The family home holds a lot of fond memories for most people, especially the parents. It may be where their children took their first step or where they started school. It may have been the venues for countless birthday, Christmas gatherings and family dinners.
But what happens when the kids grow up and leave? Some may get jobs in other cities, or marry and move to their own home to start their own families, or simply move out to be more independent – then the parents are left in the big home all by themselves. It’s a very common journey for many families, where after years of living in a busy noisy house together, the parents are now suddenly empty nesters. If the idea of living and maintaining the family home seems like too much as you get older, then maybe it’s time to consider downsizing.
Many Australians may be reluctant to downsize because of how it may affect their pensions. However, now appears to be a better time than ever to consider moving to a smaller residence with the Federal Government taking action to break down barriers that discourage older Australians from downsizing. Those who are retired are set to gain new incentives to save the what they earn when selling the family home with the introduction of new rules to the pension asset test and caps on superannuation. Another option that is being looked into is allowing some of the sale proceeds to be put into their super accounts so that older Australians’ pensions aren’t burdened.
Downsizing can mean different things to different people. The essence of it is going from a bigger home to a smaller place – whether that be an apartment, independent living unit or retirement village. There are even nursing homes that are adopting this idea and putting it into their facilities to allow residents their independence while still offering them care. There are many benefits of leaving the family home for something a little more cozy.
Keeping a bigger house tidy can get harder as you get older, especially as children or other relatives who live with you move out and there is less help. If it is just you and your partner, do you really need 3-4 bedrooms in the house? And keeping the bathrooms and kitchen clean can be quite a hassle too. Smaller or shared spaces are always easier to maintain. And when you are spending less time maintaining your home, you have more time for yourself and other things you’d rather do.
Aside from the less cleaning, there is something relaxing about having less things, less clutter and less to worry about. Having fewer possessions, while still keeping a select number of treasured items, such as certain photographs, furniture and decorative trinkets, can be calming. There is also a comfort in having shops, friends and care option all close at hand in a more compact community – never needing to worry about distance to access things.
As opposed to staying in a larger home where you may need assistance from family or professionals to maintain it, downsizing into an apartment is a great way to keep a person’s independence. There are some care facilities where you get your own independent bedroom and bathroom but share spaces like a kitchen or living room where they can feel at home and do certain tasks for themselves.
Living in a big house alone, or just with a partner can feel isolating. Moving into a smaller apartment or residence, where neighbours are in closer proximity, is a great way to socialise. You may even find other people like you, who are in similar life places. Your neighbours, though living independently from you, can become like a second family to you. This is especially true if you share space like a recreational area or nearby shops.
The transition from being parents who are busy with work and family duties, who have to care for others, to being empty nesters does not have to a be sad one. This can be an opportunity to have a new beginning in a new place, and focus on you.