The Christmas-New Year period is meant to be a time of bonding and family bliss. According to folklore, relatives are reunited from all corners of the globe and descend on family high temple – the home owned by Grandma and Grandpa. After enjoying a lavish meal lovingly prepared by these elderly family members on Christmas Day, the family then stays together in the temple embracing the perpetual bonds of fellowship well into the New Year.
It is meant to be a time of eternal joy, happiness and good cheer. Of course, we all know it is usually nothing like this.
Catering for, and accommodating, family members is hard work. It’s one thing preparing a simple dinner for two – quite another pulling together the expected three-course Christmas Day feast for 15 that pleases every fussy eater.
What’s more, tempers are frayed because it is so hot and because people are tired after a long year of work. It only requires a misplaced comment about the past, or a known weird habit to emerge, and people are prone to snap.
Once Christmas is over, it’s no fun then being stuck with the rellies for weeks on end, as they eat you out of house and home, decide you can no longer watch the cricket on television and leave the fly screen door open (all the time).
There is, of course, an answer to this conundrum. It’s called downsizing.
It’s quite simple - by downsizing you get rid of the empty bedrooms in which rellies stay.
And, in a wave of a magic wand, they can’t stay at your house anymore.
A recent report by National Seniors Australia has shown that the idea of downsizing to palm off family members isn’t just an evil fantasy – it actually happens. The report, entitled “Downsizing: Movers, planners, stayers” was released in November 2017 and outlines the reasons why people downsize. It is based on 5,770 survey responses.
Of course, the survey focusses on the main reasons why people downsize (which is to capture some capital gain from the family home sale, reduce their maintenance burden or to move to a better lifestyle).
But among some of the comments made to the survey, there are some hidden gems which show that for some the real benefit of downsizing is that it effectively places a large sign at the front of the property which says to relatives “Go Back You Are Going The Wrong Way”.
One survey respondent stated that he or she downsized to “stop people staying overnight.”
Another stated the downsizing motive was “to avoid the children returning home to stay”.
I have no doubt these responses were genuine, given that a friend of mine downsized to an apartment so she could finally kick her two adult sons out of home, and refused to give them a key to the new apartment!
The good news is that, if this is also your motivation to downsize, it isn’t too late to let the world know this is the case.
Seniors Housing Online has set up a community survey which aims to find out why people are downsizing, and what is holding them back.
We’ve got 488 responses so far, and as yet no-one has indicated they downsized to stop family members from coming over.
However, if you are like the people above and consider downsizing a key clause in your personal “family prohibition” policy, then please fill out the survey!
It's quick (and anonymous) - we'd love to hear your views!
• Amanda Graham is the Co-CEO of Seniors Housing Online and Downsizing.com.au, dedicated real estate websites for downsizing-friendly properties.