For many of us, downsizing has always been part of the plan. Meet a guy or girl, settle down – perhaps with kids – in a large family home and then, when the time comes, sell up, release funds and retire to a smaller property in your dream location.
And whilst the idea of spending later life free from the worries of house upkeep might not have lost its sparkle, as the time to make your dream a reality approaches, nerves and niggles can set in about the challenges of downsizing in retirement.
We spoke to retirement property expert Sarah Gazard from MHA Wellesley Court in Waterlooville, to find out what decades of prior experience as an estate agent taught her about how to make the process easier.
Preparation is key
The old adage rings true as much for downsizing as it does for everything else – doing your research before you make any decisions will put you in the best position to make the right choice for you. If you’re planning to relocate, spend some time in the locations you have in mind. You don’t want to end up stuck somewhere where reality doesn’t live up to your expectations!
Even if you’re staying in the same area, it’s a good idea to get a feel for what sort of properties are available. From swish, new build apartments to traditional bungalows, there’s a huge variety out there and being informed means you won’t inadvertently miss out on something that could be perfect for you. Many people I show around our development are still a few years off actually making the move – don’t be afraid to request viewings even if you don’t plan to downsize just yet.
Focus on your end goal
Moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do – whatever your age. And it can feel like an even bigger task once you’re retired and you need to clear out years of clutter so as not to overcrowd a smaller home.
Concentrating on the new lease of life you’ll have once you’ve moved can really help to keep you motivated and positive about the whole process. Being nearer to family, releasing capital tied up in property and living in a community of like-minded individuals are all things that people downsizing could look forward to.
As retirement now lasts longer than ever, it’s never been more important to feel happy and secure in your ‘forever home’. Permanent peace of mind is priceless, and knowing that you can remain in your home, even if your abilities or care needs change, can take a huge weight off your shoulders – leaving you free to enjoy your retirement!
Get as much help as you can
There are plenty of professional services about specifically designed to help you through the moving process. A good solicitor, for example, will be able to fully explain fees and stamp duty to you to make sure you’re not caught out by any hidden costs. And don’t hesitate to shop around to find a solicitor that you’re comfortable with – as a key person guiding you through the move it’s important to spend some time finding the right one.
You also don’t have to rely on family and friends alone to help you with the physical move itself. There are companies which exist specifically to help older people move house. Often going by the name ‘Senior Move Managers’, they can lend a hand with everything from preparing your current house for sale to deciding which furniture will fit in your new home and transporting everything on moving day. A smooth transition can really help you to start your new life as you mean to go on.
Ultimately, I think the key to a happy downsizing experience is to start early. Don’t be tempted to leave it until ill-health or other personal issues make moving a necessity – start life in your new home whilst you’re still healthy and active enough to enjoy it!
About Sarah Gazard
Sarah Gazard is Senior Community Living Advisor at the newly-completed Wellesley Court retirement development in Waterlooville.
Last modified: June 10, 2021