How to downsize in South Africa

 ·21 Jan 2024

South Africans approaching retirement often consider downsizing, but the process requires careful planning and consideration.

“Moving home is a significant life event, and downsizing, in particular, requires thoughtful deliberation. It involves not only physical relocation but also an emotional journey of parting with cherished memories and possessions,” Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts South Africa.

With this in mind, Gray provided the following tips for a seamless downsizing experience:

Assessing Lifestyle Needs

South Africans should envision their retirement lifestyle; this includes where they live.

“Whether you prefer an urban setting with easy access to amenities or a quieter suburban or rural environment, align your downsizing choice with your aspirations, hobbies, and social preferences.”

Right-sizing Your Space

Downsizing is not just reducing space; it’s finding the right space.

Potential downsisers should review their daily routines and essential features and consider adaptable spaces to maximise functionality.

Financial Considerations

Downsizing often has financial benefits, such as decreased bond payments and utility costs.

“However, conduct a comprehensive assessment of potential relocation costs and market conditions. Consult with financial advisors to ensure alignment with long-term financial goals.”

Decluttering and Streamlining Possessions

Embrace the opportunity to declutter and streamline possessions. Identify items with sentimental value, distinguish genuine needs, and consider the downsizing process as a chance for a fresh start.

Adapting to Low-Maintenance Living

Downsizers should embrace the lower-maintenance lifestyle.

Homes requiring minimal upkeep, such as those with a smaller yard, should be prioritised.

Accessible Design for Aging in Place

Ageing is inevitable, and the house should have design elements that support ageing in place.

Single-story layouts, wide doorways and step-free entrances are a good idea.

Proximity to Healthcare Services

Having healthcare services near a home provides a downsizer with security and prompt addressing of medical needs if they arise.

Embracing Community Connection

“Downsizing doesn’t mean sacrificing community connection. Seek neighbourhoods with vibrant social scenes, community events, and amenities aligned with your interests.”

Planning for Long-Term Comfort

Investing in quality furnishings, comfortable seating, and future-proofing the home with age-friendly modifications can ensure longer-term comfort.

Acknowledging Emotional Considerations

Downsizing often involves letting go, leading to a difficult emotional journey. Seeking help from family, friends, and professionals can help with the emotional aspect of downsizing.

Gray said that downsizing often starts a new chapter with compelling advantages.

“The financial benefits include freeing up a considerable amount of money each month, allowing for investments in retirement funds or cherished family holidays,” said Gray.

“It also provides more time to enjoy life, as compact homes generally require less maintenance.”

Read: The top holiday home hotspots in South Africa

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