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    The Pros and Cons of Downsizing Your Home

    By The reallymoving Team Updated 7th May, 2024

    Downsizing to a smaller home can be a real opportunity for those looking to save money, and enjoy the equity freed up from their home sale.

    The Pros and Cons of Downsizing Your Home

    What is downsizing?

    Downsizing is when you buy a smaller home than the one you currently have. This is often a decision made by those who now have an empty nest, are struggling to deal with the upkeep of their home or are finding the related costs hard to deal with.

    It may just be that you are eager for a change, want to simplify your life, want to move closer to friends or family members, or want to start a new phase in life.

    Whilst many people have been trying to upsize throughout their home-buying journey, downsizing can offer so many options!

    Types of property to downsize to

    There are different types of property you might choose to downsize to for a variety. You might want to move to a bungalow for accessibility, switch to living in a flat to reduce your spend on bills and maintenance, or simply downsize to a smaller house now your children have moved out.

    What are the advantages of downsizing?

    There are lots of advantages to downsizing your home.

    Releasing equity

    Firstly, if you’ve been in your current home a while, it’s likely to have increased in value, and you may be near to paying off your mortgage, if not having paid it off completely.

    Buying a smaller, cheaper property will give you a lot of equity left over, to use for whatever you wish. It also means you can buy your new home as a cash buyer, giving you more options, a quicker chain, and the ability to live mortgage free.

    Cheaper bills

    Downsizing to a smaller home means less upkeep, lower bills, and more time to do the things you love. It’s an exercise in saving both money and time.

    Move to a more accessible property

    If you are downsizing in later life, it means you can choose a property that will be better suited to your needs as you get older. Instead of having to contend with your stairs, limited accessibility or a huge garden requiring maintenance, you can pick a property that can work for you.

    Why wouldn’t I downsize?

    Some people have got used to a home of a certain size and space, and perhaps nothing they look at really appeals. It can be hard, after years of aiming for more space to decide to move somewhere smaller. Perhaps everything seems poky, or you can’t imagine how you could ever fit all your items into a smaller property. It’s natural to be resistant.

    There’s no real need to downsize if you’re opposed to the idea, but often it can offer a greater quality of life with the money you make from the sale. If you really don’t want to leave your home, but want access to the value of your property, you could consider equity release.
     
    Property values change over time, which should be great if you’ve had your property for a while. You may find that your property has increased in value, and you should have a lot more to work with when looking for a new home.

    Lack of availability

    Just because you want a smaller place, it doesn’t mean you necessarily want to change your location. You may struggle to find a smaller property in your area or feel that even the smaller homes are too expensive for you to truly benefit from the sale.

    If you want to be in the same neighbourhood, or to be near family, you may find there aren’t many downsizing opportunities.

    Lack of availability for the type of property you are looking for can be another issue. Bungalows, which were once hailed as the best option for those entering later life, or with accessibility issues, are hard to come by now.

    They are in short supply, as they take up a lot more space for one story, compared to the multiple flats that could be bought on the same site.

    As such, appropriate homes can be hard to find.

    Less space and storage

    It can be difficult to downsize if you have been used to having a lot more space. You may need to consider a big clear out or to put some of your belongings into storage.
    If you can’t imagine your items fitting into a smaller space, you may not want to consider downsizing.

    Costs of moving house

    Even if you might be releasing equity when selling your larger property and downsizing, you will still have to consider the costs of moving house and whether this is something you’re willing to pay.

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    What are the costs of downsizing?

    It’s important to consider the cost of downsizing and if it is something that you can afford.

    As with any moving process you must consider not only the costs of buying a house, but also the cost of selling.
    You will have to pay for conveyancing including legal fees and disbursements, removals, a deposit, Stamp Duty, estate agent fees, and mortgage lender fees.

    You should do your research to ensure that you are prepared for any additional costs that can come from the process of moving house.

    When should I downsize my home?

    People downsize for multiple reasons. Whilst for some it may be an empty nest and a house that requires too much upkeep, for others it may be loneliness, divorce, accessibility or the loss of a loved one that prompts the move.

    You can downsize at any point, but it’s worth doing some research into where you want to live, what kind of property you’d be happy with, and being realistic about how much you own.

    Some always intend to downsize but can be shocked by how much stuff they’ve accumulated over the years in their homes.

    From the moment you start considering moving, it’s time to start working out what you want to keep. Anything that can be thrown away or donated, do so before you even put your home on the market. Have a look at our decluttering guide for more information.

    If you’re downsizing due to divorce or a change in your financial circumstances, it can be frustrating to have to contend with a smaller space than you’re used to. Being prepared can make this transition less painful.

    A downsizing checklist

    • Consider your reasons for downsizing? Is it necessary, are you happy about it, or is there another solution?

    • If you’re excited to downsize, consider where you want to live. Do you want to stay in the same area, move to the seaside, or buy a luxurious flat in the centre of town?

    • Look at the type of properties that would work for you, and whether you can afford them. Will you have to make a compromise or is there a lot for you to choose from?

    • Consider whether you want to pay off your mortgage fully before you sell the property.

    • Start throwing things away – donate, give items to family members, and separate out the items that you really love and feel strongly about from those you don’t really need. It’s an opportunity to clear everything and save yourself money when you pay for removals.

    • Prepare your home for selling – have a look at our guide to selling your home.

    • Start viewing properties and look at our viewing home checklist if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

    Downsizing can be fraught for some who aren’t looking forward to change, or have become accustomed to their home, but there are so many advantages and opportunities.

    From the chance to save on bills, make household tasks more manageable to the new décor and opportunities of a new area, downsizing can be incredibly exciting.

    Plus, if you buy a cheaper property than the one you sold, that extra money can go a long way to helping you enjoy life in your new home!

    Downsizing your home FAQs

    What should I get rid of first when downsizing? 

    You should organise your belongings into items you know you won’t use or don’t need any more and items that you know you will not want to get rid of. This can help you decide which items to get rid of first.

    At what age do most people downsize their home? 

    There is no real set age that people might choose to downsize their home. There are many reasons that someone might consider moving to somewhere smaller and it does not necessarily have anything to do with their age.

    Are smaller houses less expensive? 

    In some instances, moving to a smaller property can help save money on upkeep and bills. However, this can depend on the type of property you move to, and the area you are in and where you are moving from.


    Updated May 2024

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