As an experienced real estate agent in our neighbourhood, I’ve helped many couples form a strategy for where they want to live, and what else they want to experience in life as they head into retirement. As an agent, it’s an incredibly exciting project in which to participate.
Downsizing is a significant and emotional decision because it usually involves selling the family home, and letting go of possessions that have been with you for years. But it’s also liberating!
Couples who have downsized successfully have made financial independence their key goal. If you’re going to move to a smaller property, it’s a great idea to end up with no mortgage and – if possible – be completely debt-free with some money behind you to enjoy.
I could share a thousand tips with you for downsizing both your property and your life, but below are a few ideas to get you off to a great start.
1. Pay off your mortgage
Being debt-free is a key reason to downsize. Create and keep to your budget when you start to look for a new home. Smaller properties are not always less expensive, so you need to have a certain amount of financial discipline in your search.
2. Say no to an in-home gym
Resist the urge to buy a property with room for an in-home gym, and avoid a swimming pool and a big garden. You want to minimise your footprint and maintenance obligations. If these amenities are important to you, consider an apartment or in a complex that offers on-site recreational facilities.
3. That’s entertainment
When downsizing, be honest with yourself about how much you wish to entertain family and friends. Do you need a big kitchen? Perhaps a small barbeque area might be sufficient. Avoid investing in expensive features that, ultimately, you might use once or twice a year.
4. Measure up
Once you’ve found your perfect new home, it’s a smart idea to measure your furniture to see what will fit. Smaller homes need appropriately-sized furniture. You can feel cramped and unhappy if you furnish your home with oversized pieces that you couldn’t bring yourself to throw out.
5. Drop-dead deadline
When you begin the inevitable clear-out of possessions, you’ll find many items that belong to other members of the family, especially your children. Give them a deadline for collecting their possessions. If they go past it, you know what to do. You’re not a storage unit for your adult children.
6. Go digital
Don’t take up space in your new home with storage for documents. Get them digitised, and keep important papers, such as passports and birth certificates, in a safe deposit box.