Here’s a true story—30 years ago we at Perspective knew a couple who exchanged their 2 storey, 5 bedroom home with its grand piano on an Adelaide lake for a tiny caravan. Not because of their desire to travel Australia (although they did plenty of that); not because of any intrinsic need to live a simpler, less materialistic lifestyle; not because of money reasons; but because they wanted to get their adult son to move out of their house. Seriously.
Signs it’s time to downsize.
There are a lot of reasons why people choose to downsize, and not are all that drastic. For some it’s a lifestyle choice—upkeep on a 4 bedroom house in the suburbs, with its trees that need pruning, leaf-filled rain gutters, and multiple bathrooms to clean, can be enough to spur someone into more compact, convenient living.
For others it’s the health factor. Stairs are getting hard to manage; working in the flower beds has become difficult and the idea of living in closer contact with others has its appeal. Many empty nesters downsize because they simply don’t need all those extra rooms.
But by far the biggest motivation to downsize is retirement, and the change in financial circumstances that go with it. Many seniors choose to downsize to unlock the equity in their home, using the funds to complement their superannuation and age pension.
Government support to downsize.
The ACT government recognises this need to downsize into a home that better suits your needs and provides assistance for people to make the change with the little-known Over 60s Home Bonus Scheme and Pensioner Duty Concession Scheme. Both reduce stamp duty to as little as $20 for homes that cost less than $660,000, potentially saving up to $21,440. There is also discounted stamp duty available under these two schemes for properties valued between $660,000 to $865,000.
Financial benefits of downsizing.
First less start with the easy stuff—a smaller place has lower running costs: there’s less maintenance, it’s cheaper to heat/cool, it uses less electricity, and council rates are lower. That extra cash you save on running costs can:
- be put towards a mortgage to pay that off sooner (saving on interest)
- be funnelled into your superannuation
- be used to fund that overseas holiday you’ve been dreaming of for decades.
By selling your larger home and buying something smaller, you may end up with no mortgage at all, freeing up some income every month to go toward all of the above. If the proceeds from selling your larger home don’t completely cover the cost of your new place, it’s a chance to renegotiate your mortgage to a lesser amount with smaller monthly repayments, giving you more disposable income to finance your retirement partying lifestyle.
Questions to ask before downsizing.
Will I miss important aspects about my current home?
If your best days are spent in the garden, if you’re always tinkering in your garage, if you host large dinner parties on a regular basis, think hard about downsizing. How will you accommodate the things you love in a smaller home? That’s not to say it can’t, or shouldn’t, be done. It may just mean that you need a townhouse rather than an apartment, or a place close to a community garden.
How will future life events affect my living conditions?
Is it likely that you’ll have adult children move back in with you as they go to uni or save for a deposit? Are grandkids on the horizon? Do you plan to pack up and leave for warmer weather each winter? Apartments are great for lock-n-leave lifestyles—and for making sure the kids stay out of home.
What will I do with all my stuff?
Downsizing means getting rid of a lot of things—rooms full of furniture, decades of knick knacks, family heirlooms. Most people who embark on massive culls feel a sense of freedom at ridding themselves of material baggage. How else do you explain the phenomenon that is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? But for a lot of people letting go of things can be distressing, so ask yourself—Can I let go of all that spare bedding? The tea set I don’t use that my mother gave me? The books that accumulated over the years? Or a lifetime collection of power tools?
How to downsize.
- Choose your neighbourhood. Consider proximity to family and friends, health professionals, supermarkets and any social activities you regularly take part in. The older you are the more important it is to be in walking distance of day-to-day conveniences.
- Apartment, townhouse or smaller house? This will be determined by your intended lifestyle.
- Seek financial advice. Superannuation, age pension, mortgages. All of three of these have loop holes, caveats, and hidden details. When selling or buying a home, a finance professional will be able to sit down and tailor a strategy to suit your individual circumstances. Sitting down with Clarity Financial Group could save you thousands.
- Look at your options. Canberra is booming with new developments that are perfect for those looking to downsize. Some of these are ready for you to move in to now, others are off-the-plan developments, giving you time to go through your belongings, start the process of culling and allow your adult-child time to find his own place.
5 developments perfect for downsizing
- Amaya, Griffith. A prestigious development offering 1 – 3 bedroom designer apartments. Perfect for those who want to retain luxury living. Available now.
Atria, Kingston. Positioned in the heart of Kingston Atria offers a range of 1, 2 & 3 bedroom designs perfect for those wanting be part of the vibrant social scene that Green Square offers. Expected completion Q2 2018.
- Wayfarer, Belconnen. 1, 2 & 3 bedroom designs. Perfect for those who want the convenience of Belconnen Town Centre and a lock-n-leave lifestyle. Expected completion December 2016.
- Peninsula at the Foreshore, Kingston Foreshore. 1, 2 & 3 bedroom apartments. Perfect for luxury living removed from the pace of city life. Expected completion first quarter 2017.
- The Gallery, Braddon. 1 & 2 bedroom apartments, 3 bedroom double storey lofts. Perfect for those who want to be part of the action. Expected completion mid 2017.