The upside of downsizing… and 5 tips to make the move easier for retirees

Fabulous new retirement resorts have made downsizing something to cherish, rather than dread, for many retirees.

There is still a lot of emotion, nevertheless, around the thought of moving out of the family home. There are also the practicalities: finding the right retirement living option; sorting through household items and family treasures; and negotiating the sale and purchase of properties. Following these simple tips will help ensure the change is as stress-free as possible and create a path for an exciting new phase of life.

1. Communicate with your family

Sitting down with loved ones to explain why you are downsizing – and what lifestyle you are trying to achieve – is a crucial step. This helps all family members understand your decision and opens the way for a discussion about culling household items or allocating sentimental items to various family members.

2. Have a clear plan

When considering possible retirement living options, ensure you know what you want and don’t want (and write down the key must-haves). If living near the beach is a dream, for example, there is little point in checking out properties in the suburbs. Decide on the level of luxury desire, and whether leisure facilities such as pools, spas, barbecue terraces and community gardens are on the list. Is it important to live near shops, cafes and medical facilities? Setting out your priorities and what matters most to you from the outset will make the decision-making process less confusing.

3. Do your homework

After narrowing down your retirement property options, look beyond the glossy brochures to determine if the property is really right for you. Talk to current residents about their experience at the location, and sit down with the centre’s staff to go over all your questions and concerns (this will also give you a feel for the culture of the property and its management). Your queries should range from the basic (Are pets allowed? Are whitegoods, phones and data cabling supplied in the units? What social activities are available?) through to more complex considerations (What do the body corporate fees cover? How much deposit is required to secure an apartment? What are the refund policies?). Another big issue in an era when the population is ageing is to check whether a retirement facility can offer ageing-in-care services as your medical needs evolve.

4. Seek professional advice

Moving into a retirement living facility is a major financial decision, so seek out advice from accountants or financial planners well in advance of any move. This will help you better understand your options and potential commitments with matters such as legal and estate agent fees, stamp duty and any contracts you are required to sign. The managers of reputable retirement living destinations will also be happy to provide clarity around big issues such as service standards, healthcare costs and the calculation of departure fees.

5. Get involved in your new community

Once you have settled into your new home, enjoy it. Take part in some of the available social activities and reach out to make new friends. You are sure to find that there are others who share your interests.

Most of all, remember that downsizing and moving into a retirement living resort can be a very positive experience – and the start of a new adventure.