Downsizing - your complete guide
Everything you need to know about downsizing.
Downsizing is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, with a recent study finding that almost half of over 55s plan to downsize to live in smaller and more affordable accommodation in later life. For some, you might consider downsizing if:
Planning ahead and making sure you have all the information you need can help make the move into a new home easier and worry free.
Living bigger doesn’t always mean living better. For many there are big advantages to downsizing – from saving money, which can be used to pursue hobbies or put towards travel, to gaining back precious time once spent maintaining your home.
If you’re looking to downsize but still want to own your home, you could opt to buy a flat, bungalow or retirement home. Remaining on the property ladder can sometimes be more affordable than renting and you have the freedom of being able to make any home/garden improvements that you’d like to without having to consult a landlord.
Renting somewhere smaller than your current home could mean your monthly outgoings and general running costs are lower. Selling to rent in retirement also offers flexibility to move to new areas such as those closer to family members.
It’s important to remember that monthly rents can be extremely high in certain areas of the country and that landlords have the right to end tenancies and increase your monthly rental charges.
Moving somewhere with other likeminded people, such as a supported housing scheme or independent living apartment, may be for you as they offer companionship, support from staff and extra services like meals, cleaning and laundry. Often the monthly fee also includes things such as council tax and utilities so you can truly live worry free.
Instead of moving into a new property, you may decide that making enhancements and modifications to your current home is a better solution for you.
- Installing a stair lift or handrails.
- Installing or upgrading your WiFi.
- Purchasing specialist furniture such as beds, bath hoists and ramps will make staying at home as comfortable as it can be.
- Consider organising care from a domiciliary care agency or organisation.
If the option is available to you, moving in with family members can be a great alternative to downsizing.
Before moving in with family it’s important to make sure you are all on the same page and want the same things from the move.
Consider how practical it will be living in their house – will your mobility be an issue? Will you have the level of independence you want in later life? Who will look after you if you need care?
Come up with an agreement about paying rent or helping financially towards bills. Be honest and open with family about any apprehensions you may have, and make sure you all agree on what to do if the living arrangements aren’t working.
Remember to be patient with yourself and everyone else in the house – moving back in with family members will be stressful and it may take time for everyone to adjust.
When moving to a smaller living space, there will likely be personal items that you’ll no longer have the room for. It’s important to go through all of your possessions as early as possible into the moving process and decide what you’re going to throw and what you’re going to keep.
For those items that hold sentimental value or that you want to eventually pass down to younger relatives, it’s a good idea to consider buying or renting a storage unit if you do not have room for them in your new home.
Investing in a storage unit during the downsizing process will allow you to organise your belongings, reduce any excess clutter, and most importantly keep your precious items safe. Most reputable self storage companies should allow you to use their facilities as flexibly as you need to, with different sizing and access options available to suit individual requirements.
After choosing your unit, the company you buy with should guide you through the process of moving your belongings in. As with anything, it’s important to do your research before choosing which storage unit is right for you. Take a look at some of the UK’s biggest storage companies, who you can contact for a quote:
By adding your personal touch to the space and making sure you’re spending more time in your new surroundings, you’ll soon start to feel at home.
It may seem obvious, but it’s hard to feel at home surrounded by cardboard boxes! Enlist the help of relatives to start taking things out of boxes and putting them into place around your home. It will soon feel more like your own space when your things are brought in.
Print your favourite pictures and display them different areas of your house. Having photos of friendly faces and happy memories will really help towards making your new home feel like home.
If possible, redecorate your living space and put your own stamp on it. Choose colours and items that will make you feel like your new space is your own.
Not only do they help brighten up a room, plants and flowers have actually been proven to positively impact our mental wellbeing, help to reduce stress and boost our mood! Having something to look after and care for can also help to reduce feelings of loneliness, isolation and even depression.
Perhaps one of the best ways to start feeling more at home in your new place is to invite your family and friends round. It can be difficult adjusting to a new way of life and the support from loved ones can really help with this process. Enlist their help in the unpacking and redecorating or throw a new home party to mark the start of the next stage in your new life!
It’s a difficult topic to broach, and it can be hard to know where to start if you’d like to open up a conversation with your parents about moving into a smaller, more manageable house. Whether you’ve noticed that they can no longer walk up the stairs easily or think they might be better off with a smaller house to maintain, it’s important to start the conversation early.
If you have your worries about their current living situation, gently express your concerns and ensure they know that you’re there for them during the whole process. Chat to your other siblings first, if you have any, and make sure you’re all in agreement about what is best for your parents. Explain the many benefits there are of downsizing and help them when researching different downsizing options.
If some form of supported housing or retirement community is the option that’s right for your family, offer to go with them to have a look around, and make sure they know you’ll be there for them on moving in day.
Remember, moving from the family home is a huge emotional decision that may be very stressful, so always remain patient and respectful of their emotions when dealing with the situation.