These days, one of the burning questions for over 55s as they near or enter retirement is: Should I downsize the family home?
It’s 100% a personal question and the answer will depend on your circumstances. And without a crystal ball, it’s difficult to know. However, asking yourself the right questions, can help you make the right call.
So, in this article we’re sharing 5 important questions that are a good starting point as you explore your options and consider whether downsizing is the right move for you.
Am I using every room in the house?
Have you lived in the family home for years are now an ‘empty nester’? There’s a good chance you have excess space you’re no longer using. While this can be handy when family or friends come to stay, if you’re not using rooms on a regular basis it may be a sign your existing home is too big for your needs.
When you have surplus rooms, you are potentially wasting time and effort on keeping them clean. You may be tempted to fill them up with your excess belongings, which creates clutter that can fast get on top of you. And unless you can zone these rooms off, you’re wasting money on heating and cooling as well. In contrast, a smaller home keeps everything within easy reach. It will also reduce cleaning and your energy bills too.
Is the maintenance and cleaning becoming too difficult to manage?
One of the biggest reasons older Australians choose to downsize is to reduce the amount of cleaning and maintenance required. Downsizing to a smaller home with low-maintenance features, can significantly reduce the workload around your home which gives you more time to do the things you enjoy.
In addition, as you age there will be things that will be physically too much for you to manage on your own. And while you may still need to mow the lawn and clean the gutters in a smaller home, the expense of getting in extra help will be far less compared to a larger property.
Am I in the right location?
Choosing the right home for your retirement is about more than the house itself – it’s equally important to be living in a location that suits your needs. For you this may be close to family and friends. Or within easy reach of the supermarket, library, gym, swimming pool, or any other facilities you regularly use.
Also consider if you enjoy the surrounds. Are you happy living in the suburbs or are you dreaming of a sea change, tree change or move to the city?
Would I be more financially comfortable?
Being financially comfortable as you enter retirement is really important, and this is another big reason why many choose to downsize. Keep in mind that not all smaller homes will see you make a profit on the sale of your home as location will have a big impact on the price. If you do sell your home and downsize to a house that costs less, you have an opportunity to pay off any outstanding debt (if you have some) or save the extra to fund your retirement.
Make sure you seek professional advice before taking the plunge. It’s important to find out how you can maximise the profits of your sale, while minimising any reductions to your pension or other allowances.
Is my existing home suitable for my needs as I age?
While your family home may suit you quite well now, it’s a good idea to look ahead. Think about any features that may become a problem as you get older. For example, if you have a steep block or stairs, in years to come you’ll likely find these challenging to navigate.
A home with features that make you comfortable and daily tasks easier will vastly improve your quality of life. Even if you have plenty of time up your sleeve before it become an issue, don’t leave it too late. Moving is never easy and it only gets harder as you age.
Give yourself time to weigh up the options
Downsizing is definitely not a decision to take lightly. Aside from the sentimental attachments you have with the family home, selling, buying and moving can be stressful enough, without the worry that you’ve rushed into something that’s not right for you.
Having said that, don’t put it in the too hard basket either. Start the conversation with your partner, family and friends now, and begin asking yourself the above questions. Essentially what you need to know is if your existing house will be suitable for you as you move through your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. If there are question marks and these areas can’t be adjusted or managed, biting the bullet and downsizing could make the world of difference to your health, safety and happiness in the years ahead.