September 5th, 2018 at 11:00 am


The kids have either graduated for the last time or are back at college and have moved out for good (you hope). You’re now officially an “empty nester.”

Whether you’re retired or still working, you have lots of options for transitioning to the next stage of your life: downsize, remodel, rent out a room or the whole house, or travel. Here’s a closer look at how you might approach them in the years ahead.

Go into makeover mode

With all that extra space in your home and more time to spend on yourself, what should you do with their old bedrooms and other spaces they occupied? Many parents struggle with their new empty-nest status. But the one thing you might not want to consider doing is keeping a room exactly the way it was. Converting the room into a space you can get some use out of is a great way to distract yourself from your now-empty home.

An office or guestroom are obvious suggestions, but here are a few more:

Rent out a room or two

Depending on your financial and social situations, you could rent out a room or two after minimal updating, like new beds, dressers, and desks. You’ll have to be ready to go back into “roommate mode,” which isn’t for everyone. But if you have a room with a separate entrance and its own bathroom, this could be an ideal setup.

If you’re looking for flexibility on who can stay in the updated rooms and when, and you’re not averse to being a gracious host, think about turning some of your home into an Airbnb. You can accept paid guests on your own terms, and since they’ll probably be using your home mostly as a place to sleep at night, you should have lots of privacy. Learn how to get started here.

Rent out the whole house

If you need time to ponder your future, consider renting or leasing your home to some tenants. While being a landlord has its pros and cons, your rental income potentially could cover the cost of renting an apartment or another residence, plus give you some extra spending money.

Be sure to read our 3 Things to Consider Before Renting Out Your Home post to learn about the process.

Hit the road

Another appealing option is to take this opportunity to travel while making up your mind. Renting or buying an RV gives you the chance to travel and scope out potential areas where you might want to move permanently. Take time to envision what kind of travel piques your interest and start planning.

Move down a few hundred square feet

If you don’t want to fix up the kids’ rooms and feel you don’t need as much space to roam around in, downsizing could be just the ticket. By now you’ve probably built a lot of equity in your home, so selling it and buying a smaller place might be appealing. An experienced real estate agent can help you find a home in an area where you’ve always wanted to live, like by the coast, in the desert, or in the mountains.

Declutter either way

Whether you’re moving or staying put, take the time to declutter your home. According to one study, 75 percent of those surveyed said the amount of things they own makes them reluctant to move. Don’t let that scare you off. Start paring down one room, one closet, one square foot at a time.

Still have questions about the next steps to take as an empty nester? Connect with one of our experienced real estate agents who can talk to you about your selling, buying, and renting options.

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