Retirement: do you really want to downsize?

For many people, retirement is the time to downsize from the family home to a smaller dwelling. It’s a big decision so before you take the plunge, first ask yourself these six questions to ensure you make an informed choice.

1. How much will I save moving to a smaller home?

A big reason to downsize is to save money, but you might not always save as much as you think when you really drill down into the costs. Carefully compare the costs of your potential new dwelling with how much you’re spending now. Consider everything including the price of the house, maintenance, utilities, transport, entertainment and food.

2. Will the new neighbourhood fit my lifestyle needs?

When people retire their needs change; they no longer need to live in an area close to work or near good schools, for example. With this new change, you will have to work out what your new needs might be, and take that into consideration when looking for a place. Downsizing isn’t just about the house but the type of neighbourhood you want to live in.

3. How much longer will I be able to maintain my current home?

As you age, you might find that you’re not able to maintain a big house with a big garden as well as you once did. If those little maintenance projects are taking much longer than usual, it could be time to downsize. A house takes very little time to fall into disrepair, which means the property loses vales. It’s a smart idea to sell a house when you are able to make it looks its best

4. What will I bring with me and what will I lose?

The reality of a smaller place is that there will be less space to put your things. For many people, the hardest part of downsizing is decluttering, so do the mental preparation of deciding what you’re going to bin (or give to charities) before you actually move – otherwise you might end up bringing too much with you. You will have to make some tough, sometimes emotional, decisions but don’t let your “things” hold you back from moving forward.

5. How is your health and your partner’s health?

It’s always best to move when you’re fit and able rather than being forced to by circumstances later down the track. And even though you’re healthy now, you need to consider your future health needs when deciding on a new home. Will you always be able to navigate the stairs or mow the lawn? Is the place close to medical care? Is the neighbourhood senior-friendly? These are just a few questions to think through.

6. How close will family and friends be?

As people age, it’s common for social circles to shrink so in retirement, it’s more important than ever to keep socially active. Therefore, it’s crucial to factor in social connections and activities into your move. How close will family and friends be from your new place? Does your new neighbourhood have activities for retirees? Are there opportunities to make new friends and discover new activities? While retirement planning mostly focuses on finances, your emotional and social needs are just as important and should be carefully considered.