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What are your downsizing options?

There are many downsizing options available to people thinking about moving on from their current home. Before deciding on what is best for you, it’s wise to spend some time understanding the pros and cons of each option.

Buying into a Downsizing Community:

A “Downsizing Community” also known as a Lifestyle Village or Land Lease Community is a place where independent people aged 50+ can live in a secure and vibrant residential environment. In addition to providing housing, Lifestyle Villages typically offer home owners private access to a range of resort-style amenities that support an active and connected way of life.

In these communities, you buy and own your home and have a secure lease on the land on which your home sits. Unlike retirement villages, these communities are typically younger and do not contain the support services needed by people of advanced age.

When assessing if this type of living is right for you make sure you understand the following key areas:
  • Is there a weekly site fee & what does it cover?
  • How does buying a home in the community work?
  • Can you access government concessions like rental assistance? 
  • Are there any costs payable when living in the community? 
  • What facilities accompany home ownership?
  • Are there any exit fees payable if you decide to move out of the community?
  • Are pets allowed? 
  • What measures are in place to protect your security of tenure? 
  • What legislative protection is available? 
  • What homes are available and what is included in these homes?
  • Are there any rules in the community?

Buying a Smaller Home:

If the kids have moved or your relationship status has changed, you may be now living in a home with a lot of surplus space. Moving to a more compact home with fewer bedrooms and a smaller garden might be the right option for you. 

When assessing if a smaller home is your best downsizing option its worth doing some research and ask yourself key questions like: 
  • What are the prices of smaller homes in my target area/s? How much money will I have left over after I sell my old home and buy new? Don’t forget to account for the cost of real estate agents selling fees, stamp duty, conveyancing costs and other associated moving charges.
  • What will the annual running costs and outgoings be? Some of the questions you can ask are: What are the annual council rates? What will it cost to insure my home and contents? 
  • Is the home energy efficient? Energy efficiency affects your utility costs like heating and cooling so pay attention to things like what appliances are in the home, the heating and cooling methods & the orientation of the home.
  • What is the ‘real’ condition of the home? Clever styling and a lick of paint can hide faults and shortcomings in a home. Unless you’re an expert, it’s a good idea to engage a qualified building inspector to do a thorough inspection of the house, so there are no nasty surprises down the track. 
  • How much maintenance will be required? How old is the home? Will any of the appliances and utilities in the home need updating? How much gardening is required? Do the materials on the homes exterior need regular attention etc. Maintenance ads to the costs of living so you need to consider what’s coming.
  • Are the homes in my price range in a location where I will enjoy living? Get a feel for the vibe of the neighbourhood by taking a walk around at different times of the day.
  • Take note of neighbouring homes – are they well presented?
  • Does the area feel safe? Is the location quiet and does it offer a sense of community? 
  • Is the home future proof? How long will the home be suitable for my needs? Here you can look at things like if the home is single or double-storey and whether it has home automation, accessibility measures or stairs to navigate. 
  • Is the home well located? Am I near shops, entertainment, public transport and other important services?
  • Am I eligible for any government downsizing incentives? Downsizers in different states are entitled to different incentives through stamp duty rebates or concessions so you should always check on what’s available to you before you downsize. 

Buying a Unit or Apartment: 

Another downsizing option is to consider a move to a unit or into an apartment building. You could buy off the plan or purchase an existing unit or apartment within your current neighbourhood.

Many of the questions above are still relevant when assessing if a unit or apartment is the right option for you. Here are a few other areas that you should look into: 
  • What kind of ownership structure applies to the property? 
  • Is there an owners corporation, and what are the annual owners’ corporation fees? 
  • Are there any fees or charges you may be required to pay after you move in?
  • Are there strata fees or payments to sinking funds? Do you have to pay any extra fees to use on-site amenities and services? 
  • Are there any restrictions on what you can and cannot do to your home if you want to make some alterations or improvements?
  • Who are your neighbours? Make enquiries about who else lives at the location? Are they owner-occupiers or renters or are they short stay accommodation listed on AirBnb? It’s also good to see if they are young families, singles or older people? It’s important that you can you see yourself fitting in? 
  • Sociability & Privacy. Can you balance social interaction with neighbours against your desired levels of privacy? 
  • Are there any rules or codes of conduct that apply to living in the location? These often apply to things like car parking, hanging out washing out and pet ownership.
  • What kind of amenities are available (if any)?  
  • Will the residence appreciate in value over time? Review what price other units and apartments have sold for in recent times.