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We want to help make the UK the best place to grow old which is why we commission research into retirement living including downsizing benefits and more

How to downsize your home guide

With insights from experts and homeowners, learn why many seniors are moving to a smaller home—and how to do it—with our complete guide to downsizing after retirement.

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Reports and research
Posted 22 January 2024
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How to downsize your home: a complete guide

Would you be better off in a property that is easier to maintain, easier to live in and more affordable? Moving to a smaller home is a big decision so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of downsizing. To help you to decide if it’s right for you, we’ve enlisted the help of two industry experts, Gary Fitzgibbon, a SA-HFD-chartered occupational psychologist who studies retirement, and Margaret Wilson, a former psychiatric nurse and professional declutterer, along with some McCarthy Stone homeowners.

The key things to consider when thinking about downsizing include:

What does downsizing your home mean?

In property terms, ‘downsizing’ refers to moving into a smaller home. While you may want to move to a smaller home at any age, the decision to downsize tends to be most common among those aged 55 and older—with just under a quarter (2.9 million) planning to downsize*. There are often triggers—perhaps your children have flown the nest leaving unused space or you no longer want the hassle of maintaining a large house and garden.  

a living room with a large glass door

The pros and cons of downsizing your home.

For many people downsizing their home offers the chance to:

So what are the pros and cons?

Pros of downsizing your home

Reduced maintenance

One of the major benefits of downsizing is the reduction in maintenance. Fewer rooms to look after means less housework, decorating and repairs while being freed from the upkeep of a large home and garden gives you more time to do things you love.

The maintenance of a larger property was something that we no longer wanted to deal with, and to come here where we have lovely, landscaped gardens without the hassle of constant maintenance is a huge relief - we can just sit back and enjoy.

- Mr and Mrs Booth, McCarthy Stone Homeowners

I feel so much more liberated now that I don't have the constant worry and stress of all the little jobs and work that needed doing to the house. Now it's all done for me and I have the real gift of having my time back to focus on myself and my family.

- Mr Nicholson, McCarthy Stone Homeowner

a flower bed in front of a house

Lower costs

Downsizing gives you the potential to free up equity, but that’s not the only way that it can save you money. There’s less need to spend on redecorating, repairs and DIY. You’ll save on your energy bills by having fewer rooms to heat and if you are moving to a newer property, it is likely to be much more energy efficient so you’ll also feel a lot warmer.

The money you save (or free up) through downsizing can make your pension go further – useful if you are worried about the cost of living – and you may even be able to finance a new hobby or to treat yourself to a trip of a lifetime. 

Improved health

Downsizing won’t only improve your financial health, it can seriously boost your physical and mental health, too. Gary says, “Downsizing relieves you of many onerous tasks, and allows you to free up time and financial resources so that you can structure your life in a way that is healthier.” On-site amenities such as domestic and personal care support or restaurants can make looking after yourself a breeze. “Probably the greatest health benefit downsizing can bring is the reduction in worry,” Margaret adds

Moving home, buying new furniture or choosing new décor can foster optimism making you feel positive and excited about your future too.

Overcome mobility and accessibility issues

A more practical living environment makes life more enjoyable. For example, a better designed kitchen makes cooking easier while even floors and wider halls help those using walkers or wheelchairs to get about. Our retirement properties are specifically designed with clever ergonomics, home adaptations and hidden care to make it easier if you develop things like arthritis, hearing loss or mobility issues.

a bathroom with a shower and sink

Cons of downsizing your home

Leaving a home you love

Understandably, some seniors are reluctant to downsize due to the happy memories connected to their current home and local community. But it’s worth noting that moving to a smaller home doesn’t have to mean a completely fresh start. You can search for a retirement village near you, so you can continue to live in your current community—while becoming a part of a new one too. In fact a new social life is a huge benefit of retirement living, as Nigel and Janice discovered when they moved to a McCarthy Stone development in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

“One of the biggest advantages of Scott Place for us is the community feel and social side. You can’t help seeing people as you go about your daily business, so you never feel isolated. During our time here we’ve enjoyed some excellent parties and gatherings.“ says Nigel, “including a New Year party, which went on until two am! There are also groups who get together to do jigsaw puzzles, yoga, handicrafts and gardening. I never thought at the ripe old age of 81, I would meet so many new people!”

Less space

If you’re used to living in a large property, moving to a smaller home can seem daunting, but you may be surprised by how light, bright and spacious McCarthy Stone apartments are and they’re designed to incorporate smart storage solutions too. Plus you have access to expansive communal lounges and gardens so you can enjoy lots of space without the hassle of upkeep.

a living room with a couch and a table

The stress of the move

Decluttering, packing and moving are undoubtably stressful but with McCarthy Stone you are supported every step of the way – and our fantastic partners, from caring legal teams to superstar removal men and women, make the moving proves as simple as possible. Margaret says, “While moving does present practical and emotional challenges, the long-term consequences often far outweigh them.”

Best way to downsize your home: 5 top tips

Are you preparing to downsize before retirement? Or are you keen to downsize after retirement? Whatever your plans, get yourself ready with five top tips on how to downsize your home.

1. Start planning early

Should you decide that downsizing is right for you, start planning early to make your move less stressful. Think about what matters to you. What’s your preferred location? Do you want to stay local or move nearer to family? Do you want an apartment or retirement bungalow? How would you like to pay for your home? Our retirement homes offer a range of options such as buying, renting, part buy, part rent, and Shared Ownership to fit your finances and circumstances.

2. Find your perfect home

Once you’ve prioritised your wish list, it’s time to find a retirement home that matches your criteria. Boasting a stylish and modern design, our retirement bungalows and apartments have the edge when it comes to security, energy efficiency, soundproofing and so much more. Plus, from the friendly on-site House Manager to the sociable communal spaces, you’ll have access to the range of services that make our communities so special.

3. Prepare for your move

Think about the amount of storage space you’ll have in a smaller home and clear out clutter you no longer need. It’s also time to consider putting your current home on the market. We can advise you on things like estate agents, packing services and legalities and should you want to skip the hassle of selling your home altogether, part exchange is a popular option.

4. Enjoy a Smooth Move

Take the hassle out of removals with our Smooth Move package which includes specialist decluttering, packing, unpacking and the moving of your possessions as well as assistance with associated costs to save you time, effort and money.

5. Make your house a home

We’ll give you a warm welcome into your new home, help you unpack, introduce you to your neighbours and even provide a handyperson to help you to put up pictures and shelves.

Downsize your home with McCarthy Stone

Did you know that you don’t need to be retired to move into one of our retirement homes? As long as you’re aged 60 or over, you’ll be able to enjoy all McCarthy Stone has to offer—regardless of whether you choose to downsize before or after retirement.

So, whether you’re ready to find a retirement home right now or prefer to plan ahead with our off-plan developments, discover a new home that suits your timelines now.

Are you ready to make the move?

Learn more about how to downsize your home with McCarthy Stone today. Call us on 0800 201 4811 or contact us online for more information.

*Research carried out by LaingBuisson, 2018.


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