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Here’s Why Seattle’s Empty Nesters Are Headed Downtown

If you think living in the city is just a Millennial trend, you don’t really understand city living! Empty nesters are among the leading demographics seeking this “lock and leave” lifestyle. Seattle Refined talked to some of the couples flocking downtown to learn about the big draw.

1. They realized they don’t have to host

Some homeowners worry that downsizing means they won’t see the kids, grandkids and other visitors, but in reality that’s not the case. Many adult children are happy to host for the holidays and are actually grateful that they won’t have to clear the big chunks of time required for travel.

In fact, many parents and grandparents report that family members are more interested in visiting because instead of dreading being marooned in suburbia, they’re attracted to the vitality of the city that surrounds them.

2. Hosting is still possible

If they do want to host, city-dwellers can still house guests. A two-bedroom condo in the city can easily sleep four guests: a pull-out couch in the living room and an office / guest room combo will easily do the job. If kids use sleeping bags, even more guests can fit. Seattleites John and Kathie Truax have found that their grandkids “love coming to Grandma and Grandpa’s in the city.”

If your new condo doesn’t have a second or third bedroom – no problem. Many luxury condo towers now offer guest suites within the common areas for overnight stays and there are thousands of hotel rooms down the street. The logic? Why pay for an extra bedroom when you’ll only use it a few times a year?

3. If you don’t have to drive, living Downtown is actually pretty convenient

It’s easy for day-tripping suburbanites to bemoan the hassles of going into the city, but those who live the lifestyle have a very different experience. In fact, many empty nesters opt for just one car and some even lose the car altogether and embrace a walk, transit or Uber lifestyle instead. Remember, the cost of owning, maintaining and licensing a car also includes the cost of also parking it where you are going. Many urban dwellers prefer to spend this money on other pursuits, often finding a happier and healthier lifestyle outside of gridlock.

Jon Scholes, President of the Downtown Seattle Association, describes how his family loves “the walkability, the convenience.” They find they “can get just about anywhere. On the monorail, on a streetcar on the train on the bus on our feet.” Whether it’s restaurants, museums, shopping centers, grocery runs or doctor’s appointments, urbanites can get around easily without a car – and that’s a wonderful feeling all its own.

4. The city is a good place for a body to get older

Empty nesters often look at their three-story houses with a vague sense of worry that changes in their personal health could render portions of their home inaccessible. Condos in the city, on the other hand, have elevator access and for the most part, single-level living. That means no stairs! There are also many excellent medical facilities located downtown, and downtown residences fall within the service area for a greater number of delivery-based vendors.

Urban living is also more stimulating with countless social clubs and community happenings both in the building and within the surrounding neighborhood that encourage interaction and exploration. Brokers say many families encourage their elder parent(s) to consider this lifestyle earlier instead of moving straight from the house to a nursing home or continuing care facility. Why? Experts say that urban living helps the mind, body and soul and allows our elders to age in place for longer periods than if they try to stay in a large home alone.

5. It’s a smart investment

Some empty-nesters are putting down payments on condos currently under construction. Because demand has been so high recently in downtown Seattle, units like those in the NEXUS building stand to appreciate quickly. Those who put down a deposit today still have time to prepare their current residences for sale, and the whole time they’re building equity in their future home as demand continues to rise. Brokers describe this as “double equity” because the presale locks in a price that the market value exceeds when the buyer closes 24-30 months later. Meanwhile, they can wait to sell their current home into a rising market.

It’s not just about money, says Kathie Truax. “Urban living has been a lifestyle investment too,” she adds. “Living in the city has completely opened our eyes to so much more and created social, cultural and even economic opportunities that simply weren’t going to occur [in our] suburban life. We are totally engaged in this city and loving every minute of it.”

Kathie admitted the move was a big step for her and her husband John. He had largely lived a rural life growing up on a farm in Wisconsin, and the two raised their children in Tri-Cities, WA. It wasn’t until John’s retirement that they ventured into the city, first experimenting with an apartment and then purchasing their first condominium five years ago. For others curious if city life is for them, John recommends spending some weekends in a hotel and then an apartment so the commitment is nominal.

“You can always dip your toe in the water first – we did. But I can assure you that soon, you’ll want to jump all in – the water’s fine.”

For empty nesters, the city is a treasure trove of modern amenities and key conveniences. Are you cut out for city living? Take the personality quiz at the bottom of this page and you’ll be entered to win Seattle Refined’s Urban Evolution package. See the list of prizes included in the package and take the quiz here!

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