Downsizing

How to downsize your home

6 min read

Thinking of downsizing? Here you'll find all you need to know about how to make a smaller home work for you! Find tips on planning and organising to help make your move stress-free.

  • Abigail Bolton Senior Digital Website and Content Marketing Executive
    Abigail Bolton

    Senior Digital Marketing Executive

    Published October 26th 2023

couple looking at how to downsize now that their kids have left the nest

Relocating to a smaller and less expensive property might be a good way to reduce expenses, gain financial freedom or just make a fresh start. Researching and planning will make the process less stressful and help you get organised. Worried about the legal aspects of downsizing? Your conveyancer will guide you through the process and complete your move as soon as possible.

In this article we explain

When should you downsize your home?

This is a personal decision that depends on your individual situation and needs – but a change in circumstances is what usually prompts the move. However, there are a few things that you might need to consider. For example, if your income has decreased because you’ve had a salary cut or you’re retiring, it might be a good opportunity to move to a less expensive place with more affordable maintenance costs and taxes. This could also help you reduce your mortgage payments or have a more comfortable retirement.

Whether you’re an empty nester approaching retirement, want to be mortgage-free or are looking to move close to your loved ones, do your research and find a neighbourhood and property that suits your new needs and priorities. You’ll also need to consider whether you want to reduce your mortgage payments or fully pay it off.

So, is it worth downsizing to be mortgage free?

Downsizing might be a good option if you’re looking to retire and gain financial freedom. Since your income will reduce when you retire, being mortgage-free might give you greater flexibility with monthly outgoings. As you’ll fully own your house, you could live comfortably without worrying about mortgage repayments.

Find out more about downsizing in retirement.

How to prepare to downsize your home

Whatever your reason for downsizing, here are a few questions that’ll help you get ready for your move.

  • Think if you’re downsizing for the right reasons. Since the process involves both financial and emotional costs, you need to feel confident that this decision will benefit you and improve your quality of life. Make sure you’ve factored in all expenses and if you’re struggling with the idea of downsizing check if there are other solutions that could work for you. (e.g. rent out a room in your home, get a part-time job)

  • Consider if you want to stay in your neighbourhood or move to a new area. Think about proximity to local amenities, green spaces, hospitals, transport links, as well as your family and friends. If you’re moving to a new neighbourhood, spend time there and make sure you visit at different times of the day

  • Decide the type of property that you’d like to purchase. As you age, your priorities and lifestyle will change, so you’ll need to find a flat or house that’s right for your current and future needs, especially if you’re approaching retirement.

  • Consider if you want to be mortgage-free before you put your existing property up for sale.

  • Check our complete guide to selling your home, to find out the steps you need to follow. To speed up the process, instruct a conveyancer to complete the legal work as soon as possible, so everything is ready when you find a buyer.

Costs to consider

Here’s a list of costs that you need to consider when downsizing:

  • Stamp Duty will be the biggest cost to take into consideration when deciding whether you can afford to downsize. It’s paid on any property over £250,000 and will vary depending on the purchase price.

  • Estate agent fees: Estate agents manage the details of your move and usually charge 1-3% in commission.

  • Conveyancing fees to cover all the legal and administrative work your conveyancer will complete. These will vary depending on your property purchase and sale. Get a personalised quote based on your circumstances in under 30 seconds.

  • Mortgage fees. You’ll need to consider mortgage fees if you’re still repaying a home loan.

  • EPC certificate. You’re legally required to provide any potential buyer with an energy performance certificate (EPC). This usually costs around £40 and is valid for 10 years.

  • Homebuyer’s survey is a detailed inspection on the property you’re interested in buying and will flag any issues. Find out more about the costs in our comprehensive guide to surveys.

  • Packing and moving costs can range from £600-£1,800 but you can always shop around to find the best price or even rent a van and do it yourself to save money.

  • Maintenance and improvement costs. You’ll need to cover the cost of repairs and getting your home ready to go on the market.

Find out more about the cost of selling a house and get tips to keep your expenses down

How to start downsizing your home

Here are the first steps you need to take before downsizing:

  • Start looking for a smaller home​. Research the house prices in different areas and aim for properties that are less expensive and might be easier to maintain.

  • Calculate costs. Make sure you’re aware of potential hidden costs before making your move. These could include the cost of moving and furnishing your new home, as well as expenses for repairing your existing house before selling it.

  • Get your property on the market​. Make any minor repairs, declutter, and tidy up your place so it looks as attractive as possible before the viewing. Get more tips on how to get your house ready to sell.

  • Secure your dream home as quickly as you can. Make sure you act fast and make an offer before someone else does. Your estate agent will be able to help you with the process, forwarding your offer to the seller.

  • Find and instruct a conveyancer​. Once you’ve had your offer accepted, select an experienced conveyancer to act on your behalf. They’ll guide you through the house-buying process and complete the legal work involved in transferring the home’s ownership.

  • Organise your move.​ Pack everything in labelled boxes and speak to your conveyancer to check that everything is in place before you move. Download our moving house checklist to make sure your move runs as smoothly as possible.  

  • Move to your new place. Check all the services are working and settle into your new home!

What to get rid of when you downsize

Before downsizing it’s essential to decide which items you can donate, sell or recycle. An inventory could help you get organised and decide which belongings you need to take with you. Here’s an example of the things you might need to leave behind:

  • Living areas: Throw away broken items that you’ve been meaning to repair but never did, and recycle old cell phones and other electronics. Check if your furniture will fit in your new home and decide what you’d like to sell for some extra cash.

  • Kitchen: Get rid of decorative items as well as old mugs or duplicate kitchen tools and expired pantry items.

  • Home office: Give away old magazines or books, as well as extra office supplies.

  • Bedroom: Declutter your bedroom, donating any extra or worn-out bedding as well as unused or ill-fitting clothes that you don’t wear anymore.

  • Bathroom: Throw away hotel toiletries, worn out towels or expired medication.

Make sure you don’t throw away any important papers such as a marriage licence, medical records and insurance policies as well as items with sentimental value.

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