Before you know it, the day will come where the children have left the home for decades and now have families of their own. Additionally, you have been in employment for countless years and have reached the age of retirement. Rummaging around a large home with your partner and having to climb numerous sets of stairs in later life, you also face looking after the upkeep, the pool, the yard and it all becomes too much physically and financially. This is where it makes perfect sense to downsize and move into a smaller home that is easier to maintain and financially less draining!
There are many benefits to preparing for this next stage of your life: you can do all of this on your own, but it is far wiser to consult with an expert or your family and friends as it will undoubtedly be a stressful and emotional time and having assistance with making some of the decisions will help a lot. Not only does it involve decluttering your home and getting rid of sentimental items that are at times seemingly irreplaceable… it’s also the sale of your existing house and finding a new home, changing the way you have lived for many years and having to adapt to a new way of doing things. But it is not all gloom and doom, this can be a very rewarding and satisfying experience and provide you and your partner with a new lease on life!
Here are 8 things to consider when downsizing in preparation for your retirement in Malta:
1. Ask what the reasons are for moving
Moving home is stressful at any age, but more than 60% of people that face retirement move home and it is likely that you will too. Research shows that retirees primarily want to be closer to their families or cut down on expenses. Other times the motivation to move and downsize is due to ill health or because of financial problems. Some of the other questions to ask yourself are:
- Do you have the time and money to invest in moving?
- Are you willing to give up some of the perks you currently have?
- Where can you to see yourself living if you move?
- How big should your new home be?
- Can you cope with different levels or some measure of stairs in the new home or should it be all on one floor?
- Are you willing to sell or let go of many of your belongings?
2. Crunch the numbers
Keep in mind that incurring some measure of savings is a main reason for moving to smaller premises in retirement. This will mean that your retirement fund will last longer and increase in size. You will also spend less on cleaning and upkeep as a newer, smaller property will need less repairs and you will also need less staff (if any) to look after it.
Additionally having fewer rooms and smaller premises means lower utility bills and the property is likely to have new technology incorporated such as double-glazing and proper insulation, unlike many older properties. This will all contribute to you saving more money.
For those that have lived in a home for many decades, it may come as a surprise to find out that selling a home many years later is not cheap. It is thus very important to have a well-planned forecast of the all the possible costs involved so you are not caught off-guard. Here are some costs to ask about and consider:
- As laws have changed over the decades, your future home may involve annual or monthly fees for maintenance and upkeep should you buy in an apartment or retirement complex.
- Spending money on getting your current home ready for marketing. This can involve simple steps like painting and refreshing interiors to costly upgrades as required by law, especially in older homes.
- Estate agents’ fees in the form of commission when your home gets sold are worth every cent, but many a seller have been surprised by not taking it into account when calculating the final pay-out of a home that’s ended up as sold.
- New and essential items needed for your new home are a given, but always be careful not to buy on impulse now that you have some cash available. For starters, only buy what you are really going to need.
3. Start the process of downsizing
Once you have decided that you are moving, you will have to reduce the amount of personal possessions. To older people this can either be a very confusing and stressful time or a very liberating one. Start out small and take one room into account at a time, starting with rooms you use the least. Before you know it you would have worked through the entire property. Don’t rush things and take your time within reason to get it done the right way. Downsizing takes a long time and this can be expected to run into many months, but always make sure you have set a timeframe and stick to it.
4. Be realistic and brutal with decluttering when downsizing
We all get attached to our possessions over the years and it is never easy letting things go. When you are facing getting rid of almost three quarters of your “stuff” in a matter of weeks or months that took 20 or 30 years to accumulate, it can be very tough. The golden rule is that if you have not used something in the last year, it is a good candidate to sell/ donate or get rid of.
5. Measure furniture items you are keeping and take pictures of your current home
Take precise measurements of furniture and other bulky items you are keeping to see if it will fit into your new, smaller home. Also take pictures of room layouts and wall arrangements so you can duplicate it in your new home so that it will feel familiar from the start.
6. Raise extra money
When downsizing a big home, you will be surprised at the amount of money you can get for certain items. If you are unsure of what to ask, get a trusted appraiser or auctioneer in to value your items. There’s a big demand for quality mid-century items: from furniture to appliances and more. Also ask younger members of the family to post other items for sale on places like Maltapark and Facebook. Be careful with any of the transactions and avoid getting scammed, so ask family or friends to help you out should you find yourself in unchartered waters when selling on-line.
7. What you can do to cope with stress and emotions
Sorting through decades of accumulated items can be emotionally taxing and it is never easy to say goodbye. What will help tremendously is focusing on the next chapter of your life, instead of dwelling on what once was. Understandably so, there will be tough times ahead where you may even end up in tears and having a fight with friends or family that are helping you through the process of downsizing. If you do not have anyone to assist you emotionally, do not hesitate to seek professional help during this difficult time.
8. It’s time to sell and move on!
When you have cleared your home and know what you are taking with you, the time has come to market your home if you have not done so already. If you have owned your home for a long time and used it as your primary residence, you are unlikely to pay capital gains tax. If you still have items that are hard to part with, but you do not have the space in your new home, think of putting them in storage for a while. The options of a new home may include one of the following: a brand-new property, moving in with family, going to a retirement home or opting for a unit in an assisted living facility.
Look on the bright side: as a retiree you now have the option to choose where you want to live as opposed to when you were working and your first choice was probably to be close to where you worked. As we get on in years it is also important to plan ahead for the future, so you may want to choose a property that is all on one level. This is where your estate agent can be invaluable in finding you a home or apartment that suits your needs and budget. Start building a relationship during the early days of deciding to downsize with a good, qualified agent and see what options they have for you when the time comes to sell.
If you decide to not sell your home but need more money in old age, downsizing means you can keep your home but rent it out. This way you can move into something that the rental income from your property will cover with hopefully some money left over at the end of the month from your home’s rental to supplement your income and living expenses!
As you can see, there are several options when it comes to property downsizing, so speak to your local estate agent way in advance and draw up an action plan so you are ready when the time eventually arrives to downsize…and remember, it is the start of the next exciting chapter of your life!