Downsize Your Home To Elevate Your Life

A three-step guide to making an informed downsizing decision.

The decision to downsize your home isn't just a rational move. It's about choosing to make an impactful change to your life, finances, surroundings, and future. 

At some age in life, there comes a time when you have to make a lifestyle decision that defines your future. You have to choose what's right and best for you rather than drowning in the ocean of emotions. Downsizing the home is one such decision. It is one of the toughest decisions you will make in life. 

This guide will help you make the right downsizing decision. It will help you understand why downsizing is a good decision, when to do it and what to consider before downsizing your home.

When should you downsize your home and why? 

People downsize their homes for various reasons like

  • The home is an empty nest
  • It requires too much upkeep and maintenance
  • Financial problems
  • Job change
  • Accessibility issues - the house is located remotely
  • Going through life crises like divorce, loneliness, or loss of a loved one

There could be other reasons for downsizing too like

  • You are eager for a change
  • You wish to move closer to friends or family
  • Want to simplify your life
  • Plan to start a new phase in life

You may choose to downsize at any point, but it's worth doing some research into where you want to live, what kind of property you'd be satisfied with, along being realistic about how much you currently own. Before delving into the factors to consider, let's first look at the potential benefits of downsizing your home.

What are the benefits of downsizing a home?

Downsizing your home comes with many perks, that's one of the reasons why people choose to downsize.

1. Save money, increase cash flow

Spend less on mortgage and maintenance, have money left over every month to allocate for other needs or desires.

2. Gain more time

Fewer rooms and smaller spaces cut down on the time spent to clean and maintain them so you get to spend more time doing something enjoyable.

3. Reduce utility bills

Smaller homes have comparatively lower energy consumption because there is no wasted space.

4. Reduce consumption

Less space means you acquire fewer goods and reduce consumption so technically you start to practice minimalism.

5. Reduce stress

Less responsibility, smaller workload, and greater flexibility reduce stress automatically.

What factors should you consider before downsizing the home?

Downsizing your home can be an extremely emotional decision because there are a lot of memories attached to the home. You've spent a lot of time with your family in that home, your children grew up in the same house and it was probably your first huge investment. But if the current house is not befitting you or beneficial for you, it's worth making a rational decision of downsizing.

There are many important factors to consider before making the final downsizing decision.

1. Make peace with the emotions involved in downsizing

Take a look at your current home that you're planning to leave. Your current home is a fort that holds strong emotional ties. If it's your family home, you're most likely to have a strong emotional connection because of the memories you made here. Understand your emotions attached to the home and find out why you want to leave this place.

a. Why do you want to leave your home?

Think about and list down all the reasons why you want to leave this place, and what you don't like about it. There have to be at least one (or perhaps several) reasons as to why you want to go elsewhere other than the financial benefits of downsizing. Ask yourself questions like:

 

  • Does it feel empty and huge for one or two people
  • Is it difficult to maintain and clean?
  • Is the upkeep expensive and adding to the financial burden?
  • Does it have accessibility and mobility issues?
  • Is it very distant from the important family members? 
  • Has the community around it changed?

 

b. What do you love about your current home

Once you've covered all the negatives, ask yourself what you love about your home. This will help you identify features of the home that you may want to look out for in the new property.

Ask yourself positive questions like:

 

  • Do you love the porch, balcony, or backyard?
  • Do you love the furniture and want to take it with you?
  • Is the storage space perfect for you?
  • Do you like its location because the pool, park or supermarket is easily accessible?
  • Do you like the people around you?

 

c. Deciding to downsize your home

Based on your questions and answers you will now have a personalized list of pros and cons, positives and negatives that will help you decide if downsizing is the option for you. If you choose to downsize and sell your current home then this pros and cons list will help you to filter and narrow down the best property options you may consider based on your non-negotiables. 

You might also want to consider choosing a real estate agent to get a house suitable to your needs.

2. Identify and seek your kind of home

Now that you've evaluated and decided to take the downsizing move, it's time to conduct in-depth research. This includes digging deeper than tangible items such as money, location, and amenities offered (although, they are important); it's time to look at the key factor â€?"the vibe or the energy of the home”. This is in particular if you're planning to live in retirement villages or land lease communities, it's important to see the vibe of the home and that locality sets right with you. 

a. Find the right vibe

Post-retirement, people tend to feel a little lonely and out of place, so they seek more respect, care, and compassion. Retirees often chose to live in retirement homes and close-knit communities over an apartment block with unsocial or unfriendly neighbours. 

As it is rightly said, �"Find your tribe, love them hard.” Many older Australians find a tribe they identify with and enjoy a vibe in a well-established retirement community. It's important to find a warm surrounding with people that make you feel at home.

b. Analyze the neighbourhood

Another crucial factor to consider while looking for the right home is to check on neighbours �" notice how they live and what they do with their properties. Check if they sublet their properties to other tenants or create any other sort of nuisance. For example, a high turnover of tenants may not be ideal if you're looking for a peaceful retirement location.

Usually, retirement communities have strict norms with the use of the property and don't permit short-term letting by owners but make sure to gain clarity before finalizing the home.

3. Think about the future

The last and the most essential step in downsizing decisions is to think about what your future holds for you. Today, you're fit and healthy, tomorrow you may not be the same (we wish you stay healthy but precaution is always better than cure).

It can be quite jarring to move from a large family home into a smaller property better suited for retirement. You can make the right move and avoid buyer's remorse if you put some thought into your future needs.

a. Choose a home that suits your needs for future

With age comes a string of health problems and you should be ready for that. This may be your first and the last house move so choose a home that suits your needs not only just now but in a few decades.

You don't need to move into a retirement community or choose a property option with a residential aged-care facility. But choose an option with all the questions about seniority in mind like: 

  • Will this property work if my mobility becomes weak?
  • Is it accessible or remotely located?
  • Is the home sturdy enough?
  • Does it have an option/space for a wheelchair rack?
  • Does it have a good and working elevator?
  • Can I install grab-rails later?

These features look nominal but they can give you more freedom and a sense of security when you're aging. 

b. Look for a functional and futuristic home

The design of the home should be more functional and less aesthetic. The whole place should be designed keeping in mind that you will grow old in this place. Don't cancel a property option based on looks like â€?"the walls have grab-rails so it makes the house look less beautiful”. The built-in care infrastructure will eventually help you in the future. 

c. Exit strategy

It is equally important to look at your exit strategy because it depends on the location of your home, your income, and your retirement plans.

  • What if your health deteriorates and you've to permanently move into a residential aged-care unit? Will your downsized house be easily saleable? 
  • If you choose to stay in your downsized location, are there viable residential aged care options within a reasonable distance?
  • If you're living in a retirement community, will you have to pay the exit fees? 

Takeaway

Downsizing your home can be stressful, sad, or scary. That's why it's essential to cover the past, present, and future aspects of downsizing to help you find the perfect place that accommodates you for years to come!

Stay positive and be excited about a simpler life in a new place with less clutter.