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How to find the perfect suburb to downsize in

You’ve raised your children and now they’ve flown the nest to start their own families. All of a sudden you feel like you’re being engulfed by a huge, empty home, and one that takes a lot of time and money to maintain. Maybe it’s time to start considering whether staying there is a good use of your resources, or whether there’s a better option out there, just waiting to be discovered.

It’s likely that you’ll feel a level of sadness at the thought of moving on from your current home. After all, it’s where you’ve created an endless string of memories, however, it’s important to remember that memories stay locked in our minds and can’t be taken away.

So, let’s assume you’re able to push through the sentiment, and downsizing becomes a real consideration; where should you look, and what should you look for?

A range of housing options

Downsizing doesn’t have to mean retirement living or a nursing home; though these will be appealing options to some, based on health, age and interests. Now more than ever, there’s a wide range of housing options available for consideration. You may decide you’d still like a stand-alone home with its own yard; a petite version of what you’re moving on from! This may feel like the least amount of change, and as such will appeal to some downsizers, especially those who enjoy time in the outdoors, pottering in the garden.

Other people will prefer a property such as a townhouse or unit with less rooms to clean, and it’s likely you’ll be on a smaller, subdivided block, potentially with only a courtyard garden to tend to which will free you up to embark on a host of new hobbies or adventures! Then there’s the ultimate downsizer; an apartment with very little to maintain. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, so if it’s something you’re considering, and you’ve not spent a lengthy period in this kind of accommodation, consider renting an apartment for a week or two to see if you like it. And remember, whilst steps might not be a problem now, you need to consider how the future; there’s a reason many downsizers like single storey properties.

An amenity rich landscape

At the moment you’re fit, and here’s hoping you stay that way. Sadly however, the truth is that as we age, aspects of our health may decline, and our day to day needs change; this means we need access to different amenities than we once didn’t. Services you should consider being within a reasonable proximity to may include medical facilities and hospitals, shopping precincts and public transport. Whilst you may drive now and feel perfectly confident, many people report that as they get older, they’re just as happy getting to their destination by bus, train or tram.

Friends and leisure time

Initially when you downsize, you may still be working, but eventually it’s on the cards that you’ll either retire completely, or at least reduce your working hours. This will leave you with more free time than you’ve had in a long time, and you may be wondering how you’ll fill it; not everybody will be drawn to golf or lawn bowls! If you’re someone who enjoys a daily walk, look at the terrain of where you’re moving to; if the hills look slightly daunting now, what will they look like in another 10 years?

Many suburbs have groups that cater for planned activities such as exercise and crafts while others may involve learning a language and some may be based purely on socialising and outings, for example Probus which cites being all about ‘Friendship, Fellowship and Fun in retirement’. You’re never to old to expand your friendship circle, and groups like these are an excellent way to meet a range of interesting like-minded people.

Victoria’s East is bursting with a range of suburbs that meld a variety of housing types with desirable amenities and places to enjoy your leisure time. When investigating your downsizing options take a look at Box Hill, Ringwood, Croydon, Camberwell, Glen Iris, Doncaster, and Mitcham which are all renowned for their transport hubs, their range of shopping precincts and their rich demographics.

Lastly, it was announced in the 2017/2018 budget that older Australians who sell their homes will be able to make a ‘downsizer contribution’ into their superannuation fund, if they meet all requirements. You can read more about eligibility on the ATO website.