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Pre- and Post-Retirement Square Footage
Old 08-03-2012, 12:03 PM   #1
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Pre- and Post-Retirement Square Footage

For those who are retired (early or otherwise) AND who moved in connection with retirement, how large was your pre-retirement home? How large is your current retirement home? If you downsized, upsized or otherwise made a significant change in the size/type of home, what thoughts do you have on your decision? To what degree did you take guests (friends for the weekend, family, grandkids, etc.) into consideration when sizing your retirement home?

Since I'm asking, here's my info:

- Pre-retirement: about 2500 sq. ft. 3 BR 2 1/2 bath home with family room and sun room in the 'burbs. Large unfinished bsmnt. Small lot.

- Post retirement: about 1850 sq. feet on main level and upstairs + partially finished walkout bsmt adding about 600 sq. feet of living space. 3 BR but each on a different floor. 3 baths. Bsmnt. level BR used as a family room; also a den in bsmt. Have rooms we rarely use (e.g., upstairs BR for guests) but when we need it we really need it. Too much land. Bottom line: pretty much the same square footage we had pre-retirment but divided up much, much differently.

Why I'm asking: considering a move and am trying to rethink what we really need; other experiences always helpful.


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Old 08-03-2012, 12:11 PM   #2
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Sorry I can't answer directly, since I am not retired, but we would like to have the same size house (3200 sq ft with about 1100 sq ft finished walkout basement). Just newer.

The big deal now is to have everything on the same floor so no one has to climb stairs, but just think what a ginormous ROOF that requires, compared to a 2-story house of the same square footage. And what it will cost to replace that roof one day.


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Old 08-03-2012, 12:13 PM   #3
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Pre-retirement, 3400 sq. ft. three bedroom ranch, on acre and a half in a ten acre woods in west central Ohio. Post-retirement 1800 sg. ft. three bedroom ranch with a postage stamp lawn in a subdivision in NW Georgia just outside of Chattanooga.

The downsizing was liberating and taking care of the new place is so, so much easier and the move was to be closer to the grandkids. No regrets whatsoever and love the winters here as compared to Ohio.
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:16 PM   #4
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3,500 sq ft, 5 bed with pool, 3 full bathrooms.


1,236 sq ft, 2 bed, 2 full bathrooms.

We don't have many guests so 1 spare bedroom is just fine for us. Initially we moved into a 3 bed place but after 2 years we realized that we didn't need the 3rd bedroom so downsized again about 9 months ago. (We sold the big house and now rent, so the 2nd move was very easy)
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:19 PM   #5
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We went from a Split Level in NY to a Ranch house in Fla.. We went to a ranch because we wanted to get rid of stairs for our old age. The homes are about the same size but we lost the basement in Florida. We have just under 2600 Sq Ft under air in Florida with 4 bedrooms and 3 full baths. One of the bedrooms we use for an office.

Only thing I'd change is I'd like a 3 car garage instead of the 2 1/2 we have now.
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:44 PM   #6
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I am retired, but haven't moved yet at this point.

I have a guest bedroom, but will not require one in any future home. Guests can either stay in a nearby motel, or sleep on an air mattress, that can be inflated with an electric pump in whatever room they like. Either of these solutions are much cheaper than paying for extra square footage if there is a smaller house with no guest bedroom that would suffice. After all, who am I buying a house for, me or my guests?

Possibly I might choose a larger home some day due to perfect location (next door to F? for example), but I will not reject a smaller home due to lack of a guest bedroom.

Right now my house is 1600 square feet. This is way more than big enough for me in retirement; 1300 sq ft or less would be fine. I am somewhat flexible about square footage, although if/when I move, I would require a house under 2500 square feet. Over that would be in the realm of ridiculousness if just for me alone.
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:54 PM   #7
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Pre-retirement our main home was a ~2,700 sf split ranch with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 car garage, a pool and 1.6 acres. We had ~1,400 above grade and ~1,300 about 50% below grade (family room, 1/2 bath, laundry, office, storage, utility). The reason that I am elaborating is I know that sf gets counted differently in different parts of the country.

We also had a lakeside home that was about 970 sf - 3 bedrooms and one bath with a one car garage.

So about 3,700 sf +/- in total excluding the garages.

We demolished our lakeside home and rebuilt on the same foundation with a walkout basement and now have ~2,000 sf with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths and the same one car garage. We designed so the main floor includes the kitchen, dining area, living room and master bedroom suite so we can live on one floor if we need to and we made all doorways, etc. wide enough for a wheelchair and the stairway wide enough for a lift.

We sold our main home and now live year round in the renovated lakeside home.

Going from two homes to one was a huge blessing financially and enabled me to early retire. However, compressing from a total of 3,600 sf with three garage bays to ~2,000 sf and a one car garage has been painful given that DW is bit of a packrat (albeit a loveable packrat).
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:56 PM   #8
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Pre-retirement: Two story plus daylight basement--3900 sq ft.
Retired: One story with daylight--2400 sq ft and still too much. Converted two bedrooms on main floor to master suite with bath. Two bedrooms in basement.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:10 PM   #9
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We moved, though not in connection with retirement. Previously 2,500 sqft, 4-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house. Currently 1,100 sqft, 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment. The plan is to move back into the house when DW retires but the smaller apartment feels so right for us that we may change our minds.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:17 PM   #10
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Pre-retirement: Two-story house, 2800 SF, 4 beds, 3.25 baths, on 2 acres in OKC.

Post-retirement: One level, 940 SF, 2 beds, 2 baths, co-op in SoCal.

Downsizing: tremendously liberating.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:24 PM   #11
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Retired, still in ~2,900 sf 2-story including a 400 sf addition furnished with a MIL. Until the MIL situation changes likely to remain. Likely to move closer to beach, or not, but would give anything to slide a nice basement under this place for all my shop tools that crowd the garage. We're on a lake in a subdivision about 20 years old, where of course they maximized # of lots so there is little yard to care for. Don't care to really downsize, just change use of the space.
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:01 PM   #12
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Current home is two story 2300 sf 4 bedroom/2.5 bath w unfinished basement. Retirement home will be a one story 1500 sf +/- 200 sf 3 bed/2 bath. We're completely sure we'll be comfortable because we never use our formal living room, formal dining room (it's empty, we sold the dining room set), or 2 of the bedrooms. Only concern is storage if we relocate to a region where basements aren't typically available. Easy peasy, can't wait to enjoy lower prop taxes, utilities, maintenance, etc. costs...
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:10 PM   #13
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Retired, but still live in the same house and not likely to move. 1800 square feet of living space, a two car garage and small lot. Our house is on one stairs.

We find this square footage works well as we're not bumping into each other all of the time.
There's no need to complicate, our time is short..
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:10 PM   #14
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I wouldn't be surprised if I have the smallest living space of anyone in the ER community. I have lived in a 300 sq ft co-op apartment in NYC for over 10 years. The actually living space is about 275 sq ft. This was ideal while I was working and accumulating my nest egg, but now that I am retired and spending more time at home I am feeling very stir crazy. I would like to step up to a larger place but in NYC that would be tricky given how expensive real estate is here. Ironically, I could sell my little place and use the proceeds to buy a very nice condo or townhouse in virtually any other community in the US and have money left over. I am beginning to look into options, and the "where have you lived" thread has been thought provoking.

I know this doesn't help you much with your question, but I thought you would be interested to know that some of us are looking at "upsizing" into a retirement residence not downsizing.
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Old 08-03-2012, 03:10 PM   #15
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I hesitate to respond as we are clearly outliers. We went the oher way and bought two more houses (Alberta, and Arizona) adding to the lake house and condo we had at retirement. Went from about 5,000 sq ft to 14,000 sq ft. Crazy I know. Total house expenses are about 25% of our total spend. Real estate value is a little under 20% of net worth.
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Old 08-03-2012, 03:17 PM   #16
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Home #1 - 2700 sq.ft., 5 BR, 3 bath, 2-story, diving pool, suburban lot.

Home #2 - 1700 sq.ft., 3 BR, 2 bath, chalet style with 25-ft high beam, lots of glass, front and rear decks, panoramic view, better built than #1 and cost just a little bit more, big hillside lot, detached garage.

Home #3 - 200 sq.ft. motor home, 7.4L, 9 MPG towing a "dinghy", DIY suspension improvement for cross-wind driving (need bragging here!)

I love all three and will keep them all.
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Old 08-03-2012, 03:46 PM   #17
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2600 sq ft ranch with a basement
now 1462 single level w 3 bed, 2 baths with .25 acre
downsizing again to a 1350 with 2 bed and 2 baths, but bigger "living" space and no grass to mow (yes!)
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Old 08-03-2012, 03:52 PM   #18
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I had a 2200' house in Silicon Valley before retiring and my current place is just over 2000'. Way to much space for a single person, although when I bought both places there was a second person involved. Inertia kept me from downsizing like I should.
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:02 PM   #19
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Primary: 3400sf 4/3.5/2 two story on .25 acres
Secondary: 1890sf 3/2/0 one story on an acre of waterfront

Once I retire, both will be sold and we will most likely settle into something in the 2500-2800sf range.
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:26 PM   #20
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Two moves:
In 2006 (oldest of 2 children to college) sold 4 bedroom 3000 sf home on small-ish lot with a pool and moved to 3 bedroom 1700 sf high rise condo. The intent was to get my equity out and get rid of all exterior home chores as I was working crazy long hours and tired of raking etc. I liked the ease of the condo and the down-size was very liberating, still had a bedroom for the college girl when she came home.
In 2011 (youngest off to college) sold the condo at a 10% loss and moved east/retired. Bought a 2 bedroom townhouse with a small backyard (I missed raking leaves!) with 1600 sf, finished the basement to make a 3rd bedroom. Love it. Hope I can still climb stairs in 20 years because I don't ever want to move from here!
The most important criteria for me in retirement was walkability to everything in my community and no bigger than 1800 sf for ease of upkeep/utility bills.

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