The kids have moved out and maintaining the 4-bedroom 2 storey house is too much work as it is, so you’re mulling over selling the family home. Downsizing and opting for a smaller abode seems like the answer as your head down the retirement path. However, are you feeling uneasy and don’t want to have to deal with a stressful move? You aren’t alone!
The family home for many empty nesters holds a lot of fond memories so it’s only natural to have mixed feelings about moving on and letting go. Couple this with the idea of moving into a newer and more compact home will also bring with it changes to your lifestyle you may not anticipate. Empty Nest Syndrome is a real condition, and it affects many as they are looking to downsize their living spaces.
Downsizing isn’t for everyone, but for some, it’s the right move. To prepare new empty-nesters for this exciting next chapter in your life Mooving Matters have put together an informative guide to better equip you to make the transition with ease.
What Is Downsizing?
The essence of downsizing is going from a bigger home to a smaller place – whether that be an apartment, independent living unit or retirement village.
The empty nesters of today do not think about downsizing for retirement in the traditional sense, and their lifestyle expectations are very different to their parents’ generation. Once downsizing, empty-nesters they are looking to enjoy their new lifestyle close to transport, infrastructure and amenities, and be actively involved in their communities.
“The city centres – once dominated by young singles – are becoming more and more popular with empty nesters looking for low-maintenance living. In metropolitan Sydney, for example, 33 per cent of apartment owner-occupiers are aged over 60, and 23 per cent of those intending to move to an apartment are over 60.”
With a changing lifestyle, it is vital to think about where and how you want to live, what your financial situation looks like and what is important to you.
There are even nursing homes that are adopting this idea and putting it into their facilities to allow residents their independence while still offering them care. There are many benefits of leaving the family home for something a little cosier.
But downsizing isn’t just about moving to a smaller home. Doing so can cut costs, prepare you for the future, and even make you feel happier and less cluttered overall.
“Finding a compact home for the next stage of life shouldn’t faze you. Simply research costs, find the right location and embrace good design”
Benefits of downsizing;
Less to House to Maintain
Keeping a bigger house tidy gets harder as you get older, especially as children move out and there is less help. If it is just yourself and your partner, do you really more than a couple of bedrooms? Smaller or shared spaces are always easier to maintain. And when you are spending less time maintaining your home, you have more time for yourself and other things you enjoy doing.
Mental Clarity & Ease
When you are ready to move int a smaller space, you’ll have to be prepared to downsize your belongings and the things you want to keep going forward.
Apart from the less cleaning, there is something therapeutic about having less things, less clutter equals less to worry. But doing so is all about getting rid of what doesn’t matter, holding on to what does — and knowing the difference. When you are ready to move int a smaller space, you’ll have to be prepared to downsize your belongings and the things you want to keep going forward.
Having a more minimalist lifestyle with fewer possessions, while still keeping a select number of treasured items, such as photographs, furniture and sentimental items, can be calming. There is also a reassurance in having shops, friends and care options in your immediate vicinity – so you are never needing to worry about distance to access things.
Maintaining your Independence
As opposed to staying in a larger home where you may need assistance from family or professionals to maintain it, downsizing into an apartment is a great way to keep a person’s independence. There are also some care facilities where you get your own independent bedroom and bathroom but share spaces like a kitchen or living room where they can feel at home and do certain tasks for themselves.
Increase Your Social Bonds
Moving into a smaller apartment or residence, where neighbours are in closer proximity, is a great way to socialise. You may even find other people like you, who are in similar life places. Your neighbours, though living independently from you, can become like a second family to you. This is especially true if you share space like a recreational area or nearby shops. Moving could also see you in closer proximity to family and close friends which makes it all the more worth it.
Downsizing and your pension
Many Australians may be reluctant to downsize because of how it may affect their pensions. However, now appears to be a better time than ever to consider moving to a smaller residence with the Federal Government trying to break down barriers that discourage older Australians from downsizing. Those who are retired are set to gain new incentives to save the what they earn when selling the family home with the introduction of new rules to the pension asset test and caps on superannuation.
Some potential challenges of downsizing:
Your neighbours might be a bit close for comfort
Its only on moving into a new house do you tend to discover who you’re living next door to, and their noise levels – something far more obvious when you share a common wall or your backyards or balconies sit side by side. However there are some easy privacy upgrades that you can implement like window treatments and screening plants so you feel you have your own space.
On the other hand get to know your neighbours, the first step towards building a community in your new neighbourhood. Making friends next door will enhance your everyday experience and comfort.
Storage is key
The double vanity with plentiful storage you’ve taken for granted may well be things you miss about your old bathroom – and this could be one of the first rooms you renovate in your new home. In the meantime, rest assured that you’ll get used to having less surface space on which to rest your belongings, and accumulating bathroom clutter will no longer be an option.
Give yourself permission to acquire only products you love. You’ll have fewer of them, so it’s the perfect excuse to splurge.
It’s harder to have “Me” time
If you live with and looking to move out with your partner, transitioning to a smaller home often means more face to face time. New empty nesters who’ve planned do well to develop separate interests to give each other space and things to talk about, as well as activities they like to do together.
On the upside: You may have a smaller home and fewer opportunities for time on your own, but you’ll also have fewer rooms that need cleaning.
Your furniture may need an upgrade
Even if you’ve double checked and taken careful measurements and passed on all the furniture that’s clearly not going to fit in your new abode, it’s frustratingly often not until you move in that you realise what you’ve brought with you is still just not going to work out. The colour or style may be all wrong for the space, and the way you find yourself using a room may mean your furniture feels like a mismatch
On the upside you have the perfect excuse to go shopping for new furniture.
Your outdoor & entertaining space shrinks
Moving to a smaller home almost always means a smaller backyard or only a courtyard or balcony, particularly if you’re moving from the suburbs into the inner city.
However, mowing the lawn will be a time-consuming chore of the past.
If you’re used to a spacious back deck with room for lounging and dining, believe it or not a compact backyard can still be a restful outdoor escape and a place to entertain family and friends. For example, making the most of a rear courtyard with built-in seating and a barbecue.
On a positive note a smaller garden allows you to actually enjoy gardening, rather than tiring yourself out trying to maintain it.
Cooking in compact kitchen
When you have metres of island bench space, banks of storage cabinets executing your culinary ambitions is relatively easy. However a smaller kitchen will require you to clean as you go, shop for ingredients more often, and often means your will need to pare back your serving ware, glassware and kitchen gadgets.
With a smaller kitchen you can look to embrace your downsized lifestyle and eat out more often – meet friends out for dinner instead of always having them over, head out for impromptu visits to new or favourite restaurants. Simplify the meals you do cook at home, focusing on recipes that use limited but high-quality produce and ingredients.
Multipurpose spaces and rooms
Many empty nesters have the luxury of turning rooms their children once occupied into everything from craft rooms and man caves, to home offices etc. Downsizers however must readjust to multi-purpose rooms and make do, particularly when guests are staying.
However on having less rooms the accumulation of stuff is less tempting. You’ll buy only what you need or genuinely love.
If your kitchen and laundry are now one, what to do with baskets of washing can become a challenge – separate laundries are prime dumping grounds for all manner of items, from shoes needing a clean to socks soaking in the sink. Doing smaller loads more often is the key to a successful kitchen/laundry combo.
Guests make their presence felt
Larger homes often come with guest rooms for visiting kids and grand-kids, but some downsizing empty nesters will have to get creative to squeeze in more than one guest at a time. Bunk beds, wall beds, sofa beds and air mattresses are all options.
6 important aspects to consider when downsizing:
- Costs – Consider the total cost of downsizing.
- Consult at least three real estate agents for appraisals of your family home so you can gauge how much can you realistically sell it for. Then research ask how much money will I have to invest in a new apartment?
- Start searching early for the right place to live. There are specific real estate websites that focus on apartment developments and retirement villages in Australia and overseas.
- If you plan to buy into a body corporate, check out the monthly fees and consider consulting a strata searcher to help you make the right decision.
- Depending on where you would like to live, calculate your cost of living, which might be higher in an inner-city environment.
- Think about what additional furniture you might need and if you can re-purpose existing pieces.
- Lifestyle – Take the time to thoroughly think about your desired lifestyle once downsizing.
- Embrace the change and be open to the opportunities that come with it.
- Consider which activities, hobbies or interests you want to pursue. How will you accommodate your hobbies, and what will you need to do so?
- If your hobby requires a studio or workshop, find like-minded people who are willing to share space.
- Now is the time to do the things you always wanted to do: exercise, start painting, join a writing group, travel, socialise with friends, and spend more quality time with your family.
- Experiment and try something new. You deserve it!
- Location – Choose a location that is close to the places you love and the services you need.
- Studies show that many retirees are not ready to retire from work in their 50s, but wish to downsize, pay off their mortgage and live a simpler life with less stuff.
- If you need to commute to work and prefer to use your car less often, choose a location close to public transport.
- A survey of 1,068 people – conducted by Seniors Housing Online– revealed that 88 per cent expect a garage or parking space, but 85.3 per cent also want to live near public transport facilities.
- Over 80 per cent said they were prepared to move away from their local area to find the right retirement property and lifestyle.
- Functionality – Examine the design features of a prospective new home.
- Whether buying an apartment off the plan or downsizing to an independent living unit in a retirement village, always have a close look at the features of your new home.
- There are a number of factors to consider. Ask yourself: How functional is it? Does it have enough storage options?
- Is there a balcony or courtyard that you can use as an outdoor area and additional room in the summer?
- What about traffic flow? Will thoroughfares still be wide enough once you have furnished the apartment?
- Does it have enough natural light?
- Consider consulting a professional to assist you in optimising the existing design according to your needs.
- Independence – Make sure your home allows for you to live in it safely, independently and comfortably for as long as possible.
- Unfortunately for many their health condition might deteriorate, and walking becomes difficult.
- If you intend to stay in your prospective apartment for the next 20 years, for example, have a close look at the details of its design.
- More questions to consider are: How accessible are the storage cupboards? Are they in easy reach, or is a step ladder required?
- How big is the bathroom? Can it be easily updated with safety features as grab rails, if necessary?
- How wide are clearances throughout the apartment? The smaller the apartment, the more important it is to work out
- Security – Do extensive checks on level of security and you will have peace of mind.
- The aspect of increased security in an apartment block can play an important role in the decision-making process when downsizing.
- If you are living on your own, it can be reassuring to know that you are not alone in the building, and that neighbours are within reach in case of an emergency.
The transition from being parents who are busy with work and family, who have to care for others, to being empty nesters does not have to a be a depressing one. This is an opportunity to have a new beginning in a new place, and to importantly a means to start focus on you and what you want in your life.
As an empty nester, it can feel daunting to plan the move you have longingly always dreamed about. Your current life and possessions are settled in one place and the sheer idea of packing up and transporting all your belongings and family memorabilia seems impossible. The stress begins to build, and so you begin to give up. There is just no way you can do it all on your own.…
Luckily, now you can get all the help you need to make your downsizing move a reality by simply contact Mooving matters, your experienced packing and unpacking service and moving company Sydney. Let us put together your own customized moving plan to suit your timing and budget.
To arrange a complementary on-site inspection of your property by Mooving Matters, your home organiser Sydney or to simply discuss our ‘Ultimate full service packing + moving’ experience call (02) 93375333 or visit us at moovingmatters.com.au.