This Is the Perfect Size for a Retirement Home

Some may call it "downsizing," but we call it just right.

Couples who are approaching retirement age typically have one of two goals when it comes to their homes: Stay in the larger family home they've lived in for decades with the intention of being the gathering spot for children and grandchildren coming to visit, or sell that bigger house that likely is 75-percent empty most of the year and plan on downsizing to a more appropriately sized home. If you fall into the latter category, it can be tricky to determine how much space you and your spouse actually need, especially if you've been accustomed to living in a 4- or 5-bedroom house.

Since Southern Living has so many unique house plans in our collection, we've come to learn which are the best and most-loved layouts for each stage of life. And if you ask us, the perfect size for a retirement home is 1,500 square feet. That may sound small (again, especially for anyone used to sprawling out in 2,000 or 3,000 square feet), but when you look at plans that maximize that square footage, it's clear that this size really provides the right amount of space—not too small that you still can't host family gatherings and out-of-town guests, but not more space and bedrooms than you actually need or will realistically use.

Nautical Cottage, Plan #224

Southern Living

In fact, Southern Living Homes Program Manager Lil Petrusnek says 1,500 square feet is the perfect size house for just about anyone. According to her, the key to making the most of your space in a home around that size is building larger rooms that serve multiple purposes—like a combined kitchen and dining area—and making the most of your outdoor spaces.

Most empty nesters still want the space to feed and entertain large groups, which is why downsizing to a small condo or townhome can be unappealing. Sticking with a house that's around 1,500 square feet certainly doesn't limit the size of your kitchen, living, or dining areas.

The Sugarberry Cottage plan features a gracious main floor, with a large kitchen that opens right up to the combined living and dining area, all of which is surrounded by a wraparound porch that extends the home's livable space outside. The Whisper Creek, Farmdale Cottage, and Nautical Cottage all prioritize large open floor plans as well, while either skimping on the size of additional bedrooms and the number of extra bathrooms.

Many couples heading into their golden years will also consider prioritizing single-level living—something Southern Living's River's Edge, St. George Cottage, and Adaptive Cottage plans all offer. Each of these cozy floor plans fits in three bedrooms, which means room for family and friends who come to visit.

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