An Essential Guide to Downsizing Your Home
Downsizing is when you move into a smaller property. It is becoming increasingly popular amongst homeowners, especially elderly movers. There are a number of benefits to downsizing, including reducing your expenses and improving your finances.
According to research by Audley Villages, approximately 1.8 million homeowners over the age of 55 in the UK are considering downsizing earlier than planned due to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns in 2020. It’s not surprising that so many people are now considering moving to smaller properties, but it should be noted that it takes a lot of organisation and planning to complete.
As the home of moving home, Compare My Move works alongside a range of property and finance experts to create useful guides that will aid you through every step of the moving process. In this article, we will discuss both the pros and cons of downsizing, as well as what to think about when viewing smaller homes.
How Do You Downsize Your Home?
Bigger doesn’t always mean better, so downsizing your home could be the solution. However, it can often be a lengthy process so it’s vital you research the steps involved before you begin. To ensure you’re prepared for the process, we’ve created a list of simple steps to follow to help you downsize your house.
1. Speak to a Financial Advisor
Moving house is a big investment regardless, let alone if you’re moving from a property you’ve been living in for a while. It’s advised you speak to a financial adviser before setting any plans in motion to ensure you can realistically afford the move and to ensure the process won’t affect you financially as you get older.
It would also be wise to contact your mortgage lender and start comparing conveyancing quotes.
2. Assess Your Needs
Don’t forget to carefully assess your current and future needs when downsizing, especially if you’re close to retirement.
The older you get, the more your lifestyle and circumstances will change and so you should keep this in mind when viewing new properties. For example, consider the risk of increased mobility problems which would affect factors such as the stairs within the home, whether it’s a single storey, how far from town it’s situated and whether ramps could be fitted in the future.
3. Consider the Type of Property You Want
There are a number of property types that you can purchase to help you downsize. Now that you’ve carefully assessed your future needs, you can begin thinking about what type of property will be most helpful.
When downsizing, you should consider moving to a:
- Smaller house or flat
- Retirement village
- Park home
4. Put Your Home on the Market
Once you’ve officially decided that downsizing is the right option for you, you can begin putting your property on the market. Speak to your mortgage lender and conveyancing solicitor before getting started and don’t forget to have the home valued to help set a more realistic asking price. Once this is set in motion, you can begin viewing suitable properties and consider making an offer.
5. Take Measurements
When viewing smaller properties, don’t forget to take measurements of your current furniture and rooms as you will be moving into a home with less space. If possible, try to obtain a floorplan of the new home to help you work out in advance where your furniture can be placed and what may need to be put into storage. This will greatly help you when you begin cleaning and decluttering your home before the move.
6. Declutter Your Current Home
Downsizing means moving to a smaller property - of course, this means having less space to store all your belongings. It’s a good idea to declutter your home before any house move, but especially when downsizing. Be ruthless and keep reminding yourself that less space means fewer items can be taken with you.
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When Should You Downsize Your House?
Many people will decide to downsize once their children have grown up and moved out, as they no longer require a family-sized property. However, there are a number of reasons why downsizing might be the right option for you.
Your Current Home is Too Big
One of the main reasons people choose to downsize is because their current home no longer meets their needs. If you have a large, family-sized home but your children have now flown the nest or no longer need the space, then moving into a more appropriately sized home will help you save money and feel much more comfortable.
You’re Moving Abroad
If you’re thinking about moving abroad or travelling for a while, then downsizing could be a great option for you. Most movers travelling abroad prefer to downsize and find a more affordable property, as it ensures they still have a home in the UK whilst also cutting down their monthly costs.
Downsizing to Save Money
Downsizing to a less expensive property can help you raise more money which you could then use to supplement your pension, pay off your mortgage loan or spend any way you wish. Not only could your mortgage repayments decrease with a smaller home, but they are also typically cheaper to run and maintain.
Don’t forget to carefully research the property market in the area you wish to move to as property prices can vary greatly. Discuss your options with a mortgage broker and ensure that the new property will indeed be able to cut down your costs and help you save money.
There’s a Change in Health or Mobility
Your health and mobility affect your day-to-day life, meaning even the smallest of changes can make a drastic difference. If your current property is big, you may find it difficult to move around and make use of the space available. This can be especially true with elderly movers, particularly if the property has steep stairs or external steps. This is why many people will move to a bungalow or even an apartment after retiring. It ensures they’re downsizing to a more appropriate building that they can feel comfortable in.
Even something as simple as not having a car anymore can make a big difference. Downsizing could be a great opportunity to relocate closer to friends and family as well as cut down your commuting costs.
Raising Funds for Your Retirement
Many people who enter retirement will downsize their homes to release equity as selling their homes and moving to a smaller property will usually be more cost-effective than an equity-release scheme.
A smaller property is likely going to cost a lot less than the house you currently live in. The average downsizer now sells their home for more than £100,000 profit, £8,000 more than people in the same situation 10 years ago. However, it’s important to note that this will vary depending on your personal circumstances, meaning you should discuss your options with your lender or solicitor before deciding.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Downsizing?
From freeing up equity to creating a fresh start, there are many benefits of downsizing your home. However, it’s not always the best decision and you should research the steps involved carefully before deciding. Below are the main advantages and disadvantages of downsizing your house.
Possibility to free up equity
A smaller property means less space
Potentially cut utility costs
Results in lifestyle changes
Less responsibility and maintenance with a smaller home
Potentially leaving family and friends after the move
Provides you with a fresh start
Property prices can be unpredictable
Find a more suitable home and location
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What to Consider Before Downsizing
Before you decide which type of property to move to, don’t forget to consider the important details that will change when moving to a smaller home. There are a few essential things to do before moving into an apartment or smaller property.
It may sound simple, but many people forget this aspect. As you get older, your mobility or health could start to decrease. Therefore, it’s important you consider the number of steps either in or outside of the property, as well as how steep or difficult they are to manoeuvre around.
Even though it’s obvious that downsizing results in less space, it’s still important to consider room sizes when viewing properties. You need to ensure your current furniture can fit in the home or calculate the costs that will need to be added should you need to buy more.
You may decide to declutter your home before downsizing, but you will likely still have plenty of belongings to take with you. Make sure that every bedroom can fit at least a wardrobe and a bedside cabinet. When viewing the kitchen, check that there are enough cupboards for all your appliances and utensils.
Before selling your property, you may want to consider renting as an option. Depending on your personal circumstances, it may make more financial sense to rent out your current home to help earn a little extra income. This will then ensure that you remain the current owner whilst also being able to downsize to a smaller home.
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