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Tips for Downsizing your Home

  • July 13, 2017
  • By 50 Shades
  • 32 Comments
Tips for Downsizing your Home

It happens to all of us eventually. We achieve the great Australian dream of owning our own home, raise our kids and make many memories in that family home. Only to discover once the kids are gone the house is far too big. Like a lot of people our age we have been spending our weekends out and about at unit inspections and auctions with a view of downsizing our home. After much research and conversations with other people our age here are my tips for downsizing your home.

Why do you need to downsize your home?

Tips for downsizing your home

The great Australian dream of home ownership

It’s like another step in your life, maybe prior to being carted off into a nursing home! We find our homes empty and void of life after being packed to the rafters with kids, friends and pets. Suddenly you are left with a couple of spare bedrooms and bathrooms that are no longer used, except for the occasional visitor.

We decided to fill our empty rooms and rented out one of our spare bedrooms to a student for a few years. Then eventually we got on the Airbnb bandwagon and rented out our space. In the beginning this was wonderful and we had bookings most weekends and holidays, but it has been very quiet of late.

Tips for Downsizing your home

When the kids move out

You get to a stage where you’re tired of cleaning unused rooms and storing the things your kids left behind. You start seeing the value in this one big asset, your home, and realise that you could easily live in a smaller place and have money leftover to play with. Money that could be put to better use, like holidays or even an investment property.

The most common reason people downsize is after the loss of their partner or becoming physically unable to care for the home by yourself. After a certain age stairs can become an issue in multi-level homes, as can doing tasks like gardening and maintenance on your home.

How to make downsizing your home possible

I’ve heard of many people our age that make the decision to downsize and move to another town, sometimes referred to as “having a seachange”. Others downsize into an apartment or unit in their local area. With the most extreme case of downsizing into a motorhome or caravan and becoming a full time grey nomad.

The first step to downsizing is having the conversation with your partner and kids and finding out how they feel about selling the family home. Our kids were rather shocked when we first mentioned selling up our home and downsizing.

Tips For Downsizing Your Home

Have the talk and do your sums first before making any decisions

For some people this is the hardest step. Letting go of the family home can be like letting go a child or good friend. So you must must be comfortable with the decision and both be on the same page.

Secondly, find out whether it is financially viable to downsize, particularly if you want to move to another location or town where the real estate prices maybe higher. So do your research and have your house appraised by an experienced real estate agent or property valuer.

Steps to downsizing your home

Make a list of desired locations together with you partner and then discuss them in detail weighing up the pros and cons of each one. When we first started to discuss locations my husband wanted to move to Hervey Bay, which is over 4 hours away from where we live! My daughter wanted us to move to the Sunshine Coast and our son wanted us not to move at all!

Start investigating real estate in your desired location. Take a few Sunday drives into the locations that appeal to you and look for “for sale” signs, look in Real Estate Office windows and attend open houses. Ensure that you do your homework thoroughly by checking out things like amenities in the area: shopping centres, sporting facilities, medical centres, distance to hospitals and community centres. Also enquire about the cost of living taking into consideration the price of food, petrol, rates and water.

Tips For Downsizing Your Home

Attending open houses is a great way to start

Declutter your existing home and get rid of personal effects, furniture, tools, sporting equipment and the kid’s things that they left behind, that no longer will serve a purpose in your new place. Try having a garage sale or advertising furniture and other items of value on Gumtree or in your local newspaper.

Carry out any necessary maintenance items on your home and make it look presentable for sale. Think about employing an interior decorator or maybe asking a friend who has good taste, for ideas on how to spruce up your home. Most Real Estate agents can also give you advice on how to market your home and make it look attractive to potential buyers.

Downsizing options

There are several options for downsizing. You need to think about what suits your lifestyle. Do you need a yard or garden? Do you need a place suitable for beloved pets? Do you want to live in a complex with other people? The answers to these questions will determine your choice.

High-rise Apartments have the advantage of not having a garden or yard to maintain and are generally more compact and easy to look after than a larger unit or home. Most high-rise apartments come with views and communal amenities like swimming pools, spa pools, BBQ areas and gyms. The downside is that they attract a body corporate fee which can be rather hefty.

Tips For Downsizing Your Home

High-Rise Apartments are a very popular choice for downsizing

Semi-Detached Units or Duplexes are a great choice for those who still would like to have their own yard and small garden. They can be quiet spacious with plenty of room for visitors and entertaining and you only have one neighbour to contend with. The disadvantage is that you still may have to pay a body corporate fee for the upkeep on common areas and you may have to share a driveway.

Smaller Single Level Home. If you’re not ready for unit or apartment living, like us, then downsizing your home into a smaller home is a great idea. You have all the advantages of having a home, with a yard, gardens and your own individual block of land. In our case we need space for two cars and a caravan, plus my husband would like to have a man cave (shed) in the backyard and a space for our dog to run around in.

Retirement Villages consist of detached homes or units within a large fenced off estate, with security, communal facilities, site managers, emergency call systems and are limited to the over 50s age group. If you are a social butterfly and love lots of companionship and like to make use of the fantastic facilities, then these are perfect for you. They do come at a price though and you have to pay a regular service fee over and above your initial purchase price.

Tips For Downsizing Your Home

Downsizing and having a sea change

For us the choice was fairly simple. We didn’t want to live in a unit complex or live somewhere without our own yard and privacy. We simply want to downsize our home so that we no longer have to clean and maintain a large home. Our downsize will involve a bit of a “seachange” and in fact it means moving into another state, but only about 28 kms away!

If you would like to read more about whether “To Downsize or Not” here’s another great article by my friend Jo at Lifestyle Fifty

How do you feel about downsizing your home when your kids leave home?

This post is part of the Lovin’ Life Linky with a Lovin’ Life Team of the “ageing positively” kind who are as keen as I am to promote the Lovin’ Life mindset. The Lovin’ Life Team includes:

Lyndall from Seize the Day Projectlovin-life-linky
Deb from DebbishDotCom
Min from Write of the Middle.
Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit
Jo from And Anyways
and of course me, Kathy from 50 Shades of Age


By 50 Shades, July 13, 2017 Kathy Shade is a 50 something year old who is married with 2 children who has spent most of her life being a housewife, mother and working as an Accounts Administrator in the public school system. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Her friends would describe her as being a 'have a chat' with an outgoing personality and zest for life. Kathy also has a great love of shopping and is known for her bargain hunting prowess!
  • 32

50 Shades

Kathy Shade is a 50 something year old who is married with 2 children who has spent most of her life being a housewife, mother and working as an Accounts Administrator in the public school system. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Her friends would describe her as being a 'have a chat' with an outgoing personality and zest for life. Kathy also has a great love of shopping and is known for her bargain hunting prowess!

32 Comments
  • Jo Tracey
    July 13, 2017

    We did just that when we made our sea-change to the Sunshine Coast from Sydney. We had a 5 bedroom home, with formal lounge/dining, huge family/sitting/eating room & a TV room…for 3 of us & the dog. We’ve lost the formal area & one of the bedrooms, but now use every bit of our space. The de-cluttering was cathartic & we now fill like we fit our space – rather than having great swathes of space that we never used. #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      July 13, 2017

      Actually you should have written this article for me because you have been through exactly this! We’re kind of sick of the busy Gold Coast and would like to retire somewhere quieter and less hectic so we’ve purchased a block of land in Kingscliff (just over the border in Northern NSW). We won’t be building or moving for a while, but I’m definitely going to ask your advice when it comes to de-cluttering!! #TeamLovinLife

  • Min@WriteoftheMiddle
    July 13, 2017

    Fantastic tips Kathy! We’ll be downsizing eventually. This house is too big to clean already. I also don’t want to stay in this location. I don’t feel overly attached to this house as we’ve only lived here for 10 years. I was much more attached to the house prior to this one that we sadly had to leave as we had outgrown it and were bursting at the seams. I’d like to live where I have the best of both worlds – the mountains and the beach, however I think I may have a struggle on my hands as the tennis player is very attached to the local tennis club! #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      July 13, 2017

      We’ve built 4 homes and moved 4 times in 32 years. I actually love the house we’re in now because it’s very beachy and located very close to Burleigh Beach and everything else in the area. However the GC is becoming too crowded and busy for our liking. We want to downsize to a quieter town and found the ideal one just across the border in NSW in Kingscliff. So our plan is to build a small 3 bedroom home in a few years time. Sounds like you’ll need to find a place near a tennis club! :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Janet
    July 13, 2017

    We have just helped the hubster’s parents go through the process of downsizing from a large (60 sq) home on an acre, to a small 3 bedroom house on a suburban block in the middle of their country town. It was a lot of work helping them sort through and get rid of decades’ worth of junk!!!! I can see where the hubster got his hoarding tendencies from!

    • Kathy
      July 13, 2017

      Oh that would have been a big job Janet. I feel for you! We will also have a big job ahead of us getting rid of junk. But we do have a few years to do it in because we’re not going anywhere just yet. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Deborah
    July 13, 2017

    I downsized when I moved from Brisbane to Hervey Bay. I had a three level, three bedroom, separate dining room, three toilet (etc) townhouse with large garage to a 2bedroom apartment (with tiny laundry, single carspace with no storage). I actually quite liked the downsizing process – getting rid of stuff I’d had for ages. I’d put my townhouse on the market a year earlier and actually still had boxes of stuff from that declutter in the garage when I put it on the market a second time, so I realised I’d used / needed none of the stuff).

    I’ve moved quite a lot and bought and sold 4 times since 2002 so am able to do a cull each time. Of course, I think I downsized a bit too early in 2012 as I found my apartment just too small. I had to put my desk in my bedroom to allow my second bedroom to be set up for my mum / guests and my complex was very much a holiday complex and there wasnt’ a lot of privacy.

    I’ve gone bigger again and love having a separately study and HUGE living space. It’s probably too big for me but I’m really keen NOT to accumulate a lot of stuff. I tend to like clean surfaces and minimalist approach anyway. (Though I do like things on my walls….)

    • Kathy
      July 13, 2017

      I could have got you to write this article for me Deb, as you have been there done this! We have built 4 homes and moved 4 times over the past 32 years and each time it has been to a bigger house. It’s now time to downsize and simplify our lives a little. We have far too much clutter and personal effects. It’s going to be a mission getting rid of it, but I think well overdue. We won’t be moving until 2019 at this stage. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Jan Wild
    July 13, 2017

    This is such an important topic Kathy and you have covered it brilliantly. I am going to share over on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
    It is so saddening to see some retirement villages serving their residents to poorly, I do hope that gets cleaned up soon as it is otherwise a great option for many (although not for us)
    It sounds like you have found your new home, congratulations!

    • Kathy
      July 13, 2017

      It is an important subject because many of our friends are looking to downsize their homes. It’s a big decision moving away from family and friends, but we’re not moving that far away. I know a few couples that are living in retirement villages in independent units or villas that are absolutely loving this lifestyle. But it’s not for us! Thanks for the sharing. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Johanna
    July 13, 2017

    These are such great tips and you’ve given me so many new ideas. We have just done a partial downsize, but I can see that another one might be coming in a few years :) I wasn’t quite able to cut out all the extra bedrooms, not until I know if we’ll have grannies who want to sleep over! I also wrote about this topic on Lifestyle Fifty from a slightly different angle – “To Downsize or Not? That is the Question?”

    • Kathy
      July 13, 2017

      Thanks Jo. I guess we’re not downsizing that drastically but going from a two-storey home to a single level home and only 3 bedrooms and 1 large living area. We do need to think ahead to our retirement and our lifestyle as it is very busy where we live. We both would love to live somewhere a little quieter with no traffic. Kingscliff where we have bought a block of land is a great little coastal holiday village with shops, restaurants and all the facilities we need and it has NO TRAFFIC LIGHTS. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • jodie
    July 13, 2017

    We just downsized 2 years ago to a townhouse without yard work or shoveling!! It was the best thing we did along with the fact we got rid of so much “stuff”!!
    Now, I’d love to go even smaller, but my husband isn’t ready for that!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Kathy
      July 14, 2017

      That is fabulous Jodie. I think that once the kids have left home it is the sensible thing to do. There is more to life than cleaning and maintaining a big house! :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Life Images by Jill
    July 13, 2017

    You are right Kathy – downsizing comes to all of us eventually. I think the key is to do it while we still have choices and are able to make those choices that suit us, instead of being forced into it. I’m not ready yet, but a sea-change appeals to me, but I don’t think I will be moving away from our family to another state! Happy moving days Kathy and enjoy your new lifestyle.

    • Kathy
      July 13, 2017

      Luckily moving to another state is only a mere 28 kms away for us! We’re not ready to move yet either but we have a two year plan of building a smaller home on our vacant block of land. Moving interstate for you would be a big move! Like you say it is good to implement a plan whilst you’re still able. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
    July 13, 2017

    We moved house about two years after our last child left home – we were on two acres and the maintenance (for non-gardeners like us) was becoming a real chore. Our new house size is very similar to our old one – just newer and on a lot less land. We overlook public open space so we don’t feel hemmed in and there is still room for the kids to visit. Our next move will be when we can’t make it up the stairs anymore or when it all gets too hard – and I don’t ever see us in a retirement village – too many nosy people living too close to each other!

    • Kathy
      July 13, 2017

      Unless you’re really into mowing lawns and gardening I can see that acreage living would not be ideal. I think the important thing is that we make life a little easier for ourselves once we get a little long of tooth! :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Kerrie
    July 14, 2017

    I definitely will downsize when the kids move out!! Might even move into a campervan so I can go and see what I want when I want!!

    • Kathy
      July 14, 2017

      Yes the campervan idea does appeal, but I think I would miss my kids too much to be a full-time grey nomad. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
    July 14, 2017

    I haven’t had my own home for 10 years Kathy as we moved in downstairs from my in-laws to be close to them. After my husband had a triple by-pass in 2000 we sold our home with the pool and leafy surrounds and moved into an apartment in the City. Sometimes I miss not having a big home with a garden but the upkeep can be very time consuming unless you can afford cleaners and gardeners. We have bought an apartment on the Gold Coast and are living half there and half in Brisbane which is a bit of a pain but one day…..

    • Kathy
      July 14, 2017

      Sounds like you have made a good decision Sue. Living half between Brisbane and the Gold Coast would be ideal. We’re a little over the busy Gold Coast and wanting a “seachange” somewhere a little less hectic. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Melissa @ All Around Oz
    July 14, 2017

    Very informative article Kathy. You forgot to mention down sizing to a caravan though :)
    Seriously though,when we have reached the end of our travelling days we will opt for something that is much smaller than our current home and probably have little or no yard.We want something that will be easier to clean and maintain.

    • Kathy
      July 14, 2017

      I think I may have mentioned it Mel! I couldn’t live full-time in our little caravan. I’d be divorced within a month! However I do like doing trips in our caravan over short periods of time. We will continue to do this for a while yet. Yes the cleaning and maintaining of large homes is something you need to think about when you are getting older. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • budget jan
    July 14, 2017

    Five years ago we purchased a house in the area we wanted to live in (Coolum).When the kids left home we were in a position to move and we did so, even though the property prices in our home town were horribly low. If we had sold 2 years previously we would probably have made $50,000 more. However the time was right for us and the existing home would not have made a good rental and anyway we were over owning rental properties. Don’t get me started on Real Estate agents for rentals. We sold our rental property in Townsville as well as our family home and moved. Our daughter did not want us to sell and I still have pangs of missing it, but overall I’m happy with our move.It was a wonderful feeling of freedom getting rid of about half of our possessions. Great article as usual Kathy!

    • Kathy
      July 14, 2017

      Yes I think you have made a very good decision Jan. We tossed around Coolum for a while too, but because our son recently became engaged we now feel that we should stay close to the Gold Coast in the event of grandchildren. Our house in Burleigh Heads is very valuable at present. For some reason the real estate prices have been sky rocketing in our area. But we won’t be ready to move for a few years just yet. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    July 15, 2017

    I look forward to hopefully downsizing to an apartment resort style complex in a warmer part of the world one of these days in the not too distant future. Just got to talk the hubby into it …

    • Kathy
      July 15, 2017

      Yes the hubbies are always the hurdle. Mine didn’t want to move at all. He is reasonably happy where we are, but at the same time realises that the house is too big. I think we have a hard road ahead of us! #TeamLovinLife

  • jenni@unclutteryouruniverse
    July 15, 2017

    Now that the teenager is in his final year at high school, we are investigating a move from the suburbs into an inner city apartment. We are ready to leave behind the daily grind of being stuck in traffic and spending our weekends looking after grounds that we do not use. It will be a big change for us, so we are taking lots of time to explore the options.

    • Kathy
      July 16, 2017

      That sounds very wise Jenni. Anything to make life simpler and less stressful is a good start. Your great blog says it all, we all need to be looking at uncluttering our universe and learn to live with less material objects. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Lyndall @ SeizeThe Day Project
    July 16, 2017

    We plan to downsize our family home in about 5-6 years, once the kids move out. At this stage, we’ll probably go into a duplex or smaller home, as we like have a small yard.

    Despite the glossy advertising and attractive lifestyle, we are extremely wary of retirement villages, as Mum lost a huge chunk of her life savings to two large exit fees she paid (firstly to a retirement village and then to an “independent living” complex when she needed to go to a nursing home… and it took TWO YEARS to get the money!!). As I dealt with the sales and legal side of things for her, I urge everyone to VERY carefully check all the terms and conditions of a retirement village contract before signing your life (and savings) away! #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      July 16, 2017

      Lyndall my best friend has also been through a similar experience to you with her mum in a retirement village and then a nursing home. She actually went through hell fighting with these greedy companies that call themselves aged care facilities. I doubt whether we would consider moving into one of these retirement villages, but I guess at some stage we may be faced with being cared for by others. It is wise to at least have a long-term plan, rather than waiting and it then being too late to downsize. :) #TeamLovinLife

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