Downsized Living for Empty Nesters and the Sixty Plus

Why 'empty nesters’ need smaller house designs? Because as we age, we need less space to live. Now is the time to think about selling the family house and getting something smaller as there’s no point in having more space than required. Find out how to make a small house a dream home? 

Small home plans and house designs are popularly sought after by empty nesters and retirees because they have attained an age where they no longer need to live in a large family house. Children are grown up and have moved away to start their own lives. And now, unused rooms in the home have become more of a liability than a necessity.

What is the point of having more space than you need? How do you keep up with the maintenance costs of a big half-empty house? 

There is a large population of baby boomers and sixty plus citizens who appreciate the value of downsized living. Times are different, and they don’t want to hold on to more than they need. First, it is not cost-effective and secondly, living in a half-occupied house can bring on a sense of loss and emptiness. So, what better time to build or buy a moderately-sized house than now.

Now is the opportunity to start a new experience. A new chapter. Liberation and a time to explore and rediscover life. It is a time to do the things once desired but never done. A time to resume a long-forgotten hobby, go back to school, learn a craft, travel, write some books, and move into your small dream home. The children’s bedrooms, bathrooms, playroom, and workroom are now redundant. You do not need so much space anymore.

Sell the Big Family House and Buy a Smaller One


Empty nesters can benefit off the investments they made in the course of their lives. The big house can be sold off, most likely with a sizeable profit. With this disposable income, empty nesters can provide for a brighter future with a better lifestyle.

Small house designs large enough for two must be stylish, aesthetically pleasing, efficient, adaptable, and practical. The house plans must come with the following features:


  • Open-plan spaces that flow seamlessly into each other
  • A medium-sized elegant kitchen area
  • Entertainment areas (indoors and outdoors)
  • Leisure zone
  • Spacious en-suite master bedroom
  • Dressing room
  • Visitor toilet
  • Good storage facilities
  • The work-from-home station, study, or craft room

Other favorites are:

  • Combined living and dining areas with an open kitchen
  • Vaulted ceilings
  • High ceilings
  • Fireplaces 
  • Minimal walls
  • Interior ramps instead of short steps
  • Open kitchens
  • Sun porch, patio, or deck
  • Pool garden 


Small home designs must be low-maintenance and energy-efficient. Being smaller than what many empty nesters have been used to practice all their lives does not mean giving up on luxury touches. The fact is, now that you are planning to live in a more compact residence, you can afford to splash out on a bit of luxury, more than you could ever have dreamed. 


If you plan to build a new house, your architect can design a small house plan to accommodate what you truly desire. The interior layout must incorporate most, if not all the features mentioned in the list above.


While most baby boomers’ favour the open plan arrangement of contemporary and modern home designs, some prefer to opt for traditional style home designs with their typical closed-concept. 

Critical Design Challenges 

There are critical design challenges that need attention. Because they are middle-aged, empty nesters should consider living in a one-level house than a one-storey building. A house with a staircase will require going up and down the stairs several times a day. Something that is not advisable as we grow older.


Living in an apartment or condo is fine. There are elevators to take you to higher flats. However, within the apartment, there must be no stairs. So, for those boomers planning to downsize, it’s best to build (or buy) a bungalow or at most a house with a split-level interior.


If, however, a one-storey building is the preferred choice, it is not a bad idea. The master bedroom and living areas must be on the ground floor and the second bedroom sited on the upper floor. The room on the upper floor can serve as the guest suite.


It is good to remember that as we age, challenges set in for some. Age-related ailments, physical challenges, and disabilities demand that we keep all our indoor activities to one floor. And for access to the deck, patio, or pool garden, it must flow seamlessly from the inside to the exterior.


At 60+, we love to laze in the sun, do some gardening, or generally potter around outside, so, it is best to ensure that the design allows for a wide clear walkway leading to the outdoors. And with no more than a few steps leading up and down. With physical challenges, it is good to have a ramp incorporated in the house for ease of movement indoors and outdoors. 

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