Should I downsize my house?

Downsizing is when you buy a house or apartment that is smaller than the one you currently own. It is also known as rightsizing – moving to a home of a suitable size but should you downsize your home?

What does it mean to downsize house?

Downsizing is when you buy a house or apartment that is smaller than the one you currently own. It is also known as rightsizing – moving to a home of a suitable size.

 

Should I downsize my house? 

If you’ve spent years climbing the property ladder, buying a smaller home may be something you’ve never thought about - but downsizing can bring so many benefits and make your life easier.

Of course, downsizing is all about choosing the right home for you – somewhere you really want to live – and this is a very personal decision.

You may want to downsize house to be nearer family or friends. It may be that after years of living in a town that you want to move to a village that is surrounded by countryside with lots of walks on the doorstep. If you’re living in a house in a rural area, far from shops, services and other people, you may decide to downsize to a house or apartment in the heart of a village or town.

Of course, when you downsize your house, the actual process of selling up and moving can be physically and emotionally challenging but, if you’re buying a new home, the developer or housebuilder may have schemes designed to make the move easier – and don’t be afraid to accept help from friends and family. 

“Decluttering was a challenge at the time but once it’s done, you tend to forget about it and there are other things to look forward to.”

Mrs C. Wheatley

A man and a woman enjoying a glass of white wine on a private balcony at their apartment.

Why downsize? 

In our experience, downsizers, particularly those who downsize house for retirement or even downsize house to save money, do not regret making a move. Once they have moved the benefits of downsizing become clear.

“We thought we would be sad to leave our family home but, ultimately, we were ready to make the move and have absolutely no regrets. We decided that the time was right and, at this stage of our lives, we will be able to create more memories in our new home. We are sure we have done the right thing in moving.”

Mr and Mrs W

What are the advantages of downsizing?

  1. Less maintenance -  more time and money to spend on doing things you enjoy

  2. Easier maintenance/more security -  ‘lock up and leave’

  3. Releasing equity by downsizing can make life – or your retirement – more comfortable

  4. A smaller home in a prime location means less driving, easier access to shops, services and transport links. 

  5. An energy-efficient, smaller home will be warmer in winter and less expensive to run.

Why aren’t we all downsizing? 

The simple answer is that we do not even think about it until later life – even though downsizing, can be beneficial at any time of life.

Homeowners spend years upsizing. Young families and couples who enjoy entertaining focus on buying a succession of larger houses with gardens. It’s difficult to change this mindset once the children have grown up and left home or when you no longer entertain as much.

Have you ever decided against a property that won’t ‘fit’ your current furniture – the large dining table that you only use on special occasions? Have you ever said you want a four-bedroom house in case people visit – but the only time anyone stays is at Christmas? 

In our experience, once people change their mindset, they find that downsizing is a life-changing experience which allows them to enjoy their leisure time.

Of course, leaving a place where you’ve lived for years is not easy. Our family homes hold happy memories and we are comfortable in areas we know well but moving to a new community can mean living alongside like-minded people who become friends – so downsizing can mean a whole new social life.

Downsizing doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on space – inside or out - though. You don’t have to downsize from a house to an apartment or downsize to a tiny house from a large family home. You can find homes that provide plenty of living space but with fewer bedrooms than your large family house. 

When to downsize house?

There isn’t a perfect time to downsize house – when to downsize your house depends on your lifestyle and circumstances. If you are of retirement age, it makes sense to downsize whilst you are still fit and healthy  - when you want to rather than when you need to. 

“We had a lovely little cottage but decided to move because we were looking towards the future. Our cottage had a steep staircase and my wife is beginning to struggle with her knees so we thought that it was better to move whilst we could rather than waiting a few years and having to move.”

Mr and Mrs B.

Why do people downsize?

Financial

  • Struggling to pay a mortgage

  • If you’ve been made redundant

  • To release equity for a more comfortable lifestyle

  • To save/release money in retirement

 

Less maintenance

  • To reduce the amount of work if you have a busy life or job

  • If you’re finding it difficult to manage a large house/garden as you age

  • Desire for a better balance between home/work/leisure

  • Planning for retirement – age/ill health can make us less able to maintain a house

  • Bereavement – a new start and less work following the loss of a partner

 

Energy efficiency

  • Reduce energy bills

  • Have a home that’s warmer in the winter

  • Reduce energy usage for environmental reasons

 

Security

  • A home that’s more secure if you want to ‘lock up and leave’

  • A location in a community that feels safer and more secure

 

Better location

  • Closer to family and friends

  • Closer to shops, services and other people

  • Save money and time commuting

  • Giving up the car for health, economic or environmental reasons

  • To live in a favourite town or village or closer to countryside walks

A man sitting with a dog on a garden sofa on a sunny day.

How to downsize your house

Whether you’ve sold your current home or if you’re marketing the property, the following are all things to think about:

  1. Does your new home suit your current and future needs? Will you be able to cope with the access and/or stairs in 20 years’ time? Does the property have the parking you need?
  2. Is it close to shops and services?
  3. What is the public transport like in the area?
  4. Are there places where you can go for walks?
  5. Will you be able to keep your pet?
  6. Measure your new living spaces. It’s worth thinking about buying new furniture when you move (unless you own antiques or valuable family pieces). Many downsizers miss out on suitable homes because they have decided that their old sofa won’t fit – when they’d be better buying a new sofa.
  7. Explore all the opportunities in the local area before you move – where is the nearest church and what does it offer in terms of community classes and events? What local clubs are there? 
  8. Enlist the help of friends and family for the day of the actual move.
  9. Start decluttering in good time in preparation for your move. 

Downsizing: frequently asked questions

Some retirement developers offer part exchange when you are buying one of their properties but often, for part exchange, the property you are buying needs to be more expensive than the one you are selling. 

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