Planning to downsize? Here’s how to get started

As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, downsizing is on everyone’s mind. While it can be difficult to say goodbye to the family home, finding somewhere more compact to live means no lawns to take care of, better security and far less vacuuming!

A smaller home is much easier to ‘lock up and leave’. This means it is easier to head off on a holiday at a moment’s notice.

Downsizers in Thornleigh and Sydney’s Northern Districts are finding themselves spoilt for choice at the moment. Developers have done their research and recognise that this demographic is active and mobile. In response, they are focused on creating apartment blocks and retirement villages that include swimming pools, secure parking, generous courtyards and balconies, plus common areas and even playgrounds for the grandkids.

For many people approaching retirement age, making the decision to sell can be the hardest part. Once you have done so, give yourself some time to be well-prepared. Here are some things you should consider doing before you downsize.

Review your finances

Talk to your financial advisor about your assets and how much you will need to live comfortably in retirement. It also makes sense to have an in-depth discussion with your property agent about the value of your home. Scott Pape, of Barefoot Investor fame, breaks down a straightforward retirement game plan that is worth a look, whatever your situation.

Fortunately for sellers, family-sized homes in the northern districts remain in high demand, with many eager buyers waiting impatiently for that perfect property to come up. This means you are likely to have fewer days on the market than other areas, as your home will look more attractive to buyers.

Shop around

Before you downsize, it doesn’t hurt to get an idea of what’s out there. Talk to retirement villages and view plans for new blocks going up in your area. Have a budget in mind and take a look at what you will get for your money.

Think of a wish list for your new pad. This may include proximity to shops and cafes, a view or additional storage space for the belongings you can’t bear to part with.

It can make sense to negotiate a longer settlement period when you sell, which will give you time to find your next home without feeling rushed.

Get your home sale ready

There are some buyers who are happy to renovate. But they will be looking to pay a lower price in exchange for taking on a property with a sagging verandah, peeling paint and a kitchen from the 1980s.

It makes sense to invest a small amount of money into updating your home before you list it on the market. Areas to focus on include kitchens, bathrooms and the front of the property. Add a coat of paint, lay fresh carpet and give the building itself a pressure clean to give the right first impression. Your investment will increase competition between buyers. This can pay off to the tune of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A building and pest inspection can also come in handy. Call in the experts to confirm your property is safe and termite free, and pass this report on to prospective buyers.

Finally (and this can be the hard part), it is time to bite the bullet and go through your belongings. You will probably be surprised at how many things you own which you have no emotional attachment to. These can be sold, donated or thrown away. If you are really struggling to make decisions about what to keep, consider calling in an expert decluttering service. They will make the job far less stressful.

Community-based movements aimed at keeping unwanted belongings out of landfill are also great when you are moving. Check out your local Buy Nothing group or sign up to the annual Garage Sale Trail, held every October.

Downsizing in the Northern Districts: Now’s the time

I have worked with many couples as they have downsized. In following up with them after a few months I find they almost always say the same thing — “We wish we had done this years ago!”. Instead of missing their large family property, they are embracing their convenient new lifestyle. Many have quickly made new friends and because they achieved such a great price for their Thornleigh home they have been able to afford a spacious apartment or townhouse with room for guests.

Downsizing can be an emotional process but it makes sense to do it when you want to, rather than when you need to. This gives you plenty of time and the flexibility to consider your options and find the ideal property for the next phase of your life.


Karen Page
Friendly, caring and attentive, Karen Page is a customer focused professional with a genuine passion for helping people transition through the different stages of their life.