Recently, some of our clients have been giving up their long-held suburban homes to relocate to a more urban neighborhood. In Houston, that could mean a move from The Woodlands to Midtown, Sugar Land to Montrose or Katy to Downtown. It’s all part of a bigger trend called New Urbanism.
A 2012 survey conducted by The Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University found that 51% of Houstonians expressed a preference for a smaller home in a more walk-able and urban community. This was quite a change from just four years earlier (2008), when only 36% felt that way (and 59% preferred a suburban home with a big yard).
In a way, this “new” trend hearkens back to a time before automobiles shook up the American landscape, creating the modern commuter city where people live in far-flung suburbs and drive to jobs or entertainment in tightly-packed urban areas. Many of those beating a path back to the city are empty nesters who want to create a new lifestyle now that the kids are gone. A community with residences, shopping and entertainment all mixed together is just the ticket.
One such couple, our clients Michael and Paule, sold their five-bedroom Memorial home of 25 years when they became empty nesters. “It was time – time to let someone else in,” says Paule. “I felt we had hit our expiration date. In fact, the family that bought our house was ‘us’ 20 years earlier. They had young children and wanted to be near good schools.
“Mainly, we were restless; we wanted something that matched our current lifestyle. We wanted to be close to commercial centers and to more activities. We wanted a walk-able neighborhood. We wanted diversity. We wanted to do different things.”
After renting for a year in the Heights, they bought a townhome there and haven’t looked back. The move has turned out better than they expected. In addition to a walk-able neighborhood close to commercial centers and activities, Michael and Paule have saved money, time and wear on their two cars.
So if you find yourself sitting around an empty nest getting bored, why wait for retirement to make a big change? Try out a new lifestyle without leaving the city where your friends, family and job are. Many inner cities have been becoming more livable (and safer) in recent years. Green space is on the rise as well. In Houston, voters approved a major bond referendum in 2012 providing $166 million in parks funding, $100 million of which is dedicated to an initiative, Bayou Greenways 2020, that will create 150 miles of parks and trails along the city’s bayous. (As of this writing, The Kinder Foundation is poised to donate an additional $50 million to the initiative.)
And if you are considering “urbanizing” your own life, remember there will be numerous financial angles to deal with. For instance, how much of the cash from the sale of an old home should you put into your new residence? Keeping some proceeds in liquid form might open even more options for creating your new lifestyle.
Whatever the specifics of your own situation, PARTNERSINWEALTH can help relieve the burden of the financial details, so they don’t spoil what could be a very exciting time in your life. For more information, helpful guidance or professional assistance with this or other issues, please contact Jim Waters, CFP®, at PARTNERSINWEALTH, 713.964.4028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.