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The basics of downsizing for retirement

Two yellow wooden chairs in front of a pond

It’s never easy admitting when it’s time to retire. After all, whether you love or loathe the idea of it, choosing to retire will bring with it a catalogue of new changes to think about – from living off a pension to deciding how to spend your newfound freedom.

However, another key area to consider is your living situation. If, for example, you currently live in a large, rural house where you and your family grew up – as difficult as it may be to admit to yourself – it might be time to think about finding somewhere a little smaller to call home.

That said, deciding this for yourself may be one thing but going through the actual process of downsizing can be a lot easier said than done. It’s important, therefore, to think carefully about how to downsize your home effectively, in terms of both your desired location and livelihood.

If you’re feeling a little lost as to how to get started, then don’t worry – we’re here to help. In this article, we will run through how to downsize your home effectively, helping you find your ideal home before you decide to retire. 

Sort your stuff in advance

While you may feel like you want a fresh start in a smaller home, ask yourself whether you really need to move. If you have a lot of stuff, for example, it may prove more worthwhile and cheaper to stay put and simply reinvigorate the current home you live in.

In other words, rather than going through the hassle of packing up and moving somewhere smaller, why not opt to take a simpler approach first? Go through all the stuff you own and literally ‘downsize’ the number of things you have.

Start by going around your home, analyzing all the bulky items and furniture you have. Ask yourself whether you’ll actually need them in post-retirement, or whether they’re simply there to serve a purpose. 

Don’t just throw things away for the sake of moving somewhere smaller either – think about what each individual item means to you and decide for yourself whether it’s something you’d like to hang on to.

Once you know which items are worth keeping, you should then have a much better understanding of how much space you’ll need to live effectively in your future home. At this point, you’ll also then be in a much better position to decide whether downsizing is still a viable option for you or not. If it is, then your search can begin.

Find the right place

If you’ve had enough of your home and are looking for an entirely fresh start, moving to a smaller property is an incredibly popular option for many pre-retirees.

While the process may appear easier said than done, generally the more effort you put into your home search, the more fruitful it will prove to be in the end.

Before you rush into it though, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions. For example, is this going to be your final move? Why are you looking to downsize? And what features would you like your home to have to make your life more manageable moving forward?

Knowing the answers to these questions will ultimately make your decision to move a lot easier, as you’ll then be able to discount any homes which don’t fit your exact requirements

If you’d like a small garden to tend to, for instance, then make that part of your search. Alternatively, if you’d rather have a home that’s easier to maintain, then look for homes which are newer and in better condition. 

Now is the time to think about what you really want to have available to you whenever you decide to call it a day.

Utilize technological advances

Downsizing your home is all about making it more manageable to live in – keeping you comfortable, stress-free and able to enjoy your retirement in the best way possible. To ensure this happens for you, technology can be your best friend.

Whether you decide to invest in a robot vacuum cleaner capable of cleaning your floors automatically or download an all-in-one retirement planning app which makes it easier to keep organised both before and after you retire, there are a number of gadgets, apps and devices now available, solely designed to make your life more straightforward.

A piece of unique metal fabric from the technology company SmartLouvre, for instance, has been designed to make post-retirement life even easier – especially if you’re looking to buy a home in need of renovation

Known as MicroLouvre™ unimetal fabric, this material has an innovative ability to bend into various forms, meaning it can be used to not only add a slice of privacy to your home but – thanks to its unique technological structure – improve your home’s level of fire protection at the same time.

Final thoughts

Choosing to downsize for your retirement is a big decision. While on the face of it it may seem fairly overwhelming, by taking the time to organise yourself in advance, the process can actually prove incredibly worthwhile.

The key thing to remember is that it will be you who will be living there, so only you can decide, firstly, whether downsizing is even a sensible option for your circumstances. And, secondly, how and where you’d like to spend your post-working life freedom.

Once you have considered and know the answers to these two questions, you will then be in the ideal position to source the smaller retirement home you’ve been dreaming about all this time.

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Lucy Cromwell

Lucy Cromwell is a Property Management Specialist looking to develop her career and expand her knowledge in all things real estate, home improvement and property management. Feel free to connect with Lucy on Twitter @LucyCromwell7