Smart ways to ‘try before you buy’ when it comes to downsizing

Oct 09, 2019
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If you're worried about whether downsizing is the right choice for you, there are some easy ways that you can get a taste of the lifestyle before you commit. Source: Getty.

Your family home no doubt holds decades of precious memories, from birthdays and Christmases, to weddings, christenings and even funerals, so it’s understandable that you might have some apprehension about selling up and downsizing. If you’re considering doing just that though, there are some simply ways you can ‘try before you buy’, allowing you to be absolutely certain that you are making the right decision.

Many older Aussies decide to swap in their large family property for a rented apartment, retirement village unit or a home in a lifestyle community in retirement, while others make more radical sea or tree changes. But if you’re still on the fence about whether it’s the right choice for you, why not consider a trial period before you list your home for sale and start the ball rolling.

So, what are your options?

Try renting first

One of the easiest ways to get a taste of the downsizer lifestyle before you make the leap and buy a smaller property is to try renting first.

However there are some downsides to renting first as you will have to move home twice, which could be both costly and time consuming. Think about whether you can be bothered with the hassle of moving all of your furniture twice, as fully furnished rental properties are few and far between in Australia. The emotional and physical toll of moving house are also worth considering, as well as how much help you may have from friends and family.

There’s also the financial side to think about as renting in Australia can be pricey. This may not be such an issue if you sell your family home before you move into a rental property, however if you’re not sure that downsizing is for you, you may wish to rent in a new area whilst still holding on to your family home which may cause a your outgoings to rise significantly.

Try out a retirement village

Moving to a retirement village can be a big adjustment as you adapt to living on your own, with perhaps a spouse or partner for company, to living among like-minded people in a bustling community.

Some villages across the country do offer no obligation ‘try before you buy’ options to prospective residents, so if you have found a particular village you’re interested in, why not pop in or call the manager to ask whether a trial period may be possible. This can often be arranged for a small fee, and you may even be able to try out the exact style – or even exact apartment – you are considering.

A trial period also gives you chance to get to know the people who could become your new neighbours, as well as sampling the on-site activities and amenities. If you’re struggling to make the leap, this could be a great option before you commit to buying a retirement village unit or sign any contracts. After all, you wouldn’t buy a new car without taking it for a test drive first!

Test out the suburb

If you are one of many Aussie retirees who dream of making a sea or tree change after giving up work, then this is particularly important as you need to make sure you are going to like your new surroundings before committing to the move.

Why not spend some time in the area leading up to retirement, either on short holidays, weekend breaks or even rent a property in the area for a few weeks or months. That way you can get a taste of what your life would be like if you did move there and give you time to test out the local amenities and identify any issues or shortcomings with your potential new suburb.

Think of all the things you enjoy doing now, would you still be able to do your hobbies in the new area? How about local cafes, are there plenty of options? Do they get too busy? And, if you have grandkids, are there any nice parks nearby where you can spend quality time with them? Even visiting the area at different times of day can help you get a real feeling of what it might be like to live there.

Are you thinking about downsizing? Or have you already made the leap?

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