How do you downsize for retirement?

When it comes to retirement, one of the most dreaded phases is that of downsizing. Instead of spending time planning on living a stress-free life, retirees often struggle to cope with the decision to sell a home they have spent a lifetime in.

But that does not have to be the case. Downsizing can be something exciting, if it is approached with the right frame of mind.

Typically, downsizing involves moving from a home, owned through freehold, to one under sectional-title ownership.

But there is a new concept regarding the acquisition of a roof over one’s head that is particularly suited to the retired market – the life rights model.

A life right’s purchase offers a sense of community, top levels of security, continuous healthcare, an endless array of activities and amenities, all without the maintenance issues and financial worries.

A retiree essentially buys the right to occupy a property for the rest of their lives.

Is downsizing right for you?

The very thought of moving out of the home where one has lived 20,30 or 40 years involves a massive mind shift.

Going this route is not easy. Getting rid of a lifetime’s worth of things, as a way of downscaling for more comfortable living in the future, might not sound ideal.

Benefits of downsizing

One of the most significant benefits of downsizing is financial. Not only does one rid oneself of countless possessions, gaining financial rewards, but going the life rights route certainly sees them saving on monthly maintenance expenses.

This can almost immediately translate to a better quality of life, as one makes the transition to a retirement village that have a wealth of facilities, activities, and physical security benefits.

“Of course, it is imperative to do your homework when looking for the right retirement village. Many retirees register with several villages years prior to being ‘ready’ for the move. But when it happens, it is usually a step after the loss of a loved one, or a partner needing nursing care,” says Garry Reed, Managing Director of Evergreen Lifestyle Villages.


But how much nicer would it be to spend time in a new environment together? So many residents wish they had made the move years earlier.

What to get rid of?

Questions around downsizing generally turn to what to get rid of.

And never assume your children would want to keep your stuff. This doesn’t necessarily mean selling it, but you can make donations to charities, should you want to?

While it’s best to start the process as quickly as possible, a general rule of thumb is to start the downsizing process three months before the big move. Get your children and even friends involved to make it a communal experience.

Some retirement villages, like Evergreen, have experienced staff to assist by helping prepare the home for sale (from garden maintenance or modernising kitchen countertops/ cupboards to a fresh coat of paint).

“We can also assist by fitting existing furniture into a new apartment, suggest items to sell and advice as to where to buy new furniture to suit apartment living,” says Astra Wilson, a representative of Evergreen Lifestyle. “On occasion Evergreen has even gone as far as furnishing the apartments from scratch for a new resident,” she says.

Downsizing need not be viewed in a negative light, but rather a necessary step to a happier next chapter.