Think smaller! A guide to downsizing

Downsizing into a more manageable home can bring huge benefits, like less time spent on maintenance and more time for hobbies, holidays, family and friends – but the idea is also pretty daunting. Breaking it down into steps can make it easier.

Finding the perfect property

Take the time to think about where you want to live in retirement, as this will help you to determine the sort of property you live in. Are you going to stay in the same community, or do you want to be nearer friends and family – or move to the countryside or coast?

If you are considering moving to another area, be sure to spend some time there to check if it’s the right place for you and the kind of lifestyle you want during retirement. If you are moving to be nearer family or friends, communication is key. You don’t want to move only to discover they are planning to leave the area.

What kind of property do you want?

A purpose-built retirement development is a popular choice for downsizers, where things like the maintenance of communal areas, exteriors, and gardens is taken care of. Think about the kind of benefits and services that are right for you. Do you want the latest building specifications in terms of security, heating and soundproofing, for example, or a communal area for socialising? A calendar of social events? Or even an onsite restaurant, or health and beauty salon?

“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.”  Homeowner, McCarthy Stone

Take time to pare down possessions

You didn’t acquire all your belongings overnight, so don’t feel that you must rush when you are sorting through everything. Be prepared to take your time. Deciding what to do with sentimental items, can be difficult, but liberating.

As you go through your home, use a system, such labelling items with a coloured sticker to organise what you are keeping, selling, giving away and throwing out. This will help to keep things organised.

Be ruthless with paperwork, sell excess furniture, condense kitchen equipment and get rid of collections you no longer use.

Five tips for decluttering

  1. Don’t rush it. Take time to reminisce over the items that come down from the loft, so the experience becomes a pleasure rather than a chore.
  2. Many of the pieces of furniture and ornaments you want to get rid of will hold sentimental value for your children and grandchildren, invite them to choose items they’d like to keep.
  3. Start with the rooms you use least, because these hold the items it’ll be easiest to let go of. The sooner you see progress, the more motivated you’ll feel when it comes to tackling the rest of the house.
  4. Furniture that is too big for your new home might be of value at auction; your local sale house can provide an idea of its worth. And many charities will pick up larger pieces to re-purpose for others.
  5. Most of us have a wardrobe or cupboard filled with clothes we simply don’t wear. If you haven’t worn something in the last two years, it’s probably time it went to the charity shop. You can apply the same principal to other belongings.

Making the move

When packing items for moving, use small boxes and label them with as much detail about the contents. This will help no end when moving into your new home, particularly if you find yourself needing to quickly locate something. Don’t forget to clearly label boxes identifying the corresponding room too.

Alternatively, you could use a removal service to help you move. McCarthy Stone’s specialist removals service can help you declutter, pack up your belongings and take them to your new property before carefully unpacking them again. They can even hang your pictures and mirrors, put up shelving and do any other small tasks that’ll make your new retirement apartment feel like home.

McCarthy Stone is the UK’s leading developer of retirement communities offering beautiful retirement properties to rent or for sale. For more information, please visit McCarthy Stone. Or browse McCarthy Stone retirement apartments for sale or rent across the UK.


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14th Mar 2021
Thanks for voting!
Downsizing sounds good but the problem we found was that we wanted fewer rooms but not smaller ones.
We looked at many places in various parts of the country but the only ones with decent sized rooms cost much more than our four bedrooms detached house, often with annual maintenance charges on top. One development came with so many restrictions that we almost ran from it, a couple of years later they have dropped in value by quite a lot.
Eventually, we decided to stay put in a town we love with excellent facilities.

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