Two years into the pandemic, and the housing market is still supercharged with movement. Although millennials are the biggest batch of players, buyers are trending older, as many Americans race toward retirement plans that entail a move faster than originally planned. While many older buyers are interested in downsizing, a growing number are embracing “rightsizing,” the art of living big in a smaller space.
Ken and Lisa Wells sold their 5,000-square-foot home in Florence to embrace retirement in a 1,500-square-foot home at Hartness, a community off Highway 14 on Greenville County’s Eastside. “It fits us to a T,” Lisa shares. “We just love it. We’ve been so surprised how well we’ve done in a small space. We said if it didn’t work, we’d get something bigger, but it works. As you get older, you’d rather have quality in a small space than a big space.”
Developers of the 449-acre urban village utilized the skills of Town Planner Lew Oliver, whose work can be found from Rosemary Beach (Florida) to Patrick Square (Clemson) and Serenbe (Georgia). “I don’t like the idea of warehousing seniors and telling them to be happy,” he reveals. “One of our goals is to reinvent living for seniors so they can remain in communities, and mixed communities, and have them integrate with the whole social and economic structure. That’s incredibly important and Hartness fits that.”
Across multiple phases, Hartness residents occupy cottage homesites for smaller families and empty-nesters, village homesites for larger family residences, and estate homesites for custom homes with basements and detached garages. Oliver particularly enjoys the unique design challenge of rightsizing. “We’ve been through the age of McMansions in the ’80s and ’90s,” he explains. “Now we’re seeing this new brand of seniors who want compact living, so they can live a large life outside of the home. But they still expect nicely finished master suites, big closets, and beautiful bathrooms.”
The Wells believe they’ve moved into the home of their dreams. “It’s the house where we could finally do everything we wanted to do,” explains Ken. “We didn’t have children to consider. It was a lot of fun.” Lisa adds, “We hired a decorator who has made the house so multifunctional. We have a playroom/bedroom and a dining room table that converts for more people. She was really good at economizing our space.” With five daughters, and now grandchildren, coming to visit, every square inch needed to serve multiple purposes. With fewer feet to build, the empty nesters were able to splurge on everything from finishings to décor.
Lew says that’s typical. “It’s astounding how popular these homes, and rightsizing, have become,” he reveals. “They’re charming, cozy, low maintenance, low energy cost and totally viable now. We’re seeing them everywhere.”
“It just works,” says Lisa. “The surprise has been how little space we need, even when we entertain. We’ve entertained more than we thought we would in that space. People love to come to our home in Greenville.” The welcome mat is out.
Upstate Urban Villages
These neighborhoods—some in the planning or construction phases—offer right-sized homes along with amenities like restaurants, parks, and shops, all within walking distance.