TOP TIPS FOR DOWNSIZING FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS MADE THE MOVE
Published 4 February 2022
A key feature of a property market which is operating in an increasingly ageing population is the phenomenon of downsizing. Whilst younger growing families might work their way up from starter homes to larger family properties, the last purchase is often a smaller home which will fulfil a different role.
So when is the best time to consider downsizing? What are the considerations to take into account? And what types of properties make the ideal downsizing move?
The first thing to say is that everybody’s circumstances are different, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to any of those questions. Not all people downsize in later life, or for the same reasons. But for those who do, there are undoubtedly some common themes.
Perhaps the most common truism is that most people only know what the right time to downsize is when they see it in their rear-view mirror. People rarely do it too soon, but it is common to hear downsizers expressing the wish they had done it earlier in life, at a point when they could enjoy the fruits of their decision, rather than being forced into it for less happy reasons.
People seek smaller homes in later life for a number of financial and family reasons: children have left home leaving empty bedrooms; concerns that a large house (or garden) will become increasingly difficult or expensive to manage; freeing up cash to boost their pensions or to help children or grandchildren get on the property ladder themselves; or simply recognising that their priorities have changed, and wanting a home which will better serve their future aspirations.
The choice of downsize property will likely reflect these motivations. Convenience, accessibility and lifestyle will all dictate the type of home which we are likely to choose. Often this will be a more modern property (with less maintenance to foresee), and whilst it may have fewer bedrooms, it may well have more flexible living space – as we get older, more of our life and our leisure is spent at home. It may have a smaller garden (again, less work).
Location will also be important. That isolated country property with plenty of space may be an idyllic place to bring up children, but will it be quite so appealing in later life when driving might be an issue, and sparse public transport could lead to isolation? As we focus more on our own interests in later life, it’s likely that that we will want to be physically closer to where we can indulge those interests and hobbies.
Having made such a move myself, from a country home with a big garden to a city-centre townhouse, here are my top tips. Really consider what is important to you, not just for right now, but thinking towards the next phase of your life, and what new opportunities that may bring. Be prepared to adjust – know your ‘must-haves’ and what you are prepared to compromise on. Don’t just think about buying what you currently have, except smaller – consider whether a totally different type of home might suit you better in later life.
Above all, do it early enough to enjoy it, not later on when ill health or mobility issues force the decision on you. When you downsize is the one time in your home-owning life when you will probably have more money than you need to buy your next ideal home – make the most of that moment.
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