Downsizing is becoming increasingly popular amongst those who have larger properties but no longer need the space that they provide. More and more people are looking to release the equity that they have built up in their old family homes, and the reasons for doing so can be wide and varied.

Some may want to downsize so that they can have a little extra money for retirement and make their lives more comfortable, while others simply do not want to rattle around a big home once their children have left. Another reason that people decide to move to a smaller property is so that they can help their children get on to the property ladder themselves, giving them some much needed financial assistance that will allow them to buy a family home of their own.

Whatever the reason, many of those who are looking to downsize have questions about the process, so we thought it was the right time to produce our very own guide to downsizing. Here we will look at some of the most frequently asked questions and then give you a step-by-guide to downsizing in a stress-free way.

Let’s get started with some of the most common questions:

When should I consider downsizing?

Naturally, the decision to downsize is largely dependent upon your own personal circumstances and situation, so putting a definitive age on when you should move is an impossible task. However, many are surprised at just how early in life the majority of people choose to downsize.

Most people opt to downsize before they hit retirement age. This may seem early to some people, but the common consensus is that the earlier you get the move out of the way, the better. Doing so makes sense when you consider the fact that moving home is widely regarded as being one of the most stressful things we ever have to do in our lifetimes. Moving when you are well into your 70s or 80s is not going to be as easy as making the move when you are 65 and under, so planning to move when you are younger does certainly have its merits.

Then there’s also the money factor. Unless you have absolutely no doubt that property prices in your area are set to skyrocket - such as those along the new Crossrail route, for example – why wait? Selling up and drawing out the equity from your home now will allow you to live a better lifestyle and give you the freedom to do and enjoy all of those things that you have worked so hard for all of your life.

Does downsizing have to involve moving miles away?

Not necessarily, but moving further afield may free up more equity, especially if you are currently based in an area that is at the top of the market. However, money isn’t everything, so you should think about the move practically as much as you do financially. Will the extra money that you get from moving away from the region that you have become accustomed to be worth the distance that you’ll be putting between yourself and your family and friends? 

Another consideration is mobility. Moving away from where you are now may mean that you will be thinking about that dream cottage in the countryside, but is that really going to be practical as you age? Getting around can become an issue as you move into your later years, so ensuring that the area you are thinking of moving to has adequate transport links and sufficient nearby amenities is essential. Think about things such as the proximity to the local shops, doctor’s surgery and anything else you may need before you make a concrete decision about where you are going to move to. 

Are retirement homes a better option than buying a private property? 

Again, this is very much a personal decision. Many will find the prospect of having a ready-made community an attractive proposition, while others may find having a warden on hand comforting. Only you know what is right for you. However, there is something that everyone who is considering a retirement property should do, and that is to check out all of the details fully before committing.

Many retirement properties come with a long list of stipulations and caveats that can be somewhat confusing. Knowing exactly what you are signing up for is essential, so get help if you feel as though you do not fully understand the charges or terms and conditions laid out in the documentation. Places such as Citizens Advice can help, but even your own family members or friends may be able to shed a little light on things, giving you the peace of mind that you need to proceed.

What happens to all of my belongings when I downsize?

Moving into a smaller home may mean that you’ll have to decide which possessions you are going to keep and which ones you are willing to let go. This can be stressful in itself to some people, so preparation is key as knowing that your old stuff is going to a good home will alleviate some of the anxiety associated with parting with certain items.

Work out what will fit in your new property and then begin to dispense of whatever is left over. These days you have more options than ever to get rid of things like old furniture, so consider the likes of eBay, Gumtree or even Freecycle if you want to do someone a good turn by giving your items away.

Step-by-step guide to downsizing

Now that we have taken a look at some of the more frequently asked questions surrounding downsizing, it’s time to go through the actual process itself:

1. Ensure that downsizing is right for you

First things first, make sure that downsizing is really what you want to do. Give this some serious thought, as changing your mind after the deed is done is not really an option. You need to be 100% certain that selling your home and moving somewhere smaller is what you really want to do.

2. Start looking at smaller properties

Give yourself a head start by exploring different areas and property sizes. Look into retirement properties if you feel that they will suit your needs and get a feel for what is on the market at present. 

3. Calculate costs 

Working out how much your move is going to cost is essential if you want to maximise your return from the equity that you will be releasing once you sell your home. Ask local solicitors for quotes and remember to take into account any ongoing fees that you may incur, especially if you are moving into a retirement property or a flat that may require you to pay service charges and/or ground rent.

4. Put your property on the market

Now things are really beginning to move! Find yourself a reputable estate agent such as Petty Son and Prestwich and get yourself on the market ASAP once you have made the decision to downsize.

5. Start seriously looking for your new home

Now that you have done your groundwork, you’ll have a better idea of the sort of property you will want to move into. Start your search now in order to get the right home at the right price.

6. Organise your belongings

With things moving fast it can be easy to leave stuff to the last minute, but don’t fall into this trap. Get your possessions in order and start to split them into two groups – keep and discard. Work out who you are going to give your unwanted items to and arrange for them to be collected as soon as possible. This will help lower the stress when moving day comes around. 

Although you may need to part with a significant amount of stuff, make sure that you really can do without it. There’s nothing worse than letting something go and then regretting it later on.

7. Move in and begin the next chapter in your life

Once you have received the offer that you want and found a property that you love, there’s only one thing left to do – move in!


We are always happy to help here at Petty Son and Prestwich and we’re only a phone call away if you need us. So, if you would like to explore the possibility of downsizing your property, give one of our offices a ring today:

Wanstead office – 020 8989 2091 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Buckhurst Hill office - 020 8504 5403 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Guide to downsizing your home

Article By: John Wagstaff

As Petty’s MD, John steers the ship. He is, however, first to admit that the team around him run the show, and he’s incredibly proud of each and every one of them. Sporty and studious, caring and loyal, John is a father of two wonderful children (and Cooper the dog).

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