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Downsizing a lifelong home: your guide to transitioning to Retirement Living

Downsizing and moving house at any stage of your life can be stressful, but when you’ve collected a lifetime of memories in your home, letting go and moving on takes on even more meaning. But for many, the time comes when the appeal of a simpler life – one where you can prioritise yourself and live in a home designed for your needs – becomes more attractive than staying where you are. 

In order to make that move, you may need to think about downsizing your home. Downsizing can be daunting, especially if you’re on your own, or if packing and moving presents physical challenges. But the journey to a simpler, more streamlined life begins with one step. Let’s take a look. 

TriCare retirement living - downsizing for retirement rightsizing

Downsizing isn’t a dirty word!

The idea of downsizing your home can seem intimidating at first – there is a lot of work involved, and a lot of emotions to feel about all you’re letting go. But the decision to downsize can be summarised in two powerful words: choice and freedom.

By choosing to downsize, you’re empowered to take control of the next chapter in your life. It signifies reaching a stage where you have the opportunity to shape your future according to what you want now, rather than carrying the past with you.

You might want to downsize your home for a few reasons:

1. Moving closer to loved ones and friends. This can also mean more quality time spent together and easier access to the support network that enriches our lives.

2. A better location. Whether it’s living near the beach, enjoying the convenience of nearby shops and restaurants, or embracing a peaceful country lifestyle, a change in location can help you make a change you’ve been dreaming of.

3. More manageable living. Transitioning to a smaller, well-designed residence can free you from the burdens of maintenance and household chores, especially if you move to a Retirement Community, where this can all be taken care of for you. This newfound ease can allow you to relax and enjoy activities and experiences that bring you joy and fulfilment.

4. Financial freedom. By tapping into the value of your current home, you can unlock substantial equity, leaving you with more money to enjoy your retirement. Whether it’s pursuing hobbies, travelling, or simply having peace of mind, downsizing can provide the means to achieve these aspirations.

5. A sense of security. With a smaller home in a secure Retirement Community, it’s easier to lock up and leave when you want to travel or go visiting loved ones. The peace of mind that comes from knowing your home is secure allows you to fully embrace and enjoy your well-deserved adventures.

When do you know it’s time to downsize?

Downsizing is a significant emotional and financial decision, and although there’s no ‘right’ time, there are things you can consider that will help you to assess whether it’s right for you right now. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of downsizing your family home.

Pros and cons to downsizing your home

1. Increased cash flow: Downsizing could free up money that you can use to pay off your mortgage, invest, or enjoy your retirement.

2. Easier maintenance: Smaller homes require less effort to clean and maintain, giving you more time to focus on the things you love.

3. More convenience: Downsizing allows you to choose a layout, fittings, and location that better suit your needs, such as being closer to family, transport, and essential services.

4. Lower insurance and utility bills: Generally, smaller homes cost less to insure and are more energy-efficient, reducing your monthly expenses.

5. More cash in your pocket: By accessing the equity you’ve built up in your family home, downsizing may provide you with extra funds for travel, spoiling your grandkids, or treating yourself to special experiences.
1. Less space: Moving into a smaller place means making some tough choices about what belongings to keep and what to let go.

2. Reduced flexibility: Downsizing may result in fewer guest rooms, or more limited space for entertaining family and friends.

3. Adjusting to a new area: It may take time to get used to your new environment and make new friends at first.

4. Emotional attachment: Letting go of your family home can be emotionally challenging due to all the memories you have tied up with it.
Print this handy table out to help consider your options by clicking on the button below.

Once you’ve weighed up the pros and cons, you may be leaning one way or another. If you’re looking for a sign that it could be time to downsize, they could include:

1. Your home’s layout is unsuitable or dangerous: If your current home’s layout poses challenges as you age, such as stairs becoming difficult to navigate or a that is hard to get in and out of, it may be time to consider downsizing to a more accessible space.

2. Your home is too big: If you find yourself living in a large home with many empty rooms, downsizing to a smaller property can save on maintenance and utility costs.

3. You want to free up some cash: With your children grown and independent, downsizing can unlock the equity in your home, providing extra funds for travel or other pursuits.

4. Maintenance is overwhelming: If the upkeep of your current home feels like it’s too much, downsizing to a smaller property or to a Retirement Community, where maintenance tasks are taken care of, can free up your time for leisure activities.

5. You want to change location: Priorities change over time, and if you want a different neighbourhood – closer to the beach, family, or essential amenities – for example, downsizing allows you to make that change.

“Many retirees we’ve had move into James Ommaney Retirement Community tell us the one regret they have is that they didn’t make the move sooner,” says Village Manager of 15 years, Elvera Quilty “If you’re unsure, we welcome you to come and visit us and meet our residents. Then you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you.”

How do you decide what to keep?

Deciding what to keep and what to let go of can be a challenging and emotional process that is about so much more than ‘stuff’. Here are some helpful tips to guide you in making those decisions:

1. Assess your new space: Consider the size and layout of your new home. This will give you an idea of how much space you’ll have for your furniture and other belongings, and what will fit with your new space. Try to choose furniture that is necessary and doesn’t overcrowd your new living space, so you can create a comfortable and homey environment without overwhelming it with too many belongings.

2. Take inventory and prioritise: Create an inventory of all your possessions and ask yourself what you would grab in case of an emergency. This exercise helps you identify the items that hold the most importance for you.

3. Consider functionality and sentimental value: When deciding what to keep, think about both functionality and sentimental value. If items serve a practical purpose and bring you joy or hold significant memories, they’re probably a keeper.

4. Let go of duplicates and excess: If you have multiples of the same item or possessions that no longer serve a purpose, it might be time to let them go. This will help declutter your space and make the downsizing process easier.

5. Consider the potential for new beginnings: Downsizing can also be an opportunity to let go of the old and make a fresh start. Embrace the idea of creating a more streamlined and organised living space that reflects your lifestyle and priorities as they are now, not as they were.

Remember, downsizing doesn’t mean letting go of everything! It’s about curating your belongings to create a space that is comfortable, meaningful, and suited to your new chapter in life.

What are your downsizing options?

When considering downsizing your home, you might like to consider a few options, including:

1. Living with family: Moving in with your children or other family members can be a rewarding option that can bring you closer together. It offers the benefits of proximity to loved ones, potential cost savings, and even the opportunity to help with childcare. Just make sure  that all parties involved are emotionally and financially prepared, and that you all have a thorough understanding of expectations and responsibilities, to avoid any friction.

2. Renting or buying a smaller home: Renting a smaller property can help you to access equity from your larger home, and will most likely also save you time and money on maintenance. It’s important to consider financial factors such as stamp duty and taxes, as well as the long-term suitability of the property for your evolving needs as you get older.

3. Retirement Living: Moving into a Retirement Community offers a comprehensive downsizing solution designed specifically for your stage of life. At TriCare, we offer two levels of Retirement Living, designed to suit a variety of needs:

a. Independent Living: Independent living homes are perfect for those who want to maintain their active lifestyle without the hassle and stress of house and garden repairs and maintenance. Need an extra bedroom for those overnight visits from friends or family? Indpendent Living homes can give you the choice of one, two, or more bedrooms, plus features to make life easier such as dedicated parking and a 24-hour emergency call system. You may even be able to bring your pet.

b. Serviced Apartments: For an even simpler lifestyle, Serviced Apartments are maintained for you, so you don’t need to worry about cleaning, laundry, or daily meals. This is the perfect rightsizing choice if you’re looking for a lifestyle that focuses on YOU – no hassles, just getting on with living the life you want.

Remember, just moving to a smaller home isn’t always necessarily the best option. You want a home that works for you on all levels – comfort, space, security, and lifestyle.

Downsizing is a big job! What help is available?

Moving house requires help, no matter what your age, so don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance early on. If your family or friends aren’t available or you prefer professional help, there are specialists who can lend a hand in various aspects of your move.

There are professional services that can help with:

1. Decluttering and sorting through your belongings, and helping to sell or donate any of your excess items

2. Packing, arranging transportation, and unpacking in your new home

3. Cleaning, repairs, or preparing your home and garden for sale or lease.

A good specialist will have your best interests at heart and will ensure a smooth and stress-free transition, so ask around for recommendations or search the internet for someone in your area. Be sure to check their reviews or ask to see testimonials, and lean on them to handle the nitty-gritty while you focus on settling into your new home with ease.

Making the move from your family home to any new place is going to be stressful at times, but it can also be the start of an exciting new chapter of your life. Try not to rush yourself when organising for the move, and give yourself time to adjust and mentally prepare for that transition into your new life.