The upsides of downsizing

The upsides of downsizing

The thought of swapping the maintenance of a larger home for a hassle-free future full of travel, friends and new-found freedom is a common theme for those considering downsizing.

After all, it makes little sense in terms of your time and finances to stay in a place that has outgrown your needs when sentiment is the biggest factor preventing you from leaving.

Once the reality of the kids growing up and leaving the family home starts to wear off, there are many compelling reasons favouring the move to a smaller home.
For example, the CoreData Empty Nesters Survey of September 2018 found the initial benefits of kids leaving home included having a quieter (42.6%) and cleaner (41.4%) home and more than two-thirds of seniors reported an improved financial position.

Those who opted to stay used the situation to their advantage. Almost a third of seniors (30.4%) turned the children’s rooms into a space to indulge hobbies, and about one in six (15.3%) are leasing it to tourists.

But on the downside, the larger spaces can also contribute to energy costs literally going through the roof.

The average Australian home owner buys three to four properties in their lifetime. Traditionally, they trade up from their first home to a more substantial residence, often upgrade and then downsize upon retirement.

Incentives are in place to maintain this market cycle, with recently introduced downsizing provisions enabling people over the age of 65 to sell their home and put an extra $300,000 in super. But first factor in selling and buying costs (including moving) and talk to your financial advisor about how it could affect age pension entitlements by boosting your assets outside the home.

More than anything, downsizing requires a shift in mindset and the need to separate your wants from your needs.

Just as when saving for your first home, it’s important to have a budget and stick to it. Similarly, decluttering is an essential component of the transition.

Bear in mind that decisions should not be rushed, but review your belongings on a room-by-room basis and decide what to keep, discard, donate or sell. Try to avoid duplication (in the kitchen and linen) and gradually reduce your pantry contents. Before removing items, email friends and families with a timeframe in which they can take advantage of your generosity.

Neighbourhood recycling – in a box labelled ‘Free!’ – can also be handy to offload excess books, toys or smaller items.

When it comes to selling the items you feel will be valued by others, have them appraised or research on online sites, such as Gumtree, eBay or Facebook online. Garage sales can be good for easy-to-sell furniture, tools and bikes.

Given the reduced space at your new address, measure your furniture to ensure it fits the space and try to use one statement piece in each room. It’s also vital to make the most of storage where you find it – and there’s no shortage of potential solutions under beds, in cupboards and wardrobes and the most unexpected places. Also mount your TV on the wall, make the most of Wi-Fi technology, and utilise multi-purpose furnishings where you can.

Once you’ve moved in, stamp your mark on your new home, discover the benefits of the surrounds, and get to know your new neighbours but equally don’t forget the old ones.

Rest assured, embrace downsizing as an adventure and it will be the first step towards doing all the things you enjoy most in the next phase of your life.

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