Once you’ve made the decision to move to a retirement village, it’s time to prepare for the move. While it can be daunting to leave your family home, downsizing isn't about squeezing into a smaller place. It's about 'right-sizing' your home for the next chapter in life.
Whether you call it downsizing, smart-sizing or right-sizing, these 10 tips will help make your move easier.
Think carefully about where you want to move. It could be the last move you make, and you might be there for 20 or 30 years. Do you want to stay in your community? Move closer to grandchildren? Or head somewhere more relaxed near the ocean? Ask yourselves these questions until you're sure about where you want to go.
Moving will be overwhelming and emotional at times, but you can take the sting out of things by creating a plan and taking your time to achieve it. Make lots of lists. Take it one room at a time and allow yourself 6 months at least. Don't try and solve everything in one day. Tackle the jobs in manageable chunks from your well-documented strategy.
Downsizing means having fewer possessions, so you need to decide what to do with the things you don't want to take to your new home. Think about giving special items to friends or relatives. (But don’t be upset if they politely decline.) Sell things of value online or via garage sales if you no longer want them. And give some things to charity so others can make use of them.
Unless you have strong offspring who can help out, you'll probably need to hire removalists. If you need help with anything else, you can hire people to help with planning, packing, and disposing of possessions. It depends on your budget, time constraints and how much you can (or want) to do yourself. Getting help from professionals won’t have the emotional connection that could cloud the judgement of friends and family.
Like anyone selling a house, you want to get the best possible price. Some work upfront can reap major rewards, even if it feels inconvenient and unnecessary on a house you're leaving. At the very least, get the gardener in, get the windows cleaned and do any chores you've neglected. Then do a decent clean before prospective buyers view the place. A little effort can go a long way.
Make sure a budget is part of your planning. What price are you really going to get for your home? How much is the retirement property you're moving to? What moving costs are there? Make sure you have everything covered so you don’t find yourself in a difficult position during or after the move. If you’re not confident with budgeting, consider asking friends who’ve already made the move to help.
There might be incentives and tax benefits for downsizing that you’re not aware of. Certain ways to diminish your tax and boost your superannuation. Do your research and find out if there are any policies that can help you. Talk to your accountant and seek professional financial advice.
One of our favourite tips is to take pictures of all your big old pieces of furniture that you're selling. You can turn the pictures into a hardcover photography book to keep on your coffee table. It's a great way to keep memories alive as you move to a smaller and more stylish home.
If budget allows, treat yourself to new furniture or homewares as part of the move. Just moving half your old things to a smaller place might seem slightly depressing. You can pep things up with some modern lamps, pieces of art or a new sofa. Blend old and new furniture to create a stylish new home.
One thing we hear most from downsizers is, ‘We wish we'd done it sooner!’ People rarely have regrets about making the move. But the longer you leave it, the more stressful it can become. Moving at your leisure in your 60s carries an element of stress, so trying to move quickly in your 80s will be even harder. The sooner you make the move, the sooner you’ll be enjoying life in a new place with a vibrant and welcoming community.
For more information about the lifestyle and support offered at our retirement villages, call our customer service team on 1800 550 550.
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