There is a lot of talk about downsizing these days, especially for the Baby Boomer generation as their children have grown and moved out and they make lifestyle changes for retirement. However, right-sizing is perhaps an even better way of looking at… and one that applies to all stages of life.

Right-sizing houses

Right-sizing is about more than just square footage and number of bedrooms/bathrooms.

Right-sizing can also mean a smaller carbon footprint, or living in a more walkable neighborhood so you aren't so dependent on your car. But right-sizing can also mean more square footage… or re-arranging your square footage to fit how you actually live.

Rather than thinking about the rooms you want, think about how you actually live… and think flexible space. Be careful not to buy a home to fit your 'stuff'… and also not to buy a home for once-a-year family gatherings. You could spend a lot of money (both initial investment and ongoing costs) on space you rarely use.

Think functionality rather than size… actually using all the space in your home on a regular basis. This could mean a move… or it could simply mean re-configuring the space you already have to suit your lifestyle.

Universal design is a big consideration for many… not just for Baby Boomers thinking about aging in place, but also for people in all generations thinking about welcoming people of all ages and physical conditions into their homes.

I currently have a listing where the sellers are downsizing… to a one-level in a 55+ community in New Mexico… to be close to their children and grandchildren in New Mexico and Texas. They are lucky that all three children live in cities not far from each other so the decision of where to move wasn't as difficult as it is for some (they chose to live in a 4th city)… but I digress.

What is significant about the home they are selling is that it is a 6-level townhouse… not as 'cool' a design as it was when it was built in the 1960s, but it worked well for this family. And they right-sized this home to make it even better for them.

Their home was the gathering home… for friends and family from all parts of the world. To right-size it for them, they made a big kitchen addition. They blew out walls to the dining room to create an immense gathering space perfect for hosting large groups, but with flexible space to also make it very livable when there were just the two of them. (Learn more about 7250 Dale #51)


While the six levels are not universal in design, it is a perfect example of flexible use for multiple generations. Some ways they used this space…

  • Many levels made unique privacy for multiple family units, including sound privacy
  • They were able to host extended stays from family and friends, sometimes at the same time
  • He was able to have an artist studio
  • She was able to have plenty room for her knitting
  • The lowest level has flexible use as a family room, office, studio, or spacious bedroom suite
  • Ample getaway space when you need some alone time
  • Great setup for an exchange student
  • How about space for an au pair or live-in nanny?

The bottom line is, everyone's lifestyle is different. Think about right-sizing your current space or looking for new space that fits how you live… or how you aspire to live.

Sharlene HensrudBaby Boomer Realtor

RE/MAX Results HomesMSP Team - SharleneJohnAngela Minneapolis-St. Paul Realtors


About Sharlene Hensrud

I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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