In your lifetime, you’ve called many different places ‘home.’ You’re no stranger to moving houses and understand the practicalities of shifting to a new address. But downsizing, your most important move of all, requires a lot of forethought, planning, and, particularly, letting go.
Your downsizing journey isn’t one to be rushed. It takes place over several months, even up to a year. A lot happens before the decluttering, agent appraisals, packing, and saying your goodbyes.
Honour this life stage by dedicating a good amount of time to this transition. As you journey through this exciting chapter, know that there’s no one standard path to take. Some people downsize in their 50s, others in their 60s or 70s. Everyone is driven by their own lifestyle and financial goals. This is why it’s important to challenge common myths about the downsizing experience.
Downsizing is, at its core, changing your living situation and lifestyle to suit your current needs — not those you had 10-20 years ago when you bought the family home. It’s rightsizing, not downsizing, because the intention is to up your lifestyle, not reduce it.
This isn’t to say it’s easy. It’s not. Take your time, call in help from family and friends, and keep your focus on your exciting future. Let’s identify some of the common concerns downsizers have.
Downsizing will undoubtedly be the most emotional move of your lifetime. This has been your home for years, for decades. It’s your safe place, your refuge, and something that’s all yours. It’s more than a house. The task to slowly detach yourself from this wonderful old home will take time, effort, and hard work.
You start small, one section at a time, one room after the other.
A minimalist approach to decluttering is a good place to begin if you’re feeling weighed down by all your possessions. The Homesuite downsizing team is here for you, helping to oversee and coordinate your move. Think of us as your extended family.
But where should we go?
Reframe this question to ‘but where could I go?’ You’re at a time in your life where you’re only limited by your perceptions. Have you always dreamed of living near the beach? Love the forest or the conveniences of urban living? Envision how you want to spend the years ahead. There are more options than ever for downsizers:
A smaller, more manageable home in the same suburb
A sea or tree change
The grey nomad life
A residential complex full of amenities
A retirement village.
Downsizing, or ‘rightsizing’, is about choosing a living situation that suits your current and future needs.
Homesuite has partnered with a national buyer’s advocate service to help you if you’re looking for property buying advice, or someone to handle the whole search and buy process for you.
Downsizing doesn’t necessarily mean uprooting the whole family.
If you choose to move nearby to a smaller property, you’ll still be in the same area (and the grandkids will be happy to sleep in makeshift bedrooms if space is limited).
If you’re relocating to a place that’s far away — the beach, the woods, a travelling caravan — your family will be happy that you’re moving to a lifestyle that makes you happy. Sit down as a family to discuss the new plan for catch ups, babysitting, and family holidays.
Just like you’re processing the downsizing experience, allow your family to do the same. Get everyone excited about the new adventure.
Only you can make that decision. But just like other big milestones in life, there’s never a ‘perfect’ time. Something will always get in the way if you let it. Is your current living situation becoming a burden? Does the house feel too big, now the kids have left? Is maintenance too much for you now? Are you ready to fulfill those dreams that have remained dormant for years?
Consider both your lifestyle goals, as well as the current selling environment (that won’t always be the case). Financially, there’s never been a better time to sell your house.
Taking ownership of the move now, at a lucrative time, is better than waiting and being forced into a decision down the track.
According to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute:
27% of older Australians downsized to achieve a particular lifestyle
27% for financial outcomes
18% to reduce garden or property maintenance
15% financially forced to do so.
Speak with a financial advisor to help you understand your options and opportunities, related to downsizing. You should feel confident and empowered about your next move, whatever it is. Homesuite can connect you to our expert financial planning partner to craft your very own Downsizing Financial Plan, for a fraction of the cost of a regular financial plan.
Aren’t we too young to retire/downsize?
The traditional idea of retirement is changing. As a society, we’re moving away from ‘work 40 years, retire at 65’ plan. We want to retire as soon as possible or maybe stay in the workforce if we choose to (casual, part-time, or self-employed).
We seek more freedom, more liberty to decide what retirement means for us as individuals. It’s an exciting time in history and you’re a part of it. You’re not too young or old to retire.
Although your home of 10, 20, 30 years felt permanent, you’re the only constant, so it’s okay to accept that you might’ve outgrown it. You want to be close to services, community, and live in a walkable town. The three bedrooms and big backyard aren't important anymore.
It’s usual to feel grief, guilt, and loss as you prepare to downsize. Just remember, the memories live within you and your family, not in the house.
Again, expect to experience sensations of intangible loss with the surrendering of ‘status.’ You’ve been homeowners for decades. Selling the family home, especially if you plan to rent, can feel like the foundation has been taken out from underneath you. You worked a lifetime and made sacrifices to afford that house.
The sale price you’ll get will support you well through your retirement. Focus on all that you can gain.
You might even be purchasing another home or be open to it in the future. By selling your family house, you’ll have the freedom to do what’s right for you. Let your lifestyle goals, financial situation and needs guide you through this shift.
You may have always envisioned passing down the house to your kids. This is honourable and something you should be proud of. However, you might actually be able to support your kids even more by selling it for a higher price on the market — to then give a portion of it to help them buy their first home, while also guaranteeing a comfortable, happy retirement. It’s important to have these conversations with your loved ones.
From enquiring about downsizing and offering emotional support, through to the practicalities - organising trades, finding the real estate agent, the conveyancer, and removalist — we’re with you through it all.
No two people follow the same downsizing journey, which is why our support is customised to your individual needs. Do what works for you. Don’t be afraid of the perceived barriers.
At Homesuite, we’ve helped hundreds of individuals and couples downsize in an empowered and stress-free way — to set themselves up for the rest of their life. We’re here for you, too.