Your Essential Guide To Downsizing

Couple looking to move into a smaller home
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The definition of downsizing is to reduce in size. So downsizing your home simply means moving to a smaller property. In order to make more room, this involves getting rid of personal property and prioritising what’s necessary to enjoy the benefits of smaller living. See your essential guide to downsizing here!

Downsizing is for people:

  • Wanting to have less responsibility, a smaller workload, and increased cash flow
  • Moving due to work relocation
  • Who have mobility problems and need to choose a home with greater accessibility

How to make your downsize move more manageable

Declutter

When you’ve made the decision to downsize your home you need to be hard-hearted when it comes to deciding what items you should dispose of. Use the rule that if you haven’t used or worn an item for 12 months then you can really do without it! Getting rid of duplicates is a good example of how you can declutter without too much effort.

Before you start to declutter your home a good idea is to make a plan with specific goals for all the rooms you want to tackle. Take one room or space at a time, and set a finishing date for each phase, with deadlines that are achievable. Work on areas that you know will take longer such as the garage or the loft on a different day to avoid any additional stress.

Create a system that lets you sort as you work. Having containers that separate items are an easy way to ensure goods are thrown away, disposed of, or safely stored for moving. There are several options for getting rid of goods and these include recycling, donations to your local charity, or even having a garage sale.

If you’re disposing of large items that are unsuitable for sale or charity gifting then hiring a skip is a sound option here. The skip can be delivered directly to your door and collected once filled.

Measure up

Having a clear guide of how much space you’ll have in your new property is key to determining what items you’ll have to get rid of. Planning where your large pieces of furniture will go is a good starting point. If your downsize home plan is to move from a three-bedroom to a two bedroomed property you won’t need three beds or three wardrobes for instance.

If items are too large to fit comfortably in given spaces you may have to consider selling them and replacing them with smaller versions. If there’s not a designated area for specific items simply don’t take them. Bear in mind you may need to be creative in using space effectively under the stairs, on the walls, and in-room corners in your new home.

Make a floor plan

A good floor plan should be one of the first steps you take that helps avoid simple mistakes when moving that can cause undue stress. Knowing that your furniture will actually fit through the doors is just one example!

If you create a floor plan that contains the exact size and shape of your furniture, you’ll be able to decide prior to your downsize house move where all items will go. This accuracy will save you a great deal of time when you physically move, and if you make a copy of the plan you can give it to your movers so they know exactly where to place everything on arrival.

Structure your packing

packing boxes for moving house
Image source: Shutterstock

Good quality moving boxes are a real asset here as strong outer cases will help protect the items inside. You can save time by colour coding these boxes with coloured stickers that relate to specific rooms. This identification means that boxes can be out in the right location, to begin with, when you move into your new home.

Pack the boxes carefully without leaving empty space that can potentially cause damage – use linens, towels, or clothing to fill the gaps. Fill saucepans and other sealable containers with small items, and remember to safely wrap knives and sharp objects with cloths and use a rubber band to secure them.

An alternative is to use a professional packing service where the task is carried out by skilled and insured packers. This is particularly useful when you need help with moving antiques or fragile items that need additional protection.

Pros and cons of downsizing

The advantages of property downsizing include reducing your monthly outgoings as relocating from a four-bedroom to a two-bedroom property could save you money on tax, insurance and ongoing maintenance. This will result in increased money left over each month for things you would like to buy. Smaller homes also require less interior cleaning and exterior upkeep. Fewer rooms cut down on time spent on household chores, and less green space makes for easy gardening.

By selling your house and buying a smaller property you can benefit from equity release, using these funds to help pay off your mortgage or simply to receive an annual income to couple with a state pension. Moving to a smaller property also has health benefits. With less responsibility, fewer financial worries, and a smaller workload, stress is reduced and replaced with happiness and contentment.

You need to take into account that there are some disadvantages too. You may be distressed when you have to sell or give away possessions that you’re attached to as you have less space and fewer rooms to enjoy quiet times. And you might not have room for guests as in your previous property.

Downsizing also brings a change in lifestyle which can be initially hard to adapt to if you’ve lived in the home you’re moving from for many years. This natural resistance can often be enhanced if you’re leaving behind family and friends and moving to a completely new neighbourhood.

When should you downsize?

There’s nothing to say exactly when you should downsize. It could be brought about by changes in your life such as retirement, moving to be closer to family members, if you’re suffering from ill health and need fewer responsibilities, or you want to be in a location that has better transport links with close proximity to amenities. The COVID pandemic is another reason for downsizing and making that move from the city into the country.

Is downsizing worth the effort?

You’ll obviously need to consider the costs of selling your property before downsizing. These include estate agents and conveyancing fees, stamp duty, and moving costs. Moving house is considered to be one of life’s most stressful events, so you need to be relatively fit and healthy to deal with completing your house move. But the effort will all be worthwhile as you benefit from many financial and practical aspects and get a huge psychological boost too!

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