Downsizing is what happens when the kids have moved out and, hopefully, taking the pets they grew up with, leaving you free to travel and do all the things you couldn’t do because you had kids. But downsizing comes with a whole set of new challenges. We look at those with Jodie Walker from Secret Agent.
Kevin: We have an aging population, and of course, with more people choosing to live in units, downsizing becomes a bit of a reality. Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? The kids are off your hands, they’ve moved out, they’re making their own lives, and now it’s time for you to live. One of those choices is getting rid of the big house and maybe moving to an apartment. But downsizing isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are a number of challenges.
Jodie Walker joins me from Secret Agent.
Jodie, you’ve prepared a report on this. Tell us about some of the things that people are going to face when they make this decision to downsize.
Jodie: Downsizing itself seems like a simple task, but it’s actually quite complicated. There are a lot of hurdles that they’re going to face. I think one of the biggest hurdles is being able to fully commit to the idea and let go of any emotional attachments that you may have to the memories that you’ve created over the years.
If you’ve raised a family in there, you may be very attached to the residence, and you’re probably also quite attached to the friends, family, and networks that you’ve built up in the area. Letting go of all of this can be quite difficult.
Kevin: Yes, that final one you mentioned there about family and friends in the area, you could always choose to live in the same area and still keep those connections, though, couldn’t you?
Jodie: You could, but I guess I’m speaking about people who are moving from the outer suburbs on a large block of land and they’re moving into the inner city, which is a trend that happens alongside downsizing. People want to live where the amenity is and where there’s good access to transport and cafés, and that tends to be in the inner city.
Kevin: I always think it’s a good idea if you decide to downsize to maybe go and rent somewhere first to see if you really like it before you commit to buying something. I’ve seen a lot of people, Jodie, over the years sell that big house on the big block of land, move to an apartment, and then find six months down the track that they really need that bit more space and they weren’t quite ready for it.
Jodie: Yes, exactly. We highly recommend the same thing – spending a few weekends in the suburb that you’re thinking about renting in, because each suburb has its own culture and own demographics, so you really want to make sure that it suits your personality and what you value and the lifestyle that you want to create for yourself. So if you can’t rent, then stay in the suburb in a hotel for a few days to just really experience it.
Kevin: Yes, you could have a holiday there. Let’s talk about some of the things we can do while we’re still living at home in the home that we choose to, to prepare ourselves – like making a list about the things that I like and even doing a bit of de-cluttering. Tell us about some of the things we can do there.
Jodie: De-cluttering is super important. Obviously, storage space is one of the biggest things you’re going to lose when you downsize. With de-cluttering, I would highly recommend to be analytical and not emotional. Ask yourself “Do I use this?” not “Will I use it?” because as soon as you ask “Will I use it?” it’s easy to start imagining when you’re likely to use it in the future, but the truth is if you haven’t used it in the last month, you’re probably not going to. It’s just about being organized, starting early, and tackling one room at a time so that it’s not so daunting.
Kevin: It’s just occurred to me, Jodie, that a good exercise would be if you decide to downsize – you don’t make that decision overnight; you might do, but most people don’t – you could prepare yourself for it by doing a little bit of de-cluttering and starting to get rid of some of that stuff, but do it over a long period of time.
Jodie: Yes, exactly. So just prepare yourself mentally and physically, as well, over a longer period so that it’s a lot easier when you actually do move.
Kevin: I was interested to read in your article, too, that you highlighted the need to make sure that you buy quality. Tell me about that and why is that so important?
Jodie: One of the benefits to downsizing is having less space to clean and maintain. If you buy something that’s low quality, it’s more likely that you’re forever going to be needing to repair or replace things, and that negates the initial benefit. You’re already getting used to less space; you don’t really want to have to get used to a lower quality house, as well.
Kevin: Yes. When we’re downsizing, what are some of the important things to bear in mind – like car parking, maybe the second bedroom or even a big balcony? I mentioned the big balcony, Jodie, because I think a lot of people like to continue to maybe get their hands in a bit of dirt, so you could do a little bit of indoor gardening, couldn’t you?
Jodie: Yes. Outdoor space is very important. I think you definitely want to make sure it has outdoor space, a good outlook if it is an apartment, and natural light, obviously. And you want to be really careful with the car parking because I think a lot of people get shocked by that. They’re used to having excess car space available and it’s especially important not just for yourself but your friends and family who come and visit you to be able to find a park close by as well.
Kevin: Another frustration, I think, for people moving is to make sure that you have plenty of storage in that garage, and it just occurred to me then when you’re looking at your car park, see if you can get an area to put a little bit of storage – whether that’s bikes or maybe some exercise gear that you might not be able to fit into your apartment. Those things are pretty important, too, Jodie, aren’t they?
Jodie: Yes. A lot of apartments nowadays come with a car space and a storage cage, or they might come with two car spaces. But you want to also be careful then about the owners corp rules because usually they govern what you can do with the car space. We’ve had a few people who have purchased an apartment with two car spaces and then were not allowed to put a storage cage into that. So you just want to be really careful.
Kevin: Yes, body corporates are a whole different frustration that we don’t have time to talk about today. Jodie, it’s been great catching up with you. Thank you for your time.
Jodie Walker is from Secret Agent, and some of the secrets there of downsizing. Thanks for your time, Jodie.
Jodie: Thanks, Kevin.