Where you live affects how you live and it’s not something you can change without moving again – so it’s a really important decision to get right!
Exercise 1: Why Move?
Leaving a home that you have lived in for years, sometimes decades, isn’t an easy decision.
In writing “Downsizing Made Simple” with Noel Whittaker we created an exercise called “Why Move?” to help people at the start of their downsizing journey to be clear about their Why?
The exercise is very simple and you needn’t spend inordinate amounts of time completing it but it is very useful in giving clarity to why you are considering downsizing and what it is you are seeking from your new home.
The exercise has three columns: Leave, Keep and Change
To complete the exercise ask yourself these questions and dot down your answers in the relevant column:
- What do you want to leave behind?
- What irritates you about your current home?
- What pushes you to want to go?
- What do you love about your current home?
- What are the things you want to keep?
- What do you hope for in your new home?
- What draws you to make a move? How do you want your new home to support your future?
Now you know your “Why?” let’s think about two other elements in making the right downsizing decision: location and lifestyle.
Exercise 2 is called “Location, location, location”
You’ve heard it a thousand times, the old real estate adage “location, location, location” but when is just one part of the “Where” that you need to think about.
Location is about more than being close to the beach, views of rolling hills or being in the hustle and bustle of a city, it’s also about the property itself and the people and places you want to be close to (or not).
This exercise helps you break down the location into: Near, Far and Not Important to me
- Start with the geographic location, are you seeking a tree change or sea change or would you like to stay close to your current home?
- Do you want to be near family and/or friends?
- What about the facilities around you?
- Would you like to be close to cafes, shops, a hospital, an international airport if you are looking to travel or have a regular flow of visitors.
In terms of the property itself, if you are intending on having visitors stay you may wish to have a larger apartment or house to accommodate them.
And while you may be fit as a fiddle at the moment, if you want to stay in your new home for as long as possible then you need to look at through that lens. If you are looking at downsizing into a retirement community it is not uncommon that the architect has contemplated this need and while there may not be grab rails and call buttons now that doesn’t mean that the infrastructure isn’t there – wide halls and doorways, walk-in showers and spacious living areas are all things that make properties feel light, bright and airy but they can also mean that getting care is easier. As for the grab rails, you may find that the anchors are hidden in the walls.
The point is that if you want to stay at home if the need for care arises then ask the question “what would happen if I needed care?”
Now that you have examined the important elements of your location it’s time to think about your lifestyle.
Exercise 3: Lifestyle Choices
This exercise helps you examine what you want to Stop, Start and Keep doing.
Very few people plan to spend their retirement in an easy chair watching TV, but if you don’t plan anything else that’s exactly what you can find yourself doing!
So when it comes to your lifestyle think about how you enjoy spending your time and who you enjoy spending it with – do you like to be on your own, with your partner or with a group of people? What sort of activities do you enjoy or hope to enjoy doing?
In every brochure for retirement communities you will find the word “lifestyle” but each community and the lifestyle you can enjoy there is different. Bear in mind too that, generally speaking, the more facilities and activities the community provides the more it is likely to cost in your weekly or monthly fee, which isn’t a problem if you are using and enjoying them. A good way to see what is on offer and whether or not it’s going to suit your lifestyle is to grab a copy of the social calendar and highlight the activities that you would be interested in.
These 3 fairly simple exercises are designed to give you some good “guide rails” in the key downsizing decisions you need to make. Remember, there is no “right”, “wrong” or “best” when it comes to downsizing decisions, there is only the one that best suits you.