Downsizing can be a shock to the system especially when it happens at a time of emotional upheaval. My long-term role as a newspaper columnist had just come to an end and then my mother passed away days later.  (It had been expected but nothing quite prepares you for death, we had already lost my father 14 years before). Soon afterwards my 24-year-old son, who was still at university, announced that we would no longer be living under the same roof. While I applauded his independence, his decision dropped like a bombshell, since from day one there had always been just the two of us.

So, now I was looking for another roof, at a time of vulnerability. Some plan carefully to downsize from the family home. But for others, the need to live a more compact life may happen as a result of death, divorce, illness or an urgent need to free up funds. Then perhaps like me, it may be hard to get your bearings.

 

Adjusting To My New Life Was Challenging At First

My adrenalin was still pumping, my feet were still flying but life’s treadmill had come to a halt. Someone had turned the power off. From now on, I would no longer race home from the office to shop, cook and clean. I would no longer be expected to hold down two roles at once - social commentator and super mum. My days were now filled with sorting out homewares, as I’d started looking around for another property, we’d arranged that my son could stay and find himself a flat mate. Of course, I was worried about the effect of his new life on his studies, but he actually flourished when I was no longer there.

 

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

Before I purchased our family home, I had searched the property market for months, viewed plenty of properties and made an informed decision that turned out to be an excellent one.  However, when I was looking just for myself, I didn’t apply any of the rules that I had back then.  I instantly fell in love with a north facing apartment with a huge courtyard surrounded by a hedge. Perhaps I saw myself as Samantha from Sex In The City, throwing chic drinks parties on my terrace? It was as though I would seamlessly pick up my old life - the one that I had lived before my son was born. But of course, I’d aged and so had my friends. Many had simply given up on me because my work and home demands meant that I’d had little time for them over the years.

My Dream Home Had Major Problems.

There was some evidence of mould in the property but I had been assured that the Body Corporate had this in hand and it would be included in the scope of works, due to take place in a few months’ time.

As an optimist, I imagined that it could be fixed in a couple of days. Oh, how wrong I was about that…

Meanwhile my `entertainer’s courtyard’ was so hot in the summertime that it was impossible to dine out there since everything melted.  My fashionable outdoor table and chairs also started to disintegrate in the heat. One day when I pulled up a chair, I found myself flat on my bottom on the ground, which was decidedly not chic,

There were also problems with parking as I had a very tight, almost inaccessible parking space allotted to me and I almost had to be Evil Knievel to access it with my large vehicle.

Finally, it was a very noisy block, especially when some people moved in upstairs and thought that having a party after returning from the club at 3am was a good idea.

 

The Apartment Was Declared A Bio Hazard

I eventually had to move out and the Body Corporate placed me in a serviced apartment in Bondi Junction. It would just be for a few weeks, but it turned out to be months. There was apparently no waterproofing in my old apartment and the entire, beloved courtyard would have been excavated. Meanwhile my stay at the Meriton was becoming very expensive and then another owner called me from her European holiday destination and tried to persuade me to move. She wanted me to shift into a glorified backpacker motel that was closer to the beach but a lot cheaper. I declined. We are no longer speaking.

 

I Eventually Sold At A Loss

The apartment complex where I’m now living is just a few streets away and was newly completed when I was initially looking around.  It has 24-hour security, a landscaped, shared courtyard and barbecue area, easy parking, and it’s blissfully soundproofed. It would have made an excellent investment back when I fell stupidly head over heels with the trouble-plagued apartment.

The moral of this story is to get professional advice when you buy into a new property and always heed it. Before I bought my family home, I paid for extensive building reports but the second time around I had simply become infatuated with an ideal and well, you know what they say about love, it’s blind.

 

My Relationship With My Son Has Never Been Better

We regularly hang out as we enjoy each other’s company and I’m so proud of Joel. He graduated from uni and is now employed in a very competitive profession.

While there’s much to discuss over our dinners out, there will always be the moment when he’s ready to go home to his place, while I wish to luxuriate in mine. It’s only natural as both of us are now happily getting on with our own lives. 

I really learnt the hard way by making rash decisions when downsizing had me in a spin. Now I'm flourishing, discovering new skills that I didn't know that I had and planning trips away. And really that's what downsizing is all about, enjoying a renewed sense of freedom.

And really that’s what downsizing is all about, discovering that renewed sense of freedom.