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The downsizing dilemma

Have you noticed how common the expression “downsizing” is used nowadays? It’s almost reached the stage where people assume that as soon as anyone has watched their children “leave the nest” they will immediately sell the family home and move to an apartment in Docklands. But it’s far more complicated than that…just ask anyone in that position!

If you chat with anyone born in the first half of the “Baby Boom”, (say 1946 to 1955), they will often acknowledge that the approach of retirement and an abundance of unused space at home will often get them thinking about freeing up some of the capital that is tied up in the family home. This is particularly the case when property values are moving upwards, such as they are now.

But the equation is not that simple. For example, the most recent census data reveals that more than 90% of Australians have at least one unoccupied bedroom in the house. But as any parent will tell you, the children that have flown the nest have a habit of coming back again nowadays…which can make life very awkward if you’ve moved to a smaller apartment.

Similar issues can arrive once the kids who’ve left the nest start having offspring of their own, and start looking around for family members who can provide cheap child minding. Sound familiar? Then, of course, there is the other issue of potentially moving away from a network of friends, services, doctors, advisors, etc., that may have been built up over 20, 30 or even 40 years.

Many people find it difficult to find suitable downsizing accommodation close to all of these important facilities. These sorts of considerations need to be weighed up against the benefits of downsizing. These can include a potential windfall of several hundred thousand dollars when selling a larger home and buying a smaller residence, although this is not always the case if this involves moving closer to town.

Of course, the lifestyle benefits of low maintenance, ultra convenient lifestyle also come into the equation. As you can see, decisions like this are very personal, and often very emotional rather than totally logical.

So don’t allow anyone else’s expectations or preconceptions to push you into making a decision before you are ready. Take your time and think things through carefully before you commit to a major change in life.