By 2033, it is estimated that there will be 3.3 million people aged 85 and over in the UK. Many of these, and indeed people much younger, could see a much improved quality of life by downsizing to a smaller, more manageable property but are scared to do so given the complexity of the entire process. Based on years of experience, these are a few of our tips on how to minimise stress when downsizing in your later years.
Downsizing And Leaving The Family Home Behind
Moving house can be a daunting and emotional process at the best of times, but when you’ve lived in a property for a long period of time, it can be almost overwhelming. Family homes are full to the brim with treasured memories and it can be incredibly painful to let go. To help ease the downsizing process we would recommend that you begin preparing for the move well in advance, preferably with someone to help you declutter and prioritise your belongings. In doing so, you can take your time without feeling rushed or unnecessarily stressed. Sorting through possessions is likely to be an emotional experience and it is important that you take your time when re-living those memories.
From a practical standpoint, drawing up a floor plan of the new property can be enormously helpful and many estate agents will include one on their property brochure. In particular, it will help you make difficult decisions around furniture. Downsizing inevitably means that not everything is going to fit and it often doesn’t make financial sense to try and find a house around the dimensions of all your current furniture – although we have been asked to do just that in the past! We recommend that you try and give/sell your unwanted furniture to family, friends or charities, so that it will be appreciated by someone else. If you truly can’t bear to part with some of your larger possessions, storage is always an option but this can become expensive.
A good property finder should be able to provide you with recommendations of reliable removal companies and companies who help with decluttering including those who have proven experience in working with the elderly.
Moving To An Unfamiliar Area
If you’re moving to an unfamiliar area or to a town after having lived out in the country for many years, the change can feel very intimidating. Before you start your property search, it is important to take the time to choose the right location for you in the long term.
Depending on your level of mobility, downsizing to a town or city can improve access to a wide range of facilities. Helped by better public transport links, you may well be able to live a more independent lifestyle, visiting local shops and attending events as you please. Additionally, urban areas tend to offer a wider variety of activities and opportunities to help you build new social networks and make new friends.
We offer an area familiarisation service in which we can give you a guided tour of your new area, based on years of experience and strong local knowledge. From locating your nearest healthcare providers to working out the bus and train timetables, we will tell you everything you want to know and help ease the transition.
Time Travelling to Look at Properties
For anyone moving home, one of the biggest commitments is finding the time to view potential new properties – often multiple times. This is undoubtedly more difficult the less mobile you are or if you no longer drive. If you are fortunate to have family or friends to help that will ease the strain and they may be able to do some of the initial legwork for you. However, if that is not an option it may be worth considering using a property finder to view properties on your behalf and provide a shortlist of a select few that come closest to your requirements. This can save a lot of time searching unproductively and also provide an independent opinion about the options available to you.
Arranging New Utilities
Re-arranging contracts with multiple utility providers can appear incredibly confusing and complex. If you want to move the contract with your existing suppliers we recommend notifying them about 2 weeks in advance in order for any issues to be resolved prior to the actual move. However you will still need to let them know your opening meter readings taken on the day you move in. Companies to consider include gas, electricity, water, internet, telephone and TV.
Other key organisations to notify include the Council, DVLA, your GP, and all your banks and insurance providers. Remember to redirect your mail with the Post Office and leave behind a forwarding address at your current property.
Whilst this may all seem to perplexing to be worth the effort, it will save hassle in the end. Downsizing your home almost certainly means downsizing your bills and you can make significant savings. Furthermore, we’re here to help. Within our settling-in support service we can either assist you with these arrangements or recommend highly trusted professionals from our extensive local networks.
County Homesearch have extensive experience in helping elderly clients downsize. Contact us on 0333 939 8300 to discuss how we can help you.