It’s surprising how often downsizers tell us that letting go of the guest room is one of the biggest reasons they decide to stay in their homes for longer than they may have liked.
Logistics vs. Emotions
While many young empty nesters continue to enjoy the family home during their kids’ college years and into young adulthood, many come to the realization that they could shift their current housing expenses and move to a home that offers an improved lifestyle or even just a well-deserved change for the better.
As with all major life decisions, each person or family arrive at a commitment to make a change on their own schedule. There are a wide array of both valid reasons and procrastination-related excuses that can impact readiness to make a change. However, some reasons that seem purely logistical in nature can turn out to be emotional instead.
Is the Guest Room Really Such a Big Deal?
A common concern we frequently hear is about how people will continue family traditions without the “spare room”. I suppose the deeper reason is a fear of losing contact with friends and family, and in particular people may think that if they don’t have a big dining room and guest space, then people will no longer come and visit them. Or worse, the fear that they will be left out of family plans altogether.
These fears are common and totally understandable, but whatever you do, don’t let the perceived need for a guest room deter you from making a positive change in your lifestyle. Whether it’s emotional concerns or logistical ones, the loss of the “spare room” doesn’t have to derail your ability to live life to the fullest.
Tips for dealing with the emotional side of letting go of the guest room:
- Face the issue head-on with your adult children. Thank them for understanding the trade-off you’re making and ask for their support. Also, consider the possibility that your adult children would rather have you come to them at certain times of the year, and that you may enjoy being the guest now.
- Take the lead on determining what new traditions may look like. Offer to plan a vacation, travel to visit, or help arrange local accommodations for friends and family. The first couple of years will be important to set new expectations and traditions, so be sure to get involved in the decision making early.
- Switch the mindset to one that perceives an upgrade for everyone involved. You’ll have more time, energy and freedom to spend time with family and friends without the responsibilities of maintaining a large home. Plan accordingly.
Tips for dealing with the logistical side of letting go of the guest room:
- First of all, buy a property with enough space to make yourself comfortable! No one said you have to live in a shoebox. There are plenty of options for condos, apartments, retirement communities, etc. that offer 2-or 3- bedroom configurations, and many communities offer common areas or short-term units that can be reserved for entertaining or houseguests.
- Do what feels right. Some families are completely accustomed to making do and stepping over sleeping people on the way to the coffee maker. For others, the best choice really is a quality hotel or Airbnb close by. Another idea is to host the grandkids while giving the adults separate accommodations, or gathering at a vacation home where everyone can be together (and share the work!)
- Make a multi-purpose space. The most common solution I’ve seen is the combination office/guest room. Some people will use daybeds with trundles (get one that pops up to the same height; it’s almost like having a king-sized guest bed), or a pull-out sofa works well also. As for air mattresses, fold-away cots or similar, there are tons of innovative options on the market. We’ve pulled together some Pinterest pins to show you what’s new.
Sometimes would-be downsizers will tell themselves that the ability to entertain on a large scale or host overnight guests is a reason to stay in a home that is too big and too much work. Don’t let this happen to you! There are plenty of ways to be happy and engaged that aren’t contingent on hosting guests in your home.