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Where to Downsize in Rochester?

Three local real estate experts share the most appealing retirement  places in the area

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


When the children are grown it’s time to downsize for many people. Why clean and maintain a house with multiple unused bedrooms and bathrooms when it’s just one or two people living there?

With retirement at hand, many people want a more carefree lifestyle. Many communities in Monroe County offer what downsizers are looking for.

Theresa Downham, real estate agent with Nothnagle Realtors in Fairport, said that the area has many choices for people in this stage of life.

“Empty nesters, when they want to downsize, want to walk into a village or for shopping,” she said.

Soon retired, they will have the leisure time to stroll out for coffee. A community with a mix of housing and shops with plenty of walking accessibility maintains a small-town feel appealing to many people.

Fairport, Brockport, Perinton and Honeoye Falls have become popular places for people who want a “walkable community” for retirement. But, as Downham added, these towns aren’t so far from the city that it’s not hard to drive into Rochester occasionally.

Downham also sees lots of potential for Ogden, Sweden and Spencerport.

Owning a townhouse or living in a leased apartment makes spontaneity easier. Retiring to Florida and spending summers North is also easier with a smaller dwelling in Upstate.

Greece has become a good place to look for smaller homes, according to Carolyn Stiffler, real estate agent with RE/MAX in Rochester. She lives in an apartment in Greece because she wanted to decrease the effort needed to maintain a home.

The city’s numerous rental options include senior and mixed-age communities.

Stiffler has clients who are selling their larger homes in favor of smaller homes with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Others opt for rental units, with older people looking for “senior only” housing, and others in age-mixed complexes.

“Some are older and don’t mind living with younger people around them,” Stiffler said.


Duplexes with full basements are popular for people not yet ready to pare down their possessions, yet who also want to decrease the amount of time and money they spend on property maintenance. She said that was part of the reason she now rents an apartment.

Janice J. Voight-Witt, licensed real estate broker and owner of Witt Realty in Rochester, said that some people nearing retirement enjoy living in the city. It keeps them near the service providers they want, along with entertainment and shopping venues. Simply buying or renting a smaller place in Rochester works fine for them, Voight-Witt said.

One-level ranch-style homes or homes that can be adapted for greater accessibility have become popular.

“Health has become one of the big, driving factors,” she said.

Forward-thinking retirees can help avoid moving later in life, when mobility may become an issue, by looking for a home that has at least one bedroom and bathroom on the first level, first floor laundry, and few, if any, stairs.

Voight-Witt added that open floor plans often lend themselves to better accessibility adaptations than homes with many internal walls and doorways. Styles such as split-level ranches represent poor choices for people who hope to age in place.