A growing number of homeowners are using the equity in their houses, by selling and moving into an apartment.
One couple sold their home two years ago, but they didn't buy a condo. Instead, like a growing number of people downsizing, they rented.
He often woke up in the middle of the night last month as he often does. This time, though, he rolled over and went back to sleep.
That's when he knew that after more than two years of turmoil, he was finally home. The fact that the roof over his head belongs to someone else only added to his peace of mind.
They are among a growing number of downsizers, who are choosing to rent rather than buy a retirement nest. It is a choice that can be physically, mentally and financially liberating.
The couple is healthy and vibrant. But a couple of years ago, their two-story home of 32 years was "just consuming too much time and it was absorbing huge amounts of energy that we wanted to use in other ways." There were rooms they didn’t even use.
"We wanted to leave while we still could — gracefully."
The emotional and financial decision to rent rather than buy is becoming more common.
Many retirees have had a really good run by owning their own homes for many years. They've accumulated a lot of equity. They have a feeling that the market is going to go back down again and all the benefits of this great market are going to be lost if they don't cash in.
At the same time, these home sellers can't necessarily see spending hundreds of thousands, plus maintenance fees, on a condo.
Many retirees don't want the responsibility of owning a home any longer. With an apartment you can close the door and go away.
Some are open to renting or buying.
"Buying any of the condos we looked at would have consumed a huge percentage of our net worth. You don't want 50-, 60-, 75-, 80 per cent of your net worth in one piece of real estate. It's just too risky.
The couple pays rent every month and they only write just three checks a month — rent, electric/gas and cable. When they lived in their house, there were 15 to 20 regular expenses.
Gone are the bills for a security system, for chimney repairs, sewer connections and maintenance agreements on appliances.
Community is important too. Many can rent in an apartment community where they know and can meet other residents.
Is renting an apartment saving them money on a monthly basis?
Maybe not. But it isn't costing more. And they can take the proceeds from their home sale and invest the money.
Releasing the equity on your house can actually generate enough cash flow to cover rent.
For people rich in equity but cash poor, renting can give them the freedom to pay for some of the extra things they want in life. It's all very well to watch your home's value appreciate, but you can't eat a doorknob.
If the decision to rent or buy a smaller home is a financial wash, then go with the better emotional fit. That frequently depends on whether you are comfortable giving up the control of owning your own place or whether you really need the cash to cover the cost of enjoying retirement.
If you're going to rent and invest your home's equity you need to look carefully at where you're putting that money so you're not seeing your old age security benefits clawed back.