Find out about the different factors influencing when you should downsize, including the best age to downsize as well as the benefits and challenges with downsizing at different ages.
Downsizing is a popular lifestyle choice that is most commonly done by retirees, but can be done at any age. Whatever age you decide to downsize of not downsize there will always be pros and cons to downsizing for older people. But one key question for committed downsizers is, which age is the best age to downsize? Sure, most people do it as they get older, but is there a better age to make this kind of move? Are you missing out on an improved lifestyle by waiting too long? Or could you be missing out on benefits – amongst them financial appreciation of the value of your home – if you downsize to early?
Let’s explore the different ages to downsize and the pros and cons associated with property shrinking at those milestone ages:
First Things First: Why Downsize?
Downsizing comes with a lot of advantages. On a practical level, it’s an eco-friendly way to live. Smaller homes have a smaller environmental footprint, which requires less energy for running, as well as a need for fewer possessions and less rubbish being generated by the property.
If you are one of the three quarters of people in the UK who care about climate change and the environment, this kind of lifestyle change could be a big plus for you.
Financially, downsizing is another common reason that people choose to make this kind of change. A sizable amount of equity can be freed up for some homeowners, you spend less on monthly expenses, and maintenance of the property. This extra money saved by running a smaller property can be used to enjoy a better quality of life, or to save money for a deposit on a house purchase. The smaller home also leads to a simpler, more streamlined life overall. Less stuff to deal with, less space to clean, it’s a much more stripped back life that is appealing to many people.
Lastly, a huge advantage of downsizing is being able to maximise your life, as you minimise your living space. You can afford to live in areas that are much more expensive, where your budget for a bigger house wouldn’t have cut it. With a need for a smaller house, incredible opportunities are opened up in regards to where you can live, and the properties you can afford. It’s a case of quality over quantity of square footage.
Different Ages To Downsize
You can downsize your property at any age. Every age group offers pros and cons when it comes to downsizing, but understanding those factors can help you to make more of an informed decision, perhaps leading you to downsize earlier or later than planned. Let’s take a closer look:
Early Adulthood: The Starter Home Chapter
Early adulthood is the beginning of your journey into an independent adult life. It can be a time many adults think about living in a smaller property to embrace a more minimalist life, to save money for a larger goal like a deposit, or to have more flexibility with their finances so they can experience a better quality of life.
Of course, it’s not all roses. The path to downsizing in your early adult years can be challenging. It can be a risk, if you do own a house, to downsize and go down a step on the property ladder. You might not be able to climb up again, or if you do, it could cost more when the time comes. If you delay buying a house, it can be great to downsize your rental and save money, but this can lead to a lot of years potentially sacrificing quality of life saving for a deposit. For example, you might only rent a room, or live with your parents. In those instances, it is a good idea to save slowly and still enjoy day to day life, or save intensely so that you are achieving your goal quickly. Nobody should spend years miserable whilst they save, life really is too short.
Middle Age – Navigating Change
Middle age is a time of change for a lot of people, with downsizing commonly being a consideration for people at this time of life. Families grow and leave the nest, and the question of whether a smaller house makes more sense arises. It’s also an important time to plan retirement, considering whether or not downsizing early can help with those plans before retirement comes around. Simplifying the home, having less stuff, saving money on bills and maintenance, and releasing equity at this time can contribute to retirement plans.
Middle age isn’t just about the numbers, of course. There are lots of difficult feelings to manage. Letting go of a house that is full of memories can be really difficult. The logistics of downsizing can also be very hard to manage when you’re also still dealing with a career and kids that need you. Whilst it can be a good choice for some, it is a big project to sign up to, so there has to be a lot of well-considered reasons for doing it.
Retirement is a time to think about relaxation and adventure. Downsizing can help unlock those dreams, giving you less maintenance and expenses to consider, and instead, more money to spend on a better life. Additionally, by this point, for many people there is a large amount of equity to be released by downsizing, leading to the opportunity to make some substantial plans for adventure and fun.
Unlocking equity does, however, come with its downsides. A financial advisor can discuss what this means for you, and how it could impact your financial outlook in later life negatively. Additionally, sometimes downsizing isn’t the right choice for couples who love their home, its size and the memories it holds. For some people, now is not the time to be changing where they live. Now is the time to be enjoying it more than ever before.
Another, often under-appreciated, benefit to staying in a larger home is that you will have the space to accommodate a carer if needed in the future. Whether that is a family member coming to live with you to be a care-giver or a professional live-in carer, they will need some private space they can call their own. Live-in care could be right for you and is a great alternative to a residential care home.
The Golden Years
As the last part of your life comes around, downsizing could be a practical option that makes a lot of sense in lots of different ways. You might want a smaller property that is easier to manage and navigate as you age, with a manageable garden, everything on one floor, and opportunities to adjust to aid mobility changes.
You might want to unlock equity for your grandchildren early, or for yourselves so you can have adventures you always planned. You could also move to a retirement village with people of the same age, where you can be social, make friends and be close to support if you need it.
Of course, for some people, the golden years are about staying in the place they love the most. Utilising space on offer to house live-in carers, to house family members, or to adapt the space to suit your changing needs. It’s not always right to move away and downsize.
When Will You Downsize?
Maybe you will never downsize, and maybe you will at an age that makes sense to you. Everybody is different, and ultimately, doing your research at different life stages and connecting with how you feel, will lead you to make the best choice for you and your family.