Seventeen years after she co-founded a property portal dedicated to downsizing, Catherine Graham is now leading by example and has discovered the benefits of moving from a suburban family house and into an inner-city apartment.
Ms Graham co-founded Downsizing.com.au with her sister-in-law Amanda in 2003, after having difficulty finding over 50s accommodation for an older family member.
Now Catherine herself has downsized from her home in Adamstown, in Newcastle’s southern suburbs, and into a newly-built apartment in the revitalised Newcastle CBD.
Catherine and her husband Anton bought the apartment after seeing their son and daughter move out of the family home, which meant there was little reason to stay in their old neighbourhood.
“First it was our daughter who moved out a few years ago and then our son around Christmas time,” Catherine said.
“We had been thinking for some time at any rate that we didn't have to stay in the same area.
“While it was close to good schools and great to raise a family, our priorities had changed and we were looking for somewhere central where we could walk to facilities and attractions.
“At Adamstown, we had to always jump in the car if we wanted to go anywhere.”
In addition, Catherine and Anton were also becoming irritated by the ongoing maintenance requirements of their Federation home, and wanted to take advantage of the hot property market for regional houses.
The solution was to sell the Adamstown house and move into a newly-built apartment above Newcastle’s Hunter St mall.
The house sale went very smoothly, with it being placed on the market before Christmas and then being purchased in early January. “We actually had two people from Melbourne fighting over our house,” Catherine said.
In March, Catherine and Anton settled on, and moved into, their new two-bedroom apartment, which features a 45 square metre terrace with water views. Between the house sale and the apartment purchase, they briefly rented in a short-term rental apartment.
Although the couple has only been living in the apartment for a few weeks, the early signs are good.
“You can walk out our front door and be on the harbour in about two minutes and the beach is a five minute walk away,” Catherine said.
“Being able to walk to all of the great cafes and restaurants around us is also extremely appealing. We don't ever have to put out a bin again and the beautiful gardens that surround us are maintained all year round for us. It's a terrific lock up and leave lifestyle so far.....”
Need to plan ahead
For those considering embarking on a downsizing journey, Catherine says it is important to leave plenty of time to plan and implement your move.
“We had to leave a lot of time to declutter and decide what to no longer keep,” Catherine said.
“Removing clutter is not just important for downsizing - it also helps when getting your house styled and ready for sale. All up, it took us around 12 months to plan for the sale of our house.”
Downsizers looking for a better lifestyle
Catherine and Anton’s decision to move into a central CBD location reflects the broad lifestyle-related desires of most downsizers.
A report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) in 2014 surveyed around 1,200 downsizers and found that:
- 74 per cent were motivated to move by a desire to spend less time maintaining their home (the highest ranking of any motivation)
- 67 per cent wanted a smaller dwelling
- 57 per cent wanted a lifestyle improvement, with 56 per cent wanting to be close to shops
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