A Guide to Downsizing by Liz Storey

3rd November 2023

A Guide to Downsizing by Liz Storey

Once, my husband and I lived in a sprawling six-bedroom house in Southgate. However, when our children left the nest, maintaining such a large home became a significant drain on both our time and finances.

The logical solution was downsizing, but the very thought of it filled us with dread. Despite our initial apprehension, we embarked on this journey, and here's how we managed it:

Firstly, we contemplated our future living location. While rural or coastal areas may appeal to some, the importance of being close to friends and family grew more apparent as we aged. Realistically, expecting frequent visits from loved ones when living too far away might not be practical. We decided to stay local.

The next consideration was the size of our new property. I cherished having a garden, but we opted for no more than a two-bedroom home. If our guests couldn't be accommodated in a spare bedroom, there were plenty of B&Bs nearby where they could stay and still spend quality time with us. This choice saved us approximately £50,000 for each extra room we avoided purchasing, which we could use for alternative accommodations for visitors if necessary.

Now, the challenging part was parting with the excess furniture, books, and more.

We started this process approximately one year before our move, allowing us to take it at a comfortable pace:

  • We began by selecting the furniture we wanted to take with us, and the rest was listed for sale on eBay (you could enlist the help of a friend or grandchild if needed). It's crucial to remember that furniture, despite its sentimental value, does not inherently increase in worth. When pricing items, it's often wise to think of a value and then halve it.

  • We reached out to family and friends, offering them items we no longer needed. If they declined, we didn't take it personally, not even when it came to our own children. They often didn't have an interest in items that had cost us a fortune.

  • Unwanted items were donated to the local council, which distributed them to council tenants. Additionally, we listed some items for free on the Gumtree website, and people happily collected them.

  • We decided to replace our beds, seizing the opportunity to acquire new ones with substantial storage space. Our spare bed, for instance, featured ample storage beneath, along with four drawers in the base.

  • As for books, while I appreciated a good read, it turned out that very few people wanted them. We donated paperbacks to charity and reduced our book collection to about 100 volumes. To accommodate them, we invested in IKEA full-height bookcases and gradually filled one alcove with our books.

  • Regarding jewellery, I possessed several pieces I rarely wore. I offered them to my children, and to my surprise, they didn't want many of them. Consequently, I gathered the unwanted pieces and took them to a local jeweller, who compensated me based on their gold weight. With the proceeds, I purchased a lovely pair of earrings that I wear regularly.

  • Clothing was a bit easier to part with; we donated a substantial amount to charity, and strangely, I didn't miss any of it.

  • Sorting through 26 loose picture albums was a project in itself. I began by discarding the less desirable photos and then, over the course of a year, used Photobox to create printed albums containing the oldest family tree photos for our grandchildren. I continue to work on putting together other albums as a hobby.

  • If your husband has a penchant for hoarding "just in case" items, consider getting a shed and kindly request that he doesn't exceed its limits.

  • We disposed of old sheets, towels, spare duvets, etc., and only acquired two new sets when we moved.

  • We contributed our surplus potted plants to the local primary school for their nature garden.

  • Lastly, for everything else, we rented short-term storage, using a garage equipped with open shelves. We spent six months gradually reducing the stored items after our move.

We've never looked back, and we absolutely adore our new home. The proceeds from our sale allowed us to assist our children, and now we have more time and resources for extensive travels.

If you're considering downsizing contact teh team at Anthony Webb to explore your options on 020 8882 7888