10 reasons to downsize your house

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

More South Africans are realising that bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to homeownership, and are choosing to downsize.

Most of us will downsize our homes at some point in our lives. One of the most common reasons for choosing to move into something smaller is because the children have grown up and moved out, but it’s certainly not the only reason.

More and more people seem to be choosing to scale down long before their children fly the nest, and we decided to take a look at the top 10 reasons for this:

1. Cost.

Running a large home is expensive. Electricity and water costs are generally higher and are a drain on finances. Garden services, maintaining a swimming pool and security costs all add up and could make the idea of living in a smaller property (particularly if the home is in a gated estate or is part of a sectional title scheme) more attractive. Those who have lived in a particular property for an extended period may well find they can sell up and buy a smaller home for cash and enjoy being bond-free.

2. The property is simply too big.

Some couples seem to rattle around their enormous homes and while it’s great to have a spare bedroom or four, running such a home isn’t only more expensive, it’s also time-consuming given the amount of cleaning and maintenance required.

3. Retirement.

This is by far the most common reason folk decide it’s time to downsize. People are living longer, healthier lives and many use their retirement years to travel, choosing to downsize either to fund their wanderings or to improve their overall daily standard of living.

4. Education costs.

Tertiary education is expensive and it’s not unusual for parents to downsize in order to cover their children’s university or college fees.

5. Opting for a simpler life.

Downscaling generally means less clutter and usually allows for more free time. Moving into a smaller home forces one to do a thorough clear out, getting rid of any unnecessary items. Smaller homes, particularly sectional title properties, have smaller gardens (or in the case of an apartment, no garden at all) and are usually simpler to maintain.

6. Debt.

Downsizing can be a viable way of reducing or better controlling debt. Selling a larger, more expensive home can help cut costs significantly.

7. Buying a second home.

The idea of buying a second investment property when downsizing is appealing to many. Second homes are a great way to supplement one’s income and while the property may not initially pay for itself, the money earned from rent will help pay the bond in the short term and will, at some stage, turn a profit.

8. Breakups.

Unfortunately marriages or partnerships do fail and homes need to be sold. Although it may seem to be the end of the world, it doesn’t have to be the end of a home owning dream. Buying something smaller that’s more suited to a single lifestyle is an option if profits from the sale allow.

9. Crime.

Living in a large, family home as we get older comes with a number of challenges and unfortunately crime is one. Sectional title and estate properties are generally more secure than a freestanding home and the decision to move may be influenced by rising levels of crime. Even if you do feel secure, adequate home security costs can be high and it may be less expensive to share these costs with neighbours as opposed to going it alone.

10. Going ‘green’.

There are those who downsize because of environmental concerns. A smaller home not only reduces their carbon footprint, it also helps to cut down on energy use.

It’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily cheaper to downsize, and anyone considering making this move should take all costs into consideration before making a final decision.

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