Christmas and the New Year are often periods of personal reflection and a chance for fresh beginnings – and what better way to start 2019 than by making the move to a new home?
It’s understandable that as an empty-nester you may be hesitant about downsizing. It’s a big change, and it can be especially daunting if you’re relocating to an entirely different area. However, I’ve come across research that suggests the chief regret of downsizers is that they didn’t make the move sooner.
With this in mind, let’s look at four simple steps that can help you enjoy a smoother transition to your new downsized home.
1. Spend time in the suburb
If your dream retirement location involves a sea or tree change, or a completely different postcode, aim to spend as much time in the area as possible. A decision to downsize to a suburb on the basis of a single weekend visit for instance, is unlikely to give you a real feel for the place.
Visit the area mid-week as well as in the evenings to check for things like traffic volume and level of community activity.
2. Prepare for a different style of home
Downsizers often prefer apartments or townhouses that offer low maintenance living combined with a wealth of resident facilities. Modern designs are typically open plan, light filled and airy. That can be quite different from many older suburban homes, which tend to have lots of separate rooms.
A consequence of this is that you may need to think about which pieces of furniture you can take with you when you downsize – some larger pieces may not fit the space or suit the décor of your new home.
3. Know when it’s time to say goodbye
I have, at times, met empty-nesters who would love to downsize but their biggest hurdle is having to part with some of their belongings. That’s simply because a more manageable home won’t have the space to store everything.
My advice in these situations is not to let an inanimate object dictate your future happiness. It’s crazy to compromise your future well-being for the sake of a sofa or dining suite. Moreover, having fewer pieces of furniture in your downsized home means fewer tripping hazards. While that may not matter now, it certainly becomes important as we age.
4 Understand that your dollar can go a long way
After years of paying off a home, it can call for a change in mindset to tap into the equity you have built up. It’s a bit like making the transition from the accumulation stage of super to the drawdown stage.
Downsizing is one of the few times in life when we can sell our home, buy a new place and still have cash left over to invest. It can take some getting used to the idea. But being able to tick multiple goals this way is extremely rewarding. It can mean enjoying a new, low maintenance home while growing your super to earn tax-free returns during retirement.
Take a moment over the holiday period to think about your plans for 2019. The New Year could be the ideal time to put your plans in place to downsize, and start living the dream instead of wondering.
Amanda Graham is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Downsizing.com.au