Moving to a smaller property may sound appealing, particularly if your children have left home or you’re concerned about the upkeep of a large house.

According to a recent poll by the Nationwide, more than a third (36%) of over-55s plan to downsize in retirement. For more than half of them (56%) this is because they believe that a smaller property would be easier to manage as they get older.

There are plenty of other reasons to downsize your home. Maybe you have health or mobility issues that would benefit from a different style of property. Perhaps you’d like a cheaper home to free up some of your capital to spend in your retirement or help a child onto the housing ladder. For some people it’s just about scaling down their life with a smaller home and fewer possessions.

Whatever the motives behind your choice, there are a few things to think about before you decide to downsize:

1. Is yours really an empty nest?

While your children may have left home, think about whether they’ve done so for good. Research shows that high house prices and rental costs mean record numbers of adult children aged 20-34 are choosing to live with their parents – a 46% increase in 20 years according to the Office for National Statistics. Is there a chance your children might seek to return to the family home – and if they did, would you have the space?

Remember too that leaving the house you have been living in for many years is going to be an emotional experience – for you and family members. Make sure you are all ready for this by talking openly about your decision.

2. Have you thought about location?

Sit down and carefully work out what you are looking for in your new home. Do you want a rural retreat or to be close to all the amenities of a large town or city? Do you want to move closer to family or friends? What would happen if they decided to move on?

Don’t just think about the here and now but the future – if you think this will be your long-term home. Will transport links be good enough to get your around and will it have the facilities you need. Make sure you do plenty of research and spend as much time as you can in your desired location.

Think about the type of home you want to move to. Will a two-bedroom apartment suit your future lifestyle, or are you just looking for a smaller house than you have now? Does your preferred area have enough of this type of housing?

3. Are you prepared for a big declutter?

It’s time to embrace your inner Marie Kondo and really pare down your possessions ready for the move. If this feels impossible, downsizing may not be right for you just yet.

If you haven’t decluttered much recently, you’ll need to sort through years of personal possessions and be quite ruthless. A good proportion of your furniture will probably have to go too. You should allow yourself a few weeks to do this – don’t leave it until the last minute.

4. Should you sell before buying?

This is a difficult one. The general consensus is to sell first. Otherwise, if you find your dream home, you may be put under pressure to drop your selling price to make sure you do not lose it. However, market conditions may dictate what you do, so it would be a good idea to get professional advice.

If you have the cash, you could buy first then put your property on the market. If you do this you will need to pay the stamp duty second homes surcharge – an additional 3%, however, you can claim this back if your first home sells within three years.

5. Is a retirement property right for you?

Retirement complexes, aimed at the over-55s, may be a good option if you’re thinking to the future and don’t have family close by. Some schemes offer ‘assisted living’ or ‘extra care’ accommodation with additional services such as on-site cafes, cleaners and optional carers. These can be a good alternative to residential care if you have health needs.

However, think carefully and do your research before opting for a retirement place. Flats can be very small and service charges high, plus not everyone adapts well to this type of living.

What about Wimbledon?

If you want access to more green space, while being in easy reach of the facilities in a town, Wimbledon might be the place. With homes of all sizes, plus a choice of apartments in stunning new developments, there are many options for downsizers.

Call us now for advice and help finding your perfect property.

About the author

Nicolas Holmes

Nick joined Robert Holmes to inject fresh ideas and help grow the New Homes department of Robert Holmes as well as helping to inject technology into the business and to grow its client base. Together with one of the Directors Nick is in charge of all Development opportunities that Robert Holmes deals with along with sales. Aged 40, he provides succession together with the two existing directors. Nick has always been focused on building client relationships and sales. He built up his own gallery in Chelsea, where he had a loyal following of customers and artists.

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