Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Downsizing During Retirement: How to Make Fewer, Smaller Bathrooms Work

Note: I think downsizing is a smart financial move for a retiree. But it is an adjustment because it means fewer rooms and smaller spaces. The bathroom is a prime example. Chet Jenkins sent me this article. I hope you like it.

Downsizing to a smaller home during retirement makes so much sense for the single person or couple on a budget. The benefits include fewer expenditures and less maintenance. However, among the downsides of the decision is dealing with smaller or fewer bathrooms than you might be used to. Making do with cramped bathrooms or one bathroom is easier than you may think.

Maximize Storage Space Take advantage of any area with out-of-the-way storage potential. For example, under the sink or behind the mirror — that’s why you should start with the vanity — or in bathroom corners. You can even store some items, like spare toilet paper rolls, behind the toilet. Add shelves behind the door or on the wall. Just because you’ve downsized doesn’t mean you can’t remodel — and start with a storage-friendly vanity. Put some of the money you’ve made by selling a bigger home into revamping the bathroom to maximize storage space however you can. Even if you’re renting and can’t make big improvements, you can add storage-friendly cabinets and bins that won’t require tearing anything down.

Schedule Bathroom Use (to a Point)
If you share a cramped bathroom with one or more other people, you won’t have the freedom of using the bathroom whenever you want anymore. However, there’s a simple way to reduce those incidences of everyone wanting to use the bathroom at once: Make a bathroom schedule.

Unplanned toilet visits excepting, you can easily schedule whose turn it is to shower, bathe or get ready in the morning. Decide who gets to go first each day or rotate from one day to the next.

You will be surprised how less clutter will make things simpler.
You will need just half the space you are using now.
The best way to maximize space in a cramped bathroom is to keep clutter out of the way. This is especially true if you’re sharing a bathroom. Don’t clutter the sink or shower with bottles. Stick with the basics that everyone uses, such as soap and shampoo. Store your personal items, like toothbrushes, behind the mirror or under the sink whenever you’re not using them. If the space there is limited, create a toiletries basket for everyone in the home. Fill it with those personal items you don’t share and bring it in and out of the bathroom as needed.

Look on the Bright Side
Less space seems like a downside to living in a smaller home, but it really could be a positive. Spending less — or nothing — on your mortgage or spending less on rent is the most obvious advantage. When it comes to your smaller bathroom, you’ll:

  • Spend less time cleaning. This is especially true if you have fewer bathrooms than before.
  • Spend less on maintenance. Imagine: fewer drains to get clogged, fewer toilets to overflow or never stop running.
  • Be more likely to keep it free of mold and mildew. Dirt is more obvious in a cramped bathroom, so you’ll need to keep countertops clear and clean so you can share the bathroom.
  • Less to spend to make it more accessible. It’s a good idea for anyone, but especially for retired people, to think about making bathrooms more accessible in the event of injury or illness. A walk-in shower and hand rails to help you get off the toilet or enter the tub is a big expense and a hassle in multiple, large bathrooms. However, it’s an easier task to undertake in a small or single bathroom.Reflect to other times in your life where you might have shared small bathrooms before, such as when growing up or in college. You dealt with it then and you can definitely cope now.

It may take some getting used to at first, but you can happily live with one cramped bathroom during retirement. The kids are gone, so it’s just you and maybe a spouse, significant other or roommate to share the bathroom with. When grandkids and other guests drop by, introduce them to your toiletries basket and scheduled bathroom visit system. Everyone will get along just fine.

About the Author: Chet Jenkins is a contributing writer and retirement blogger. His articles on retirement living have appeared across the Web and in local publications.

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