“While it can be a huge undertaking, downsizing offers many rewards,” says Mike Greeff, CEO of Greeff Properties, an exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate.
Reasons for downsizing might be practical; from the need for less responsibility due to advancing age or ill health, to an attempt to save money, live in a smaller space once children have left home, or perhaps a career relocation has offered an opportunity to downscale.
“Practical reasons aside, many people aspire to downsize based on the expectations they harbour about a perceived new lifestyle,” says Greeff, adding that while it is usually possible to change your behavior in order to live comfortably in a smaller space, or in a new and different environment, if your true needs are not met by the move, you’re likely to feel dissatisfied.
His advice is: plan your downsizing based not on the ideal you have of yourself, but on the actuality of who you are, and the nature of your fundamental needs.
“You might dream of living in a forest cabin in a remote spot, but ask yourself if you are truly able to live as a hermit far from amenities and conveniences all of the time. You may want a tiny home in a small coastal, or country town, but in reality, is it too far for friends and family to visit regularly, and will that become a problem,” asks Greeff.
He advises opening a dialogue with friends, family or colleagues and discussing your reasons for downsizing.
“Include the issues and circumstances you do not enjoy in your current home and outline why and how down scaling will change, and /or improve your lifestyle,” says Greeff, adding that you should voice as many pros and cons about both your current and envisaged future scenarios.
“Be brutally honest and you will invariably find that voicing your likes, dislikes, hopes and fears about staying where you are, or about downsizing can help to reveal things to yourself you weren’t conscious of. When you become aware of problems or pitfalls which may lie ahead, you can avoid rash or ill-conceived decisions,” explains Greeff.
Pros of downsizing might include a better cash flow, more time for leisure, if you’re not cleaning a pool and mowing a huge lawn, or lock-and-go and security for peace of mind when travelling. Cons might be: less privacy, having to deal with a body corporate, not being allowed to keep pets and having less room for guests.
If you’re serious about downsizing, Greeff advises that you begin with a serious decluttering effort.
“Once you have ridden yourself of unused, unwanted and unnecessary items, you will be in a better position to decide what kind of accommodation to downsize to,” says Greeff. “If you don’t dispense with enough junk, you might fall into the trap of seeking a space to accommodate all of your stuff and not necessarily looking for an ideal space that could work wonderfully for you.”
“One way of proving to yourself that you can live happily with less is to place unwanted items in rooms in half of your house and lock the doors to those rooms. Then see if you are happy to live with fewer things in a smaller space. Many people are surprised at how little they actually miss or require on a daily basis,” says Greeff.
Downsizing, is however, a huge undertaking and it’s normal to feel excited, confused and overwhelmed at the prospect.
“It can be useful to get some personal testimonies from those who’ve been there, so read books, magazine articles and blogs by people who have downsized and try to picture yourself in their shoes,” says Greeff.
“Remember also that downsizing affects others in your life and this can be a positive thing. Anyone who has had to pack up the home of an ageing, infirm or recently departed relative will know that decluttering, and simplifying your way of life can be the greatest gift you give to those who will one day survive you,” advises Greeff.