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The pros and cons to downsizing your home

If you’ve recently made some financial or lifestyle changes, downsizing might have crossed your mind. We often hear about the stresses of moving, but this shouldn’t stop you from making a move if it’s the right decision for you.

According to Pip Archer from Simply Downsize, there are five common reasons that people decide to downsize:

  • Moving to a home that doesn’t have stairs, steep driveways or other accessibility challenges.
  • Moving closer to the things you need and love including family, shops, restaurants, clubs, healthcare and other services.
  • Putting an end to the work that comes with a large house including cleaning, gardening and maintenance.
  • Unlocking equity to suit your lifestyle.
  • Moving to a so-called “lock and leave” property (typically a smaller house or unit that is close to neighbours and offers advanced security).

Speaking from experience

We spoke to one couple that recently decided to move to a smaller home so they could enjoy the lifestyle that comes with a smaller property — particularly committing less time to maintenance!

“The reasons we moved are twofold – age and the size of the block of land. We lived on a large block of land that now has gardens and trees requiring lots of maintenance,” says Dianne. “It’s an old sandstone house that has its problems, and my husband is a perfectionist, so that has made maintenance of the home more difficult.”

Preferring to stay in a similar area in Hobart, Dianne and her husband, Ches, approached the bank first so they had their finances sorted, then started looking in earnest.

“It worked out well that we happened to find somewhere just down the street,” says Dianne. “Now we have something that’s relatively new and not too small so we get the space (and we’re not living on top of each other), and we can move in without too much hassle or major alterations.”

Although they still have plenty of space, so having visitors to stay isn’t a problem, the home is smaller than what they’ve been living in, so Dianne and Ches have been doing a clear out.

“We did one garage sale so far to get rid of some stuff, and although the purchase of our family home isn’t a done deal, we will offer the people who buy it some of the furniture otherwise we’ll have to get rid of some,” says Dianne.

When asked if they had advice for others who might be considering downsizing, Dianne quoted the same advice she had heard – don’t leave it too late.

Despite the inevitable stress of moving, Dianne and Ches made the decision in their early 70s so they could enjoy this new property before potentially moving into a more traditional retirement village later on down the track. It’s also meant they’ve been able to take the move in their stride, sorting through and clearing out what they no longer need and recognising that they should continue sorting through their possessions and doing a ‘spring clean’ every so often.

“I’m still very active, and I love my cooking,” says Dianne. “So all the cooking stuff is definitely coming with us. But in the next few years, I’ll go through everything again and see if there’s anything that we haven’t used and should clear out.”

Enlisting help

For some, moving can be emotionally and physically difficult. This is where Pip from Simply Downsize says it’s important to talk to others and get planning.

“Do what you’ve done all your life – plan ahead,” Pip says. “Talk to friends who have already downsized, and write a list of prerequisites that you want in your new home and lifestyle. Take time to get your home sale ready.”

“De-cluttering and moving is a big job,” she says, “especially if you’re doing it yourself. It generally takes months, so do it in bite-sized chunks and don’t over exert yourself.”

Just like Dianne mentioned, Pip encourages downsizing early so you can really enjoy the benefits.

“Downsizing early while people are still fit and healthy ensures they can still make decisions on their terms. If there is a sudden change in circumstances, often older people will have these decisions made for them,” she says.

If you’re interested in getting help with your own move, a service like Simply Downsize is great, as it acts like a personal concierge to help downsizers with all the heavy lifting – physical, logistical and emotional.

Pip’s aim is to “help as much or as little as people need to make their move as stress-free as possible”, which can be exactly what you need if you feel like you’re drowning in packing boxes!

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