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Help with your next chapter

Usually your family home is full of memories created over the years. But often, there comes a time when all the house now represents is memories; the kids have left, there are too many rooms left unused, and the upkeep is becoming hard.

 

Downsizing isn’t about squeezing into a smaller place; it’s about ‘right-sizing’ your home for the next chapter in life. 

Whether you call it downsizing, smart-sizing or right-sizing! These ten simple tips can help make your move easier.

Tip #1 - Location, location, location

It’s obvious but think carefully about where you want to move to — it might be the last move you make; and you might be there for 20 or 30 years. Do you want to stay in your community? Move closer to grandchildren? Or head somewhere more relaxed near the ocean? All good questions to ask yourself. Ask them over and over until you’re sure.

Tip #2 - Plan, and take your time

Moving is going to be overwhelming and emotional at times, but you can take the sting out of things by planning in detail, and then taking your time. Make lists, take a room at a time, allow yourself six months at least. Don’t try and solve everything in a day, just bite off manageable chunks from a well-documented strategy.

Tip #3 - Dump, sell or giveaway?

By definition, downsizing involves having fewer possessions. Try and give things with emotional attachment — which don’t suit the new place — to friends or relatives. But don’t be upset if they politely decline, either; everyone is fighting a war against growing clutter. Sell things of value online or via garage sales if you no longer want them, but they’re of value. And give some things to charity.

Tip #4 - Get a little help

At the very least you’ll probably need removal people, unless you have strong offspring prepared to hire vans. But you can get help with almost everything if you need it — planning, packing, disposing of possessions; it just comes down to your budget, time constraints and how much you’re confident of doing yourself. It’s worth adding that neutral help won’t have opinions driven by emotions — which might be the case with friends and relatives.

Tip #5 - Renovate, decorate and clean

Like anyone selling a house, you want to get the best possible price. Some work upfront can reap major benefits, even if it feels inconvenient and unnecessary on a house you’re leaving. At the very least, get the gardener in, get the windows cleaned and do any chores you’ve neglected. Then do a really decent clean before people view the place.

Tip #6 - Budgets and finances

Make sure a budget is part of your planning. How much are you realistically going to get for your home? How much is the retirement village place you’re moving to? What moving costs are involved? Make sure you have everything covered and won’t put yourself in a difficult position during or after the move. If you aren’t confident with finances, then run it past someone who has downsized already, if you can.

Tip #7 – Get government help

Well, sort of… there are incentives and tax benefits to downsizing that you might not be aware of. Certain ways to diminish your tax and boost your Super. Do your research and see how policies can help you. Talk to your accountant and seek professional financial advice.

Tip #8 – Save memories

Our favourite is to take pictures of all your big old pieces of furniture that you’re selling, and then turn the pictures into a hard-backed book to keep on your coffee table. It’s a great way to keep memories alive in a fun way, but to move on to a smaller and more stylish home.

Tip #9 – Treat yourself

Assuming the move goes well, and your budgets are accurate, then treat yourself to some new pieces as part of the move. Just moving half your old things to a smaller place might seem slightly depressing, so pep things up with a couple of pieces of art or a new sofa. Some lamps, perhaps. Blend old and new furniture to create a stylish new home.

Tip #10 – Don’t leave it too late

The thing we hear most from downsizers is “we wish we’d done it sooner!” People rarely have regrets about making the move. But the longer you leave it, the more stressful it can become. Moving at your leisure in your 60s carries an element of stress, so trying to move quickly in your 80s is much harder still. If you can do it, then enjoy life to the full in a new place with a great community.