Embrace the benefits of downsizing

Swapping the family home for a smaller pad is a challenge, but it could be the beginning of an adventure.

The days of buying your forever home, the house you’ll raise your family and grow old in, have been relegated to the past as more people embrace the benefits of downsizing. Increasingly, home owners in their 50s, 60s and 70s are moving out of the big, empty house and swapping it for something smaller and more suited to their needs. Downsizing won’t be for everyone but you’ll know it’s right for you if your family home is feeling too big, if you want to be closer to your children who have moved away, if your house is too costly to run, or if it has too many stairs. Downsizing can also suit those people who want to release equity in their home to supplement their pension or retirement fund.

However, downsizing can throw up a number of challenges, too, chief among them breaking the news to your adult children whose childhood memories are often wrapped up in the family home. You may need to do it gently.

The next step is to research the places you want to buy – are potential new homes close to your children, close to where you are now, closer to the city, for example? The size of your next home will be important also. While you no longer want to feel like one or two peas rattling in a box in your current home, you will want to ensure you don’t feel like processed peas in your new place. If you expect children or grandchildren will want to visit, then plan for that scenario.

In today’s property market most people will need to sell their house first before buying another one. If you sell first you will be able to dictate the timescale, and you’ll have access to the funds after you sell. If your house is at the upper end of the market or in a rural location it may take time to sell so factor that in – that dream home may be gone by the time you sell your house.

The next challenges facing downsizers is deciding what they will do with all of the furniture and trinkets they won’t be able to bring to the smaller house. Decluttering before you sell your house can make it easier to photograph for brochures and make it more appealing to potential buyers when they come to view. You can pass on items to family or friends, auction the more valuable stuff and dump the stuff you don’t need.

As daunting as a big move can be, it can offer a fresh outlook to downsizers and new adventures.

This article was first published in The Sunday Times in partnership with Bank of Ireland. Publication of this article is not seen as an endorsement of the content by Bank of Ireland.


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