When most people retire they are still living in the home where they raised their children, and have more space than they need for the next chapter of their lives.  Downsizing would seem to be an obvious way of re-gearing life for retirement. However, a recent study by the Department of Planning and Environment found that 600,000 Sydney homes have two or more spare bedrooms – and that many of these homes were owned by people aged over 50.

So why aren’t we downsizing?

Many retirees are caught between the desire to simplify their lives by downsizing, and the prospect of parting with sentimental things they have accumulated throughout their lifetime.  Often one partner is keen to move and the other is reluctant.  Sometimes adult children are attached to the memories in their family home.  Things get even more complicated when you consider the financial implications of releasing the equity in the family home.

So what can be done?

  • Think about your retirement lifestyle – What will you spend your time doing? How much space will you need? How much time and money do you plan to spend maintaining your home?
  • Find out your options – Once you’ve got a clearer picture of where you’d like to live, it will likely be easier to part with your family home – if that’s what you decide to do.
  • Keep the lines of communication open – If you have a partner it may take some time for you both to agree on where you’d like to live in retirement.  Don’t forget to talk to your adult children so they know what to expect.
  • Ask for help – There are now many services that can help you declutter and move.
  • Consider getting financial advice – To clarify the financial implications.
  • Act early – The more time you have and the better your health, the easier and smoother a move will be.

As with all aspects of retirement, the key is to be informed, be intentional and to make pro-active decisions – even if your decision is to stay put.