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2022-07-01 Community & Lifestyle

Our complete guide to downsizing your home

For most homeowners, at some point, there comes a time when they start to weigh up just how big their home really needs to be.

The awakening, whether sudden or gradual, may have Gen Xs and baby boomers questioning whether the maintenance of that lush green yard is a necessity, or if there is a need for the plethora of empty rooms once the kids have flown the coop?

Whether you're moving into your ‘twilight years’, already retired, an empty nester, or just looking to declutter and simplify your life, downsizing can have many benefits.

To make a well-considered decision, it’s important to take the time to thoroughly research a property and location to make sure it’s going to suit your needs now and in the future. To help you get the ball rolling, we’ve collated some thought-starters.

Cost saver

At the end of the day, most property decisions are fuelled by finances, and downsizing to a smaller property can be a strategic money saver.

Selling a big family home for a smaller, less costly abode is bound to put a few more beans in your back pocket, particularly for asset rich and cash poor retirees. But it’s worthwhile seeking some financial advice so you’re aware of any potential curveballs before you jump headfirst into the process.

The chances are if you’ve been in your home a while, it’s likely to have enjoyed some growth in value and you may be close to paying off your mortgage or have paid it off altogether. If that’s the case, buying a more compact, affordable property will give you a good deal of equity, which could be a welcome boost to your retirement nest egg.

Having a home with a smaller footprint could also mean reduced utility bills and council rates.

And investing in sustainable options like solar power and energy efficient inclusions, particularly if you build a new home, will also help reduce your day-to-day operating expenses.

Low maintenance

Imagine a life where your weekends are not spent fixing bits and bobs around the house and taking care of a large garden.

Opting for a new home in one of Satterley’s masterplanned communities means you can curate the property with as many low maintenance options as you want. This includes synthetic turf, hardwearing floor coverings and alfresco paving instead of a timber deck to help minimise potential upkeep in the years to come.

Less is more

As the saying goes: a clear space leads to a clear mind, so use the opportunity to downsize as an opportunity to declutter too.

Moving into a smaller home will inevitably mean streamlining your personal possessions, so it’s a good idea to start this process early as it’s sometimes surprising how much ‘stuff’ you might have accumulated over the years.

This will have a dual benefit. When it comes to preparing your home for sale, it will be a simpler process to minimise the personal effects you have on display. Prospective buyers are likely to be overwhelmed by overflowing shelves and clutter so give them an opportunity to envision themselves living in your home.

Location, location, location

When exploring downsizing options, it can be tempting to opt for a home close to your current location, particularly if you’ve spent a good proportion of your life in the neighbourhood.

But it’s important to consider what your desired lifestyle will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years’ time. Do you envision being close to the coast and taking morning walks along the beach? Perhaps you’re dreaming of a tree change, where you can live immersed in nature and wake up to the sounds of the native wildlife.

Satterley has 30 active communities designed to suit a range of different lifestyles. Satterley’s masterplanned communities are thoughtfully planned to include a range of amenities such as shopping centres, medical facilities, parks, pathways, and transport options. Satterley’s in-house community team are dedicated to making new communities a great place to live through a range of local events, sponsorships, and initiatives designed to provide opportunities for neighbours to connect.

Design decisions

There are many factors to consider when it comes to design, not the least the future impacts of your decision to downsize.

If you’re preparing for your ‘twilight years’ and are looking to downsize, most retirees will opt for an accessible home on a single level or ground floor to avoid having to traverse stairs.

If a double storey property is your dream, it’s a good idea to ensure there is at least one bedroom and a bathroom at ground level in case climbing the stairs or accessibility becomes an issue.

While downsizing will mean a smaller home to maintain, there should still be adequate space to entertain. Social events with friends and family gatherings are important to many downsizers so it’s key to choose a house with large enough entertaining, family and alfresco areas. At least one spare bedroom for when grandchildren sleep over could also be a consideration.

Sustainable and energy efficient design options may also be a worthwhile addition if you’re looking to keep day-to-day running expenses of the home at a minimum.

How to make a smooth transition

Making the choice to downsize could be one of the biggest decisions of your life, particularly when you’re moving from a home with great emotional attachment and memories.

It’s important to take the time to carefully assess your priorities. Thoroughly researching suburbs and new housing estates that suit your lifestyle will help you to make an informed decision that you are 100% happy with.

To assist in your decision to downsize, it’s wise to seek some independent financial advice. This includes, crunching the numbers to ensure the movie is viable, confirming your budget and determining the type of property you would like to downsize to.

Some states also offer government incentives for downsizers, so it’s worth exploring these offerings to get the best bang for your buck.

For example, eligible pensioners in Victoria can receive a one-off duty exemption of concession when they buy a new or established home valued up to $750,000 as a principal place of residence.

In WA, there is a transfer duty rebate for new residential units or apartments in multi-tiered strata developments. Buyers who sign pre-construction contracts before October 24, 2023 may be eligible for a 50 per cent rebate on the transfer duty up to $50,000.

Once you’ve decided downsizing is right for you, start preparing well in advance of your move. You might underestimate the time needed to declutter and streamline the home you are preparing to leave, so giving yourself ample time and creating a checklist will make for a smoother and more enjoyable transition.

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