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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!