Streamline the Downsize

Downsizing doesn’t have to mean scaling back.

Downsizing has become the contemporary buzz word for those ‘of a certain age’ to move from the large family home to a smaller property. The reasons for the move are many and varied – children moved out, finally; retiring and want to travel; partnership split or death of a partner, or in many cases, wanting to actually ‘spend the inheritance’. Finally take the opportunity to realise the wealth you’ve built up in a long-held property to fulfil those life dreams!

We work with a lot of clients in our conveyancing, estates and family law practices, who have or are in the process of downsizing and we offer some tips to streamline the process and ensure the outcome meets your expectations.

Say Goodbye to the Neighbourhood

Many downsizers have the dream of moving closer to the city from their leafy suburb to enjoy the inner-city lifestyle – close to theatres, cultural sites, transport and facilities. But dreams are often a far cry from reality. Do you really want to leave the neighbourhood, your neighbours, favourite shops and services and have to make all new connections?

Many people find it difficult adapting to an entirely new location and community, especially if moving from suburb to city. City dwelling can be a far more anonymous style of living which doesn’t suit everyone.

Here’s a tip – before making the decision, if you can afford it, take a short-term rental, Airbnb or hotel accommodation in the area you are considering moving to. Spend a few weeks, months or longer, exploring the area and really getting a feel for if it is right for you.

Alternatively, downsize temporarily to rental accommodation before making the decision to purchase. This will give you time to decide if the new location meets your expectations.

Boutique Style Small or Just Cramped and Confined

Obviously downsizers are doing just that – sizing down to a smaller residence. But small doesn’t have to mean confined and cramped. Many downsizers find it difficult to adjust from large home to smaller accommodation. But there are developers who appreciate this burgeoning market and are purpose-building boutique style developments to suit downsizers and retirees. Many even include some communal facilities such as a bar or recreational area in the foyer.

If you do want a small unit, look for those with a spacious feel. Balconies, upper levels, loads of windows, plenty of built-ins and a pleasing outlook all enhance the feeling of spaciousness in a small apartment.

Also consider the cost of new furniture if your existing won’t fit in the new property.

Low Maintenance or Pay for The Privilege

One of the key reasons that older people downsize is to reduce the amount of work they need to do on maintaining their property. To appeal to this market, many new developments are advertised as ‘low maintenance’. Before jumping in for carefree days – leaving pool cleaning and gardening as distant memories – have a close look at the maintenance fees for the development and how well it is actually maintained. Is it up to your standards?

You may not be actually doing the maintenance yourself, but you may be paying for the privilege of having it done for you.

Real or Implied Sense of Security  

Many older homes don’t have the latest security installations and often have numerous windows and doors which can present security risks. Downsizing is a great opportunity to move to a more secure residence and this is a major consideration for many people. Take a note of the security features and installations of the property you are considering – electronic gates and entry doors, effective lighting in common areas, high tech features as well as the non-built feature such as closeness to neighbours.

Ensure the property actually has the level of security that you are seeking and not simply a ‘sense of safeness’ which can be felt when moving from a house to a unit complex.

When Compromise is Not an Option

Downsize in space doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality, luxury or inclusions. Ensure your new property meets your level of quality finishes and has all the appliances, inclusions and features that you want and demand, for your lifestyle.

If you really love cooking, then make sure the property not only has a great state-of-the-art kitchen but also enough dining and entertaining space for your needs. If you have mobility issues, ensure the development has easy access into the property and within the property. Is the bathroom what you are looking for? Many new developments don’t include a bath – just a shower – so keep that in mind if you like to luxuriate in the tub! If your car is a prized possession, ensure the garaging facilities meet your requirements.

And don’t forget storage!! In your large family home you likely have plenty of spaces to store your possessions. Most modern developments don’t have the same amount of storage space you may be expecting.

So when it comes to downsizing, it doesn’t have to mean scaling back on your life in every aspect. It just means considering many issues and being honest with what you really want and what you are prepared to pay for.

If you’re considering a downsize, please call myself or one of our team to discuss your property matters. Our team is extremely experienced in all types of conveyancing matters and can advise you across all stages of the process.

We hope you find this story of interest and for more information, contact our conveyancing team to assist you throughout the entire retirement village selection and entry process. Please contact John McLaughlin, McLaughlin & Associates Lawyers, 07 3808 7777 for a confidential discussion.