Coping with empty nest syndrome - ideas and advice

Australian Bureau of Statistics evidence showing a desire for sea change after children leave home is real. It's also a chance to downsize your home.
Victoria's Better Health Channel says empty nest syndrome is a real thing, and it offers some remedies.
Empty nest syndrome, most simply, is a change in lifestyle and routine which occurs after a family's children have grown up and left the 'nest' to live by themselves. This leaves families with real estate which is impracticably large, meaning the homeowners have the option of selling the family home, which is likely to have increased significantly in value over the years, and investing the profit in a retirement unit or a smaller home.



Choosing a new home of a different size is referred to either as 'downsizing' or 'right-sizing.'



The moods you may experience during empty nest syndrome


Homes come with a lot of attachment and dependence. Selling your home is an emotional time. Better Health says empty nest syndrome is more common in women because women "are more likely to have had the role of primary carer."



"Once the last child moves out, the mother may feel that her most important job is finished. Similarly to anyone experiencing redundancy, the mother may feel worthless, disoriented and unsure of what meaning her future may hold," Better Health says.



If you are a mother experiencing this condition, Better Health recommends you take time to adjust to your new emotions, try various stress-relief techniques, and sell up and move to a smaller house only once you have adapted.



Statistics prove empty nest downsizing is real


The Better Health diagnosis matches evidence from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showing a desire for sea change after children leave home is real.



The ABS 2007-08 survey asked people in the category of 'older households without children,' who had recently moved house, the reasons why they moved. The results showed 22.5 per cent of people in that category moved because they wanted to downsize, far outstripping the 7 per cent of people who wanted a bigger better home at that stage in their life. In fact, moving to a smaller home was more common than any other reasons cited for selling the family home.


Some tips when downsizing


The friendly real estate agents at First National want your rightsizing to feel, well, right! Tips First National offers when empty nest sellers want to find the perfect sized new home include:



  • If downsizing for retirement, consider only properties with at least one downstairs bathroom so stairs cannot become a problem - forcing you to move again

  • Choose a location that is central to where your children and friends live, if possible

  • Check the closet and storage space in smaller residences and be sure you have enough room





  • If your children have left and you'd like to put your home up for sale, help is just a click away. It may begin with the simple step of getting a free property appraisal.