“Does this spark joy?”
Millions of people are asking themselves this question about their homes and possessions thanks to Marie Kondo and her wildly popular decluttering philosophy.
Once the kids have moved out, it’s just you, your spouse, and whatever is still boxed up in extra bedrooms and the attic. Whether you’re looking for joy or just a little less space and stuff to manage, you might be thinking about decluttering and “downsizing” into a smaller home before you retire.
Several of our clients have moved to specific ‘retirement’ properties with a range of facilities and activities on site. And, from what they tell us, this has been a great move for them.
But sometimes less can be more: more hassle, more complicated, and more expensive. Before you and your spouse order that skip and make a deposit on that retirement apartment, consider these important pros and cons of downsizing.
PRO: Make a change while you can still enjoy it.
The younger you are during a downsize, the less help you’re going to need clearing out what you don’t want and relocating. And a clean, organised home can be a great “blank slate” as you start easing into your new life. You might even organise a move around interests you want to pursue in retirement, like a retirement village with golf or other facilities, or a burgeoning foodie hotspot with an exploding restaurant scene.
CON: You might make a change you don’t both enjoy.
Couples need to be very clear with each other about their expectations for what life is going to be like in retirement, and how each of you want to spend your time separately and together. A downsizing that moves you to a new town, away from friends, family, and familiar comforts, can go from exciting to exasperating very quickly if both spouses aren’t committed to adventuring together. One spouse might be happily teeing off while the other is pottering around the house bored silly.
And while a smaller house without kids and clutter might mean more room for you and your spouse, it’s still going to be closer quarters than you’re used to. Is less space going to provide you both with enough personal space? As someone once remarked you could end up with ‘twice as much husband in half the space’.
PRO: Simplified living.
A smaller home means less upkeep. If you buy, you’ll probably pay less in council tax than you did at your larger house. With less space to heat and cool, and no kids soaking up extra water, food, and electricity, your monthly bills might go down. If your smaller house is relatively new, it might require less upkeep and age well right along with you.
CON: Simple isn’t free.
There’s a pretty good chance your current furniture isn’t going to fit or fit in at your new house. Our old stuff is never as valuable as we want it to be, so even if you sell this on then you’ll probably still end up dipping into your nest egg to buy new furnishings. Anything you don’t want to get rid of you’re going to have to store, possibly at a storage facility you’ll have to pay for.
If you move to a specialist retirement property, your new home might come with additional service charges. What you save on the bills might be offset by those service charges.
PRO: Living the best life possible with your money.
The best reason to consider downsizing doesn’t really have anything to do with decluttering. It’s not about managing space or what to do with all your possessions.
No, the reason to downsize is because that smaller home you’re thinking about will allow you to live the life you want to live in retirement. It’s because that home is going to give you the space to do the things you want to do with the people you love, while minimizing the things you don’t want to do anymore.
Does that idea spark joy?
Then let’s talk. Come in and tell us why you’re thinking about downsizing. We’ll run some numbers and discuss how a new, smaller home could open a big new world of possibilities for you and your spouse.