to live in for many years to come, and one that can adapt and change as you do.
There’s also a lot to think about when selecting your new community. For example, do you want to live in an age-restricted neighborhood, or one that’s open to neighbors in all stages of life? What kind of design flexibility do you need right now, and what can you foresee needing in the future? What kinds of amenities would be best to give you the lifestyle you envision?
To help homebuyers who are thinking about downsizing, here are 10 things to think about that could help you find the perfect new home and community.
These tips are inspired by what we’ve learned talking with potential homebuyers interested in downsizing as we created Madrone Ridge, a new neighborhood in Sweetwater offering low-maintenance homes by Village Builders. Priced from the low $300,000s, these brand-new designs were created after dozens of conversations with homebuyers looking to scale down in the near future.
Now open, Madrone Ridge was also created to offer an exceptional lifestyle, with amenities such as the Overlook Club and Hilltop Park right inside the neighborhood, and with access to approximately 700 overall acres of parks, trails and natural open spaces throughout Sweetwater.
Having extra garage storage space is a priority for 85 percent of potential homebuyers, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ “What Home Buyers Really Want” report in 2019.
For homebuyers looking to downsize, storage is a top priority. After all, simplifying your life includes getting rid of offsite storage spaces, which mean monthly bills and extra trips to access your belongings. At the same, many homebuyers who are ready to downsize are not ready to get rid of their “stuff.” They may want to keep it to pass on to their kids, when they’re ready and established in their own homes. Or they just want to keep it for a myriad of reasons.
All new Village Builders home plans in Madrone Ridge were designed with extra storage in mind. All plans include large storage spaces inside the garage, and many plans also offer upstairs garage storage spaces, accessible by secure fixed staircases. Other plans offer flexible inside spaces that can be used for storage, as pet kennels or as hobby rooms.
Aging in place
An overwhelming majority of people prefers to stay in their homes as long as possible, according to research by the AARP Public Policy Institute.
The desire to grow older in the home you’ve lived in for years is known as aging in place. It’s much easier – and much less expensive – to age in place if your home has been designed to change with you. It’s possible to adapt an existing home for aging in place, although the cost of reinforcing walls for grab bars and redoing bathrooms can add up fast. And some built-in features of the home, such as the number of floors and the width of hallways and doorways, are difficult if not impossible to change.
All Village Builders homes at Madrone Ridge are designed with aging in place in mind. All plans are one-story designs, with the exception of one one-and-a-half story plan. All homes also have three-foot-wide hallways and wide doorways, for easy wheelchair access.
All plans offer options for aging in place, including a primary bath option that turns into a fully accessible space featuring a zero-threshold roll-in shower with grab bars, wall mounted fold-down seat, adjustable hand-held shower head, and vanity base cabinet with hot water protection skirt.
Village Builders has even tweaked its popular “drop zone” feature for aging in place. Most traditional drop zones feature backpack racks and low benches where family members can sit down and take off muddy shoes. For its new Madrone plans, Village Builders tweaked the drop zone to replace the backpack rack with upper and lower cabinets that are within easy reach, with a comfortable 36-inch countertop height so homeowners don’t have to bend over or kneel to set down packages.
Flexible floor plans
Nobody wants wasted space. When downsizing, it’s even more important that every room in the house functions for you, because there’s no room for unused or inefficient space. It’s also important that rooms can change their functions over the years, to grow and adapt with you.
Village Builders’ floor plans in Madrone Ridge offer built-in flexibility, at the time of construction and years later.
All of the plans include a garage storage area, with the option of building this area as interior, air-conditioned storage space or as a pet kennel. Whether as storage space or a kennel, both options include a window to provide natural light.
These plans also offer options for craft rooms and extra bedrooms, and there are numerous options to create accessible bathrooms and entire accessible living suites.
Downsizing, or smart sizing?
Instead of downsizing, think of your next home buying journey as an experience in smart sizing, or rightsizing.
According to Meyers Research, the average homebuyer in communities targeted at residents ages 55 and up choose floor plans ranging from 1,500 to 1,800 square feet. However, 30 percent of these homebuyers end up buying a larger home in the same community within a few years. They love where they live, but they find out that they want just a little more space.
But wouldn’t it be a lot easier to pick the right-sized new home to begin with, or to choose a plan that can change and adapt along with your life? Moving is expensive and a hassle, even if it’s just moving within the same neighborhood, and that’s not even considering the costs of selling your current home.
Village Builders’ home plans in Madrone Ridge range from approximately 1,700 to about 2,300 square feet, offering buyers a wide variety of choices. Some plans, such as the Eppright, which is showcased as a model home, offer an optional second floor with a large bonus room and full bath.
With built-in flexibility for storage, hobby rooms and other features, along with aging in place options, these plans can adapt and change along with their owners.
Home within a home
With its Next Gen plans offered at Madrone Ridge, Village Builders offers the possibility of multigenerational living, or other kinds of dual living situations, such as with live-in caretakers or other family members.
As showcased in Village Builders’ Afton II model home in Madrone Ridge, the Next Gen concept offers a “home within a home,” with a full living suite located within a traditional home.
Accessible from a private front porch entry, the Next Gen living suite includes a living room, kitchenette, bedroom, full bathroom and utility closet. A lockable door also opens to the main home’s foyer for interior access.
Elsewhere, the Afton II looks and feels just like a traditional home, with an open family, dining and kitchen area overlooking a covered patio. The primary bedroom suite is downstairs. Upstairs, this plan has a third bedroom with a full bath and walk-in closet.
The Next Gen series can be an ideal solution for some homebuyers, especially at a time when approximately 20 percent of Americans living in extended family households, according to the Pew Research Center.
Less space, more amenities
Homebuyers wanting to downsize are more than willing to give up excess square footage, trading unused space for a well-designed functional floor plan that is open, flowing, and easier and less expensive to maintain. But while they’re willing to give up space, downsizing homebuyers want to enjoy a high level of architectural details and technologies that make life easier.
Village Builders listened to homebuyers when designing its new plans for Madrone Ridge, and the results are evident inside and out. Village Builders created Hill Country architecture combining stone, brick and stucco for its classic exteriors, with welcoming front porches and covered patios that take full advantage of the views surrounding Madrone Ridge.
Inside, these homes are filled with thoughtful touches, such as built-in window seats in all primary bedroom suites, offering a feeling of extra light and spaciousness, and providing a practical place to sit and add extra touches of color and décor.
Built-in window seats are also included in the breakfast and casual dining areas in many Village Builders plans in Madrone Ridge.
Wide hallways and doorways are practical for homebuyers looking to age in place, and they also add to the feeling of spaciousness and openness in these plans.
One floor or more?
One-story floor plans, sometimes called ranch plans, are increasing in popularity, accounting for about 42 percent of all new homes built in the United States, according to Census Bureau data analyzed by the National Association of Home Builders.
In Texas, where land is more plentiful than other parts of the country, the one-story home is king, accounting for 55 percent of new homes.
One-story plans are the preferred choice for homebuyers seeking to downsize, with 75 percent of baby boomers saying they want a single-story, the NAHB found.
The advantages are evident, especially for homebuyers who are tired of climbing stairs and looking ahead to aging in place. Other advantages of one-story homes include open layouts, usually with the kitchen at the center, and high ceilings that impart a feeling of airiness and spaciousness.
All of Village Builders’ homes in Madrone Ridge are one-story plans, and many offer the option of upstairs storage space in the garage. Village Builders also offers a selection of one-and-a-half story plans, with an upstairs bonus room and bathroom that can be used as an extra bedroom, a gameroom, or a combination of uses.
Lifestyle is more a function of the community you choose rather than the home itself, but it is just as important, if not more so.
At the time that many of us are thinking about downsizing, we’ve entered the “Now What?” phase of life. The kids are out of school, so it’s no longer necessary to choose a community solely or mainly for its schools. Some homebuyers who are downsizing want to maintain close to their established networks of family and friends. Others may want to set out on a totally new adventure and discover a new part of the country.
With a location that’s been described as “where Austin meets the Hill Country,” Sweetwater offers the best of both worlds. Residents enjoy easy access to the booming Austin metropolitan area, and they are just a short drive away from the Texas Hill Country, where parks, wineries, trails and antiques stores beckon for day trips and longer visits. Btw, Sweetwater is part of the highly acclaimed Lake Travis Independent School District, which bodes well for resale values, even if you don’t have kids in school.
Age-restricted, or everyone is welcome?
Some neighborhoods with appeal to homebuyers seeking to downsize are “age-restricted,” which typically means that at least one member of the household must be at least 55 years old.
These types of communities are very popular with some homebuyers. For example, Sun City Texas in Georgetown is age-restricted and is consistently one of the top-selling communities for new homes in the Austin metro area.
Other communities, such as Madrone Ridge in Sweetwater, offer new homes that are designed to appeal to downsizers and empty nesters, but are not age-restricted. “Age targeted” is a term that’s sometimes used to describe such communities, but we like the description, “everyone is welcome.”
In a neighborhood like Madrone Ridge, it’s likely that most of the neighbors will be empty nesters, because of the design of the rightsize one-story homes offered by Village Builders. But these homes could just as well appeal to young professionals who travel a lot for work, and want to be able to “lock and leave” for extended periods. The same could be true of prime-age homebuyers ranging in age up to their mid-fifties.
It all has to do with personal preference. Do you want to live in an age-restricted community, or one where you are likely to encounter neighbors of every age?
Some retirement-oriented communities, such as Sun City Texas, are huge, and every neighborhood within them is age-restricted. Sun City, for example, covers 4,100 acres and is planned for approximately 14,000 residents at completion.
Madrone Ridge, by contrast, is an intimate neighborhood within a larger master-planned community. While not age-restricted, Madrone Ridge is likely to appeal to homebuyers over the age of 50. But this neighborhood is part of a 1,400-acre community that’s home to a wide variety of residents of all ages, so you’ll find diversity everywhere, from the Sweetwater Club to the miles of trails that meander throughout the community.
What are the amenities?
If you’re downsizing, there’s a strong chance that one reason you’re doing so is to enjoy extra time doing the things you love. If your passions include recreation and socializing, it’s a good idea to do a deep dive into the recreational amenities and social activities offered in any community you might be considering.
As a neighborhood within a larger community, Madrone Ridge offers residents access to approximately 700 acres of parks, trails and natural open space.
Swimming and socializing are the main attractions at the Overlook Club, located within Madrone Ridge and open to all residents of Sweetwater.
Swimming is recognized as one of the overall healthiest and low-impact forms of exercise, and the Overlook Club offers two unique pools connected by a waterfall. One pool is designed for lap swimming, while the other freeform pool is geared toward freeform swimming, splashing and sunbathing.
The clubhouse at the Overlook Club is all about socializing, with several indoor and outdoor areas for gatherings of different sizes. There is also a catering kitchen and restroom facilities. Residents are able to reserve the Overlook Club for their private events, and the club also hosts community events and activities.
Just simply relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery all around is another activity at the Overlook Club, which looks down on scenic Bee Creek and is surrounded by miles-long views of the Hill Country. Decks and balconies around the swimming pools and clubhouse offer plenty of places to just sit and take in the views. For something a little more active, there’s a putting green right outside the clubhouse.
Residents of Madrone Ridge also enjoy all the other amenities of Sweetwater, including the 10-acre Sweetwater Club, which offers a freestanding fitness center, a swimming pool, clubhouse, sports fields and the Sunset Pavilion. Sweetwater also has miles of trails, rated from easy to challenging.
Sweetwater is also a very social community, with a Lifestyle Director who plans events and activities for residents of all ages. These include community-wide festivals, exercise classes, men’s and women’s group activities, and field trips to nearby restaurants and pubs.
Ready to learn more about the new Village Builders homes in Madrone Ridge? See all of their available floor plans at our Homefinder.
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