How to downsize a lifetime of memories

May 10, 2016

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In 1950, the average Australian home was less than 1,000 square feet (93m2) in size. Today, this figure has more than doubled, and Australians now have the biggest average house size in the world.

This trend is starting to reverse to a more manageable size, with an aging population, changes to household formation, and affordability considerations. Downsizing – some say, “smartsizing” – options, such as townhomes, are becoming an increasingly desirable option.

“The tide is turning on townhome investors from young first-home buyers who don’t want a huge home, to the influential baby boomer wanting to downsize for the convenience of a lock-up and leave home base,” says Maxwell Shifman, Chief Operating Officer for Intrapac Property, one of Australia’s most respected property developers.

Intrapac Property has responded to this trend by incorporating townhome designs into their developments, including at Somerfield, located in Keysborough in the South-East of Melbourne.

So, how does one downsize a lifetime of memories and become enthusiastic about moving into a smaller home when you’ve become used to plenty of space to hoard all your belongings?

The trick is to consider the move as an opportunity to clean up, and increase you spare time with less stress as you maintain a smaller home and garden. Upon moving in, the lifestyle benefits will be obvious.

Here are Intrapac Property’s six tips on how to get the most out of moving to a smaller home:

Try selling your home with the furniture included.

For example, it’s unlikely the furniture from a big French Provincial-style home will suit, or fit, inside a modern style townhome. This will also give you the chance to refresh the look of your home, which may have been unchanged for a decade as you went about a hectic family and work life.

Enlist an interior decorator.

Downsizing is a good time to invite an interior decorator to assist with making the most of the items you have. They can often suggest a clever refurbishment or change of colour to bring things back to life – and purchase key pieces to make you excited about the move.

Gift treasured items to family and friends.

Pieces you think nothing of may have sentimental meaning to close family and friends, so downsizing is a good time to offer these pieces of your furniture to loved ones, instead of selling them to a stranger. You’ll get the added bonus of being able to see your beloved pieces from time to time when you visit them and know you’ll always be remembered as they are used by new family members.

Consider how you use your rooms.

In a larger home, you may have been able to have a separate guest room and home office, but in a smaller home, you may want to think about multifunctional rooms or using smaller spaces in the place of rooms – for example, a study nook or desk along a hallway, rather than a whole room as a home office. Having two master bedrooms is also a nice way of making a townhome suitable for having older children come home to stay.

Get clever with storage.

Some people can live with a laundry under the stairs, while others need a large separate laundry to feel their house is a home. Consider how you live and what’s important to you, then build storage around these rooms. For example, a keen cook might need a separate butler’s pantry for extra storage, but a cyclist might prefer more room in a garage or a shed, so consider your interests and the size of things you need to store.

Declutter using technology.

Moving is a great time to consider whether you need to keep those 25 year-old tax returns, business documents or photographs. If you can’t let go completely, look at whether things can be digitized and discarded, rather than taking up additional dead space in your home. The same goes for old home videos, CDs and DVDs.

“In 2020, Australia’s median age will be almost 40. In 1980 it was just 29,” explains Shifman. “Some 1 in 4 people will soon be aged over 60, so the need for suitable homes for downsizing into is only going to increase. Moving to a townhome, and releasing some wealth from the family home to assist with retirement, is great option that many will consider over the coming decade.”

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