When children fly the nest, family homes can begin to feel very empty. They are, however, often full of equity. This can easily end up in the hands of HMRC unless parents are very careful. For these reasons, and many more, downsizing can be a very attractive option. With that in mind, here is a quick guide on how to downsize without stress.
Make sure downsizing is the right option for you
Downsizing should be something you do because you want to, not because you think you ought to. It’s the right option for a lot of people. It is not, however, the only option. For example, equity release might let you stay in your own home while lowering your Inheritance Tax bill.
Give yourself time to find the right property
If you’re thinking of moving to a new area, give yourself plenty of time to get to know it before you commit. Remember that living in a place is very different from being there as a tourist. Make sure you try it out in different seasons. If you can only manage short breaks, try to go both at weekends and mid-week.
Then think about what sort of property will suit you both now and going into the future. Essentially, you need to find somewhere which is both small enough for you to maintain easily and large enough for you to have the lifestyle you want. This is probably going to involve having space for people to stay over. You may also want an office/craft-room.
If you’re fully retiring, then it may be perfectly feasible to pack a lot of functionality into each room. For example, putting a sofa bed and some extra storage into your office lets you turn it into a guest bedroom. If, however, you’re planning on continuing to work, at least to some extent, then you may want, or need, to keep your office purely as an office.
Get the property ready before you move into it
As a minimum, try to have all your utilities connected before you move. In other words, make sure you have internet as well as gas/electricity and water. Ideally, have all your major pieces of furniture and appliances in place and connected before you move yourself and your personal possessions.
If you can’t do this, then make absolutely sure you have an accurate floor plan for your new home. This is essential for accurately working out what can physically go where. It’s even better if you can get clear photos and/or video of your new home. This can help you to get an idea of whether or not your current furniture will look appropriate in it.
Use full-service home-movers
Even if you’ve done every other home yourself, or at least done your own packing, consider using full-service home-movers for this move. Use the extra cost as additional motivation to curate your possessions effectively.
Put your possessions in order
This can be the hardest part of a downsize but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, you don’t need to put yourself up against a strict deadline. You can give yourself a bit of breathing space. For example, you could move your belongings into storage and then go through them at your own pace. Of course, there would be a cost to this, but, again, this could act as motivation.
There are various ways to approach downsizing your possessions. In your later years, one very effective strategy is to move from your least sentimental items to your most sentimental items. This often means that you start by making some easy wins. These clear out space (mentally and physically) so you can focus on more important items.
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