Downsizing Your Life: A Step-by-Step Primer for Simplifying Your Lifestyle - Blog - Saving Advice Articles
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Downsizing Your Life: A Step-by-Step Primer for Simplifying Your Lifestyle

By , October 3rd, 2016 | One Comment


It can happen quite suddenly. Your grandchild asks innocently, ‘Why have you got so much stuff?’ You look at your council tax bill and think, ‘I don’t need to be paying all this.’ You see a news item about refugees and feel suddenly guilty. Whatever the trigger, a time may well come when you begin to think about downsizing.

Why Downsize?

The first thing to do when considering a downsize is to ask yourself, ‘Why do I want to do this?

The most common reason for moving to somewhere smaller is probably the effect of age. Someone in their 80s living alone in a huge family house, with a flight of steps up to the front door and steep stairs inside, may well feel that they cannot cope with the physical strains much longer and want to move while they still can.

The next most common reason is probably the financial advantage of a smaller house. Those who are ‘asset rich but cash poor’ can potentially get a substantial cash benefit from selling an expensive property and buying a cheaper one. Smaller properties are also (usually) cheaper to run than large ones – council tax, maintenance and utilities will generally be proportionately less.

Of course, there are many other more personal reasons why anyone might want to downsize.

What Sort of Home?

The reason for moving will govern the type of property to look for.

Someone who is no longer able to look after a big family home might just want somewhere similar but smaller, but may also want to consider moving into a purpose-built retirement property. Many of these have been built in recent decades, and the industry is now well practiced in providing the sort of accommodation that people are looking for, with plenty of space, a range of communal services, and pleasant locations.

Others will be in a position to move into a ‘granny annex’ in a property owned by one of their children. This is an ideal solution for many but there are emotional and legal issues that need to be addressed.

People wanting to save money may be considering replacing a house with a flat. They should make sure that they are well aware of the different pressures of living in a leasehold property. They may consider renting as a way to make the most of their capital, especially if they do not plan to leave a large estate.

Choosing a Future

Having weighed up the pros and cons of different downsizing choices, you will then have to go about the business of choosing where to live. There are innumerable factors to take into account. For instance, non-drivers with mobility issues may need to avoid hilly streets, while someone for whom theatre and arts are vital will be looking for access to a city life.

Property prices vary enormously from one region to another, so research carefully before deciding. Estate agent Taylors information about many different areas of the country would be a valuable source of local guidance about the housing market.

What to Keep, What to Take?

Finally there is the issue of what to do with all that stuff. If getting rid of stuff is the reason for downsizing, this should be a liberating experience. But for many people possessions represent cherished memories and their vital sense of identity.

Furniture is the biggest thing, of course. It can be difficult to know what will fit best into the new home until after you have moved. Some agents advise that the best plan, if affordable, is to move most furniture into storage and then bring it into the new place when you discover that it is indispensible.

Downsizing can be a great opportunity to go through all those documents which accumulate over the years. This is something best done when you are not under stress, so put the documents where they will remind you of what you need to do.

Valuables can sit around doing nothing for years on end. Apart from those that have sentimental value, there may be a lot to say for disposing of them either by sale or as gifts. Make sure that they are properly valued by an independent person before selling.

It’s Your Choice

For many, downsizing is depressing reminder of the passage of the years. For others, it is a liberating opportunity to break through into a whole new stage of life. Much will depend on the support of family and friends, but in the end it is a personal decision that can give a new sense of control over events.

Isobel Quinn has moved regularly throughout her entire life, growing up as an army brat and finding it difficult to settle in just 1 place as an adult when there’s the whole world to explore! She writes about staying sane on moving day, clearing clutter and downsizing.

Photo: Teresa Alexander-Arab

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  • Mary Simmons says:

    Simplifying your life is very challenging. However gradually changing the way you live works wonders if you are willing.


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