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6 Unconventional Ways to Downsize Your Home

6 Unconventional Ways to Downsize Your Home

Downsizing your home is one of the ways people finance their retired lifestyle. It’s not just for financial peace of mind.

It might be that you want to shed the responsibilities of repainting the flaky ceiling, mowing the lawn, and fixing the squeaky door.

Or maybe you’re an empty nester looking forward to that dream retirement lifestyle. Your empty home now feels like a millstone in the guise of the place where you live.

Perhaps it’s a combination. You’re worried that your home is now really beyond your means. And, you want to feel free as air. Suddenly, it comes to you. Upsize your life by downsizing your house! Use the released equity to fund the adventurous life that you dreamed of for your retirement. Or just buy into a new way of life.

You want to do something gloriously different. But what and how? Take a look at these 7 wacky and unconventional ways to live life differently in retirement.

The AirBnB Retirement Lifestyle of Travel 

My admiration goes out to the senior nomads, Michael and Debbie Campbell from Seattle who way back in 2013 took off to live in AirBnB’s for their retirement. They loved it so much that in 2015 they sold their house! They say on their blog, “Our goal was to live our daily lives in other people’s homes just as we would if we’d retired in Seattle – so far the experience has been everything we’d hoped for.”

Their story is one of amazing travel and adventures. They’ve now stayed in over 265 AirBnB’s in more than 300 cities in 85 countries. And Michael told me that the pandemic has not stopped them. They are looking forward to many more years on the road.

Read more about this great way to downsize here. It’s incontrovertibly unconventional!

Downsize to a Boat

When my husband and I became empty-nesters, we did up the house and then decided that it didn’t really work for us. We wanted to downsize so that we could travel without having the problems of a garden.

We didn’t find anywhere that was just right. But I did see an advert for a houseboat. We found a Dutch barge in Germany and took it on a nerve-wracking journey down the Dutch canals to Harlingen where we had it refitted to modern standards.

The main living space was an open kitchen living room with central heating, built-in German kitchen with dishwasher, gas hob and full-sized, built-in fridge freezer, bathroom with bathtub, shower, washing machine and drier, and two cabins with built-in wardrobes.

We took the boat back across the English Channel and up the River Thames to moor it in Docklands, right in the heart of the new financial center for London.

Then, we gave her up after we moved abroad. We still live on a boat for 5 or 6 months of the year when we can. And we have a number of friends who live on boats either part or full time.

Try an RV to Realize Your Travel Dreams

If you’re not so keen on water but your dream is to roam the country, then the RV lifestyle could be for you. Apparently, more than 1 million Americans have retired to the road and AARP has lots of advice on how to do it.

Margo Armstrong thinks the ‘RV lifestyle is a dream come true’. (And that just happens to be the title of one of her books.) She has been living in an RV for 26 years and 11 of them have been on her own. She has two websites and a podcast, all about the RV life. She’s written 10 books, all available on Amazon.

She’ll tell you exactly how to go about the RV lifestyle. She knows all about special opportunities for RV-ers, the best rigs, the best parks, the best places to see. She tells you how to earn extra income or live rent-free by working in National Parks or RV parks.

Margo is a walking advert for the joys of the RV life.  What a way to fulfill that dream of traveling. Why not take it for a test drive?

Snowbirds in Reverse – Winter in the Mountains and Summer by the Sea

Florida and Mexico are filled with snowbirds running from the cold of the winter to a warm winter in the south. Our Swedish friends are similar, spending the winters in Portugal and the summers in the beauty of those Swedish islands in the Baltic Sea.

But friends Pierre and Jadranka do exactly the opposite! They downsized from a large house in London after all the children had left home. They have a beautiful apartment in the mountains in Switzerland and an apartment on the stunning coast of Croatia.

And, they enjoy the snow in winter and swimming in the sea in summer.  It’s the kind of healthy life that encourages longevity.

The Co-housing Movement

Imagine having friends nearby to do things with and all the maintenance of your own place taken care of. It could make life as you age a whole lot more fun.

Based on a Danish housing concept from the 1960s, the cohousing movement is designed to foster connections with people with whom you share values. The idea is gaining ground both in the US and in Europe.

Take a look at these case studies. Some projects are intergenerational, others are designed to be green, some are only for women and some are specially designed for older people.

Residents own their own homes but pay towards communal expenses for communal facilities. The residents are responsible for how the community functions and achieving the right balance between privacy and community for that group.

The unifying idea is to build connections and community, to help people live satisfying, rich lives, where all the members are nurtured and thrive, whatever their age.

Build or Move to your Own Eco-house

If you are concerned about the environment and climate change, try downsizing your consumption of the planet’s resources with an eco-house. If they are built to the highest standards, they are carbon neutral. You can generate your own electricity, selling excess to the electricity company.

Or you can take on the project of a lifetime and build your own eco-house. An engineer friend of mine built himself a beautiful house from wood that looked like a traditional farmhouse.

It’s quite possible to make one from traditional materials such as cob, mud, straw, cork, or soil. I even saw one in Spain built into the rock.

You benefit from tiny running costs. Plus, there is the bonus of a splendid feeling of moral superiority! Find out more here.

Your Downsizing Retirement Lifestyle

The big question is how you’re going to live after you’ve downsized. So, dream up your dream retirement lifestyle and fund it by downsizing your home.

Imagine that you’ve let your imagination run riot on what you could do in that dream retirement. Maybe you could be like Margo and travel in an RV. Or like my husband and me, go for a life on the ocean wave.

If your environmental conscience pricks you (as ours does), then try an eco-house. Or if you worry about feeling isolated and lonely as you age, look for a co-housing community.

There are so many ways to make your life in retirement more interesting and downsizing can be the way to realizing your dream retirement lifestyle.

Do you have questions about the downsizing lifestyle? Ask your questions at the bottom of this page. We want to hear from you!

This article was written by Rosemary Bointon. She helps older people work out what to do now to live longer, in better health with more fun and adventures. She’s a certified content writer. You can find her at,, and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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  1. What a great and informative article. So much information here. My husband and I sold everything and bought a one way ticket to Europe six years ago. I would do it all over again. Thanks for all the tips Rosemary! A great read!

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