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Downsizing your House: A complete guide to downsizing

Downsizing home may be on your mind if the kids have flown the nest, or you have retired. However, the question may remain: is downsizing a good idea? To help you understand how to downsize, and decide whether it’s for you, we have compiled our own helpful guide.

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Downsizing definition: What is downsizing?

Downsizing is moving to a smaller home than the one you currently live in. People may choose to move to a smaller home for a variety of reasons, such as having extra money in the bank for retirement, cutting the cost of bills, and having an easier space to maintain.

 

Do I need to downsize?

There are many things to consider around downsizing, and only you can decide whether you need to or not. However, you’ll find that there are many pros and cons which will help you decide the ultimate question: is downsizing worth it?

Advantages of downsizing

  • Downsizing can put extra money in the bank as you sell your home and buy a less expensive one.
  • Moving to a smaller home will mean you spend less time on maintenance, such as cleaning and tidying.
  • The cost of running a smaller home will be lower than what you currently pay. One example is your heating bills; it will cost less to heat a smaller home compared to a larger one.
  • You can choose a property better suited to your needs. For instance, if you have developed mobility issues, you can choose a smaller property that is more accessible. You may find that a two-bedroom bungalow is a better fit than your current three-bedroom house, as the obstacle of a staircase is removed and there is less space to maintain.

Disadvantages of downsizing

  • It may be difficult to part with the memories your home holds for you.
  • Moving house has a lot of upfront costs, including estate agent and conveyancing fees, potential stamp duty, and the associated costs of the move itself in the form of removal services or van hire.
  • While the value of your property may have increased, you may struggle to find a property you like in your preferred location.
  • If you’re downsizing because of a new health diagnosis, the process of selling and buying can create stress which may compound your condition.

Sofa with ornament on coffee table

When is the right time to downsize your home?

A question you may be asking yourself is, when is the best time to downsize your home? This depends on a variety of factors, such as if you have a family, if you’re retired, if you have a disability, and so on. Coping with downsizing is a key element in choosing the right time to relocate.

Downsizing with a family

Downsizing with a family may sound questionable – surely we all need more space, not less? Well, there are a few benefits to consider before dismissing the idea altogether. Maybe the cost of running your household is simply too much, the maintenance is breaking the bank or you’re spending too much time hoovering every nook and cranny.

In this case, downsizing can be a great opportunity to minimise these bug bears and make the most of family life. Not only is it a great opportunity to declutter and stop filling your home with unnecessary stuff, it’s a way to reduce household bills and have some extra money in the pot for holidays, university, or general day-to-day costs.

Downsizing in your 50s

You may find that your fifties are a good time to reflect on life. The kids may be at university or starting their own lives elsewhere, or you just may find that your house has outgrown you. This can be the ideal time to take stock of what you want in life. Do you want to live closer to the children who have relocated? Or would you like to spend more time travelling and exploring the world? In any instance, downsizing can reduce wasted space and give you the financial freedom to pursue later-life interests.

Downsizing in your 60s

When you reach your sixties, it’s natural to start thinking about your twilight years. Many people ask how to downsize for retirement, and our advice is to think about this ahead of time. It’s better to downsize when you have the resilience to withstand the stress, as getting older can bring health and mobility issues which may make a move more difficult. Downsizing at this point in life is a great way to make sure you’re close to family and friends with whom who you can enjoy your retirement.

Shelving unit behind chair in home

How to downsize

Downsizing home ideas

There are many avenues to explore when downsizing, such as the type of properties which suit your needs best. These may include a:

  • Smaller house
  • Bungalow
  • Park home, otherwise known as a mobile home
  • Flat
  • Accessible home
  • Retirement complex

How to start downsizing

Before you downsize, consider your reason behind doing so. Is this definitely what you want to do, and if not, is there another avenue can you explore?

Once you have settled on downsizing, the first thing to do is decide what kind of property will suit you best. Do you require something accessible, such as a bungalow? Would you like to be part of a community at a retirement complex?

Having looked at your ideal property type, it’s time to consider where you want your smaller home to be. Will it be in the same area, closer to family, or a swap from urban to rural or vice versa?

If the cost of your preferred property is too high in a certain area, consider if there is somewhere on the outskirts that works for you. If not, can you compromise on the type of property you choose?

How to downsize your home for retirement

When downsizing for retirement, it’s important to consider how your needs will change over the years. Will the home you choose be accessible for you in older age? Try to think of the long-term picture – key considerations could be proximity to loved ones, how easy it is to move around, and how easily it can be maintained. Watch out for things like steep winding driveways, as these can quickly become a burden if your mobility decreases.

Your home will also likely be packed to the brim with sentimental family memories and various items collected over the years. In which case, we recommend asking if family members would like to take anything, as this way your memories stay with loved ones. Alternatively, you can look into self-storage.

How to downsize your council house

For people living in council homes, downsizing isn’t only easier, but actively incentivised. Depending on your local council, you could be eligible for a variety of schemes such as cash incentives, housing exchanges, and seaside or country homes.

How to downsize your home quickly

Moving to a new house is notoriously stressful. The process involves a lot of administration, waiting and work, which can put anyone off downsizing. However, there are ways to make the process quicker.

If your house has sold quickly but you haven’t yet found your perfect new home, you could always look at rental properties. This will give you the chance to test a type of home and location without a long-term commitment. On the other hand, part-exchange may be for you – this is a scheme where downsizers can trade in their house against the value of a new build property. The part exchange scheme is particularly attractive to those seeking a quick downsize, and often comes with added bonuses from the developer. They may cover stamp duty, moving costs, or offer incentives such as free white goods.

How to adjust to downsizing

The best way to prepare for a downsize is to declutter effectively before you move. It can be emotional and distressing to part with belongings, but there are many positives to be had. Your family and friends will be more than happy to take items off your hands, especially ones with sentimental value. You should also remember that anything you give away, donate, or recycle is being given a new lease of life. Just think of how much a family or student in need will enjoy your old items!

House key placed in door lock

Tips for downsizing possessions

Marie Kondo went viral with her ultimate decluttering question, ‘does this spark joy?’, and it’s a great question to ask. Downsizing means that some possessions may have to go, and the best way to do this is by organising your things into separate piles. Start with two, a keep and a leave pile. Once you’ve got a pile of things you’re happy to part with, think about what can be donated, recycled or sent to landfill.

Downsizing household goods

Household goods, such as washing machines and dishwashers, may be able to be sold, donated or recycled if your new home comes with these items.

Downsizing clutter

You have probably accumulated a lot of stuff over the years, and downsizing is a great incentive to declutter. Have you got masses of DVDs in your garage? With streaming services readily available, why not sell these and make both financial and storage gains?

Using storage to downsize

If you’re downsizing, storage is a great option for those not wanting to freely declutter. Self-storage solutions can provide an easy, clean and secure way to store your beloved items away from your main living space.

Corner unit with plants and books inside home

More common questions about downsizing your home

Can the council force you to downsize?

No; most council tenants are secure, which means they can only be evicted in certain situations and are therefore in a lifetime tenancy for as long as they want.

However, if you are in an introductory, flexible or temporary tenancy, they may request you to downsize. However, this will be clearly explained in your contract which states what kind of tenancy you have and what this means.

Do the council pay you to downsize?

Many councils around the country will have a council downsizing scheme, which offers incentives to move to a smaller property.

This can include, but is not limited to, a cash supplement, moving support such as help with packing and a paid removals van, and practical assistance such as redirecting your mail.

How does downsizing affect the residence nil rate band?

According to gov.uk, if someone has sold, gifted or downsized to a less valuable home before they die, their estate may still be eligible for the residence nil rate band (RNRB). However, the following conditions must be met to qualify:

  • The person gifted, sold, or downsized to a less valuable home on or after 8 July 2015
  • Their former home would have qualified for the RNRB if they’d kept it until they’d died
  • Their direct descendants inherit at least some of the estate.

Should empty nesters downsize?

No one should feel pressured into downsizing. If you’re an empty nester, there are a few advantages and disadvantages to consider along with your own personal circumstances.

Perhaps your children regularly visit and you’re keeping on top of household maintenance and costs. On the other hand, maybe now is the opportunity to move closer to your children and get a more accessible house. It entirely depends on your personal circumstances.

Should I downsize before retirement?

If you think your house may be inaccessible to you in later life, it may be a good idea to downsize before retirement. This enables you to go through the process of moving before it becomes too overwhelming and stressful.

Not only could downsizing offer you more financial security in your twilight years, but it also means that retirement can be spent relaxing and enjoying extra time with family and friends as you won’t have as much to do around the house.

Should I downsize to be mortgage free?

Downsizing to be mortgage free is a common motive for many homeowners and comes with a range of benefits.

If you’re an empty nester, downsizing can enable you to retire earlier and remove excessive household maintenance duties. Alternatively, you may be retiring, looking for somewhere more accessible, or you have simply found your dream home. Whatever the motivation, downsizing can slash mortgage costs and help supplement your bank balance, or even your retirement pot.

How can I help my parents downsize?

Downsizing can be a difficult and emotional decision, so supporting your parents with their downsize is a great thing to do.

There is a wide range of ways you can help your parents. It could be planning the logistics, helping with heavy lifting, or decluttering.

One easy way to be a huge help is by taking things off their hands, such as heirlooms or furniture. They may not have room for something that means a lot to them, so knowing that certain possessions are going to a family member can help them stay positive about letting go of items with huge sentimental value.

It’s also important to remember that simply offering your support will be priceless for your parents.

Need help downsizing?

If you’re downsizing and need the assistance of a storage unit to help look after your belongings, we’re more than happy to lend a hand at Titan Storage. With 24/7 access, 365 days of the year, you’ll be able to retrieve any items you realise you need whenever you need them and, with our personalised security pin, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that only you can access your belongings. With monthly payments, you can store for as long or short a time as you need.

If you’d be interested in a quote for storage, click here and find out what will work best for your home move.