Thinking about Downsizing?

Seven years ago, I watched my parents downsize from a large home on acreage to a two bedroom apartment in the Harbour suburb of Milsons Point. Being on acreage mum had award winning gardens that she loved to work in (or we thought she did), lots of bedrooms and living areas so there was always room for the 13 grand children to visit and stay and it had a couple of dams and all the grandchildren remember the property fondly.

Mum and dad thought they would rent for a while just to see if they could cope with such a massive downsize. They pretty much gave all their furniture away and just kept their much-loved pieces and necessities such as beds, lounge etc.

From an outsider looking in, I have never seen mum so happy. I think it’s a combination of not having to clean such a large home, not having to pick up the sticks from the garden on a daily basis and not having to have all the grandchildren at once come and stay! I asked mum if she misses the garden as we were under the assumption she loved it so much, but she says not at all – I think it was more of an escape for her, whereas now she has her walks around the Harbour and all over Sydney to escape too. It takes 30mins to clean the whole apartment, rather than the hours previously and the “stuff” that they had accumulated is not missed at all. I think we can all agree that when you have a place to put it, then you’ll use it. They also can’t believe how much money they are saving with less bills, including electricity being 1/10th of their previous place.

So after months of discussion, the fact that two of our four teenagers had left for overseas and a holiday over Christmas staying in an apartment we decided we’d take the plunge and make the decision to downsize given mum kept telling me she wished she did it 20 years earlier… learning from her own experience, we thought why not?

We did discuss this with the kids because only 3 years earlier we had built our dream home which was 5 bedrooms + study and several living areas and of course a backyard……room for everyone. It’s funny how you need the space when the kids are younger yet you can’t afford it and as soon as we could afford it, no sooner had we built it that one moved out and the others ventured overseas. My children were 23, 21, 18 and 15 so my main concern was for the 15-year-old as he is still at school and has a couple of years left.

I’d made it clear to my kids that whilst I love them to death, I don’t want them to live with me forever and they all agreed and we decided to sell first to ensure we knew how much money we could afford to spend on our new purchase. As we had been living in suburbia we wanted to move to somewhere with a bit more buzz and we decided upon the lower North Shore – near Crows Nest. We visited on weekends and decided this was the suburb for us however we didn’t discount surrounding suburbs.

We viewed several properties over 4-6 weeks and had our checklist of “must haves” which included 3 bed, 2bath, 2car and storage. We found what we were looking for and negotiated prior to auction and were successful. As we had negotiated a 12-week settlement on our sale it gave us time to search seriously for a property and ended up with an 8 week settlement on our new place so we could do a simultaneous settlement.

We had 8 weeks to basically clear our house out. We had 3 additional living areas, 2 additional bedrooms and a study just to start. This didn’t include the garage or shed of which we didn’t need to take any of it with us. We were lucky as our buyers ended up purchasing things such as the fridge, lawn mower, BBQ, etc. It’s always worth asking.

I then placed a lot of stuff on Marketplace which is an online shop attached to Facebook and I found it fantastic. It’s free and even if you aren’t selling it’s an awesome place to sell stuff. For the things we couldn’t sell we gave away so that when we moved we were only taking what would fit as we didn’t want to pay for additional storage.

I must admit it was an extremely cathartic exercise and I highly recommend it. I also had another vendor going through the same exercise and she also agreed.

The moving day came and like anytime you move, it’s an extremely stressful experience along with the whole buying and selling process, yet at the same time, exciting. I collected the keys and walked in as the removalist was close behind. They started putting our “stuff” in place and panic set over me. “Have we done the wrong thing?”, “are we going to fit”, “how are we going to live in such a small space?”, etc etc.

The first few days were a blur as I couldn’t sleep. Once again because of excitement combined with the stress. I do like everything to have a spot so when things weren’t exactly like I had planned, I had to find a solution. A few tweaks and things were starting to look good. There is always stuff you want to do to make it feel like your home and that is an ongoing process however the bonus with downsizing is you save money because when you look at stuff you realise you have nowhere to place it!

So 3 years later ……….. my verdict……… best decision we have ever made. Life’s too short to be mowing lawns and maintaining gardens! For us it’s all about life experiences – not the “stuff” we surround ourselves with. We 100% do not miss any of the “stuff” we had at our old place – it’s so liberating.

If you are looking to downsize and would just like some advice on selling, buying or preparing the house for sale please give us a call – we can help make the process easy!

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