As the UK faces a housing crisis, this could be helped if more retirees downsized into a home suited to their needs says Nick Freeth, Managing Director of Retirement Homesearch, part of FirstPort the UK’s largest specialist retirement property agents

The first step to downsizing your family home, however, is to get the emotions right. Look upon "downsizing" as an exciting opportunity, a beginning to a new phase of your life, not a negative one.  Moving to a smaller, easier to maintain property will not only free up your time, but also has many positive financial impacts.  

When it comes to downsizing, don’t try to do everything on your own. For many people, part of the decision to downsize is motivated by a desire not to be a burden on friends and family. That is fine, but this is one occasion when you are entirely justified in seeking the assistance of others, after all, moving house can be one of the most stressful events and no one should do it alone. However, if you are uncomfortable with asking members of your friends and families, know that there are specialist individuals and firms who can help, if you would rather pay. 

For those worried that "downsizing" to a smaller property (maybe one bedroom) may prevent family and friends coming to visit, it’s worth bearing in mind many developments have Guest Suites for visitors to stay overnight.

Also, if you are moving to a "retirement" development there may well be a social aspect to living there. Engage with it, don’t isolate yourself and be lonely. Embrace your new surroundings and make the most of the facilities in your area.

Here are some practical tips to help smooth the move:

  1. Plan, plan and then plan again. One aspect of downsizing is deciding what to take. Don’t leave this to the last minute. It’s a great opportunity to pass cherished but too large or no longer needed items on to friends and family (but don’t be offended if they say “no thanks”
  2. If you’re not sure whether something is for keeping, consider renting/borrowing some short term storage. Then you can move and better assess if something is “indispensable” and retrieve it
  3. Sort out utilities etc. well in advance. New phone lines, broadband etc. can sometimes take weeks to sort out
  4. Check that any furniture you’re planning to take with you will fit in your new home
  5. It’s good to get to know your new home and neighbours before you move. Visit the development a few times and if there’s an onsite manager (sometimes called a House, Development or Lodge Manager) get to know them and ask if they could make a few introductions for you

Downsizing is a practical endeavour with huge emotional impact and potential benefits. Get it right and you could give yourself a new lease of life. Many residents of retirement homes that I speak with say they wish they had made the move sooner, so make the most of it. Don’t leave it until circumstances force you to act.

Retirement Homesearch from FirstPort has built its reputation as Britain’s leading retirement property sales service for almost 30 years. It has over 2,000 properties available for sale nationwide and more than 15,000 new buyers register every year.

26 May 2015