Choosing to downsize your home to a retirement community as you grow older can offer a host of benefits: living with like-minded people, easier accessibility, improved security and greater peace of mind that should your needs change a support network is in place.

However, despite the long-term practical advantages to downsizing your home, there is no doubt that can be both an emotional wrench to leave memories behind and a logistical challenge to make the move. Residents and staff from a number of Anchor's care homes and retirement villages with personal experience have helped us gather together some top tips for those moving into a smaller property. In particular all say that downsizing your life does not mean people have to leave their favourite possessions behind, it simply gives you the opportunity to select the best bits or most sentimental items to take with you on your move.

Top tips for downsizing - How to downsize your home effectively

  1. Moving out of a home in which you have brought up a family can feel like you are leaving fond memories behind. This does not need to be the case when you start to downsize for retirement. Rather than taking boxes of drawings, school reports, childrens' clothes and treasured-photographs to your new home, consider splitting these items by child or grandchild and making 'memory boxes' which can be given to each individual relative as a memento.
  2. Before auctioning off furniture, speak to family members to find out if there are any particular items which they would be keen to take. Take photographs of any furniture or ornaments which you feel you may miss but for which you may no longer have space for when you move home. If the choice of what to keep and what to get rid of seems overwhelming when downsizing, storage containers can be hired at a reasonable rate, allowing you to disperse items to family, friends and charities in your own time. Some items can be donated to the retirement village you are moving to – for example at Bishopstoke Park books can be donated to the library and gardening tools to the village shed.
  3. Make sure you are aware of how much storage space is included in your new home – it may be more than you think. At Anchor we appreciate that our customers are often moving from large family homes and have become accustomed to spacious accommodation. We have designed the rooms at our new developments with this in mind. For example, at our new Hampshire Lakes development in Yateley some rooms include floor to ceiling wardrobes in which we maximise storage space with hanging shoe racks, pull-out drawers and extra shelving.
  4. Relish not having a large garden after downsizing. Our residents allow the Anchor gardeners to maintain the grounds, which can be used for walks, reading and family picnics, while still upholding their own small oasis on their balcony or terrace. Hanging plants, potted shrubs and garden furniture can be added to balconies and terraces to create ideal locations for having a drink and watching the world go by, without necessitating laborious gardening. We also have a kitchen garden area in many of our properties where people can grow their own produce.
  5. Most importantly when downsizing for retirement, consider the opportunities which are opening up with the relocation, rather than dwelling on what you perceive you might be losing. Anchor's retirement villages are active communities where the residents enjoy exercising in the gym, singing in the village choir, discussing literature at the book club and walking in the grounds as well as occasionally taking time to relax in the spa!

Making the downsize move is a great opportunity to take up a previously enjoyed pastime or a new hobby, learn new skills and make new friends.

Howard Nankivell is Housing Operations Director at Anchor

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