Common mistakes people make when downsizing

Dec 11, 2019
Before you take the leap into downsizing, spend some time considering your options to avoid regret. Source: Getty

So, you’ve decided that it’s time to downsize and move out of the family home that has felt empty for years. Before you reach for the packing boxes and book the removalists, there are a few things to consider. Learn from other people’s mistakes and avoid jumping into your downsizing journey before the time is right.

Making the leap too quickly

While you might be eager to put your family home on the market and move into a smaller home as soon as your kids have left the nest, there are a few things to consider first. Is this the right move for you at this time? Is the market strong, or will you lose lots of money if you sell your property now? Make sure you’ve thought about your decision in depth, otherwise it’s likely that you’ll wind up regretting the decision down the track and wishing you’d never moved to that retirement village or interstate.

Accepting a low offer

Even if the time is right for you to move into something smaller, it’s important not to take the first offer that comes your way. Have your home evaluated by a professional and get serious about what figure you need for it to be a successful sale that will set you up in retirement. Even if you’re in the position of having your mortgage paid off, that doesn’t mean you should walk away with an offer that’s less than you deserve.

Underestimating the cost of selling

Sure, you might be in a position to put your house up for sale, but have you taken into consideration how costly it can be to sell? Aside from real estate agent’s fees and advertising spend, there’s also the cost of having your home professionally cleaned, removalists fees (for when it’s time to move) and the cost of any repairs that might be necessary before listing it – touching up the paint job, repairing holes or replacing old carpets or doors. This can all add up and should be accounted for before you decide if you’re ready to sell.

Not trying before you buy

While you can’t move into a home or retirement village for a couple of weeks to decide if it’s the right buy for you, you can certainly go and spend some time in the area and get a feel for what life would be like if you moved there. Most residential communities offer open days or you can register for a tour of the property so you can really get a feel for the community. If you’re just thinking about moving to a new suburb, spend some time in the area – check out the restaurants and cafes, go for a walk and see if you like the ‘feel’ of the street or meet your potential new neighbours.

Getting rid of valuables too quickly

The excitement of realising your downsizing dreams can be all-consuming, but try to resist the urge to get rid of everything too quickly. Spend some time considering if now’s a good time part with valuables or if you’ll come to regret the decision as time goes by.

Doing everything yourself

Doing everything by yourself is a sure-fire way to burn out. Instead, get your family and friends on board to help declutter your home or outsource things like cleaning the carpets and giving the home a final, proper clean. You can find bond cleaners available for a reasonable price and you know they’ll do a thorough job.

Not measuring your new space before buying or moving furniture

Moving to a new home is exciting, especially when you consider how you’re going to style it. Rather than rushing in and spending your money on new furniture, make sure you’ve measured the new spaces first. There’s nothing worse than discovering out the sofa you picked out doesn’t fit in your new lounge room.

Moving away from loved ones

Many people have a long-help dream of moving to the beach when they retire. And while the allure of long walks along the beach every morning might be hard to ignore, if the move involves relocating far away from family and loved ones, you could quickly come to regret the decision. Consider if your quality of life will be affected if you’re no longer a short drive from your children or what you could do to adjust your dream. Is there a closer beach that would make the move easier? Of course, if you do choose to move far away, make sure you have space for visitors to stay to encourage your loved ones to visit more.

Not finding out if you can age in place

Lots of people want to continue living in their own home as they age, rather than moving into a nursing home, so it’s important to consider whether or not your new home will allow you to age in place. If your home has stairs, it might not serve you well as you age. The same goes for whether there are wide hallways if you require a wheelchair. If you’re moving into a retirement village, is there complimentary care available?

Waiting too long

Just like rushing in can have serious consequences, waiting too long to downsize can also be detrimental. Whether it’s not selling while the market is in a good position, or if you’re too frail or unwell to enjoy the transition, it’s important to get the timing right.

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What mistakes did you make during your downsizing journey? Do you have any advice for others looking to make the move?

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