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Downsizing? Here's a quick 'to do' list

Published - 23 April 2024

Are you cleaning rooms that rarely get used now that the kids have flown the nest? Or perhaps finding the idea of a stroll and a coffee more attractive than the thought of weekends spent mowing lawns and trimming hedges?

Along with some other Australians in, or approaching, retirement you may be mulling over the benefits of a smaller, lower maintenance home, which doesn’t take half the weekend to maintain and can be locked up and left when your next big holiday rolls around.

If so, the downsizer scheme may appeal to you.

A financial incentive to downsize

  • The downsizer scheme was initially introduced in the 2017-18 Federal Budget
  • Its aim was to allow eligible Australians 65 years and older to make a one-off contribution to their super account worth up to $300,000 (or $600,000 per couple) after selling their home, outside of the normal super contribution limits.
  • From 1 July 2022, the minimum age for the downsizer contribution was reduced to 60 years
  • From 1 January 2023, that age limit was reduced to 55 years.1

If you are contemplating downsizing, here are a few things to add to your to-do list.

1. The great garage sale

A smaller place can mean much less room for all the stuff you have acquired over the decades, from scuba diving equipment that’s been mouldering in the garage since 2003 to the second fridge that’s only switched on at Christmas. A rigorous decluttering program may help you present your home for sale more attractively and result in fewer items to shift and store when moving day rolls around.

Furniture and bric-a-brac could be sold via Gumtree or garage sales, for example, or if you prefer to donate, Vinnies, Lifeline and other charities may be willing to collect large items in good condition, which are suitable for resale. Giving yourself plenty of time to complete your clear-out, or undertaking it in stages, a room at a time, can make the process less arduous.

2. Fido and Fluffy

If you’re a pet owner who’s planning to swap the backyard for an inner-city courtyard or balcony, you may want to check that any prospective perch can accommodate your furry friends comfortably – and legally. It can be common for body corporates in apartment and townhouse complexes to prohibit dogs over a certain size, or to require residents to seek permission before bringing cats and dogs onto the premises. If re-homing your pets is not practical or too much of a wrench emotionally, it may make sense to postpone your move until after their natural passing.

3. On the buses

Always been a two-car household? Moving to more compact quarters may be an opportune time to consider whether you could get by comfortably with just one set of wheels. If the new home is in a more central location where public transport options abound, this might be an easy way to cut outgoings without compromising on convenience or lifestyle.

4. New neighbourhood

People who have spent many years at the same address are generally used to the same shops and service providers. Downsizing out of area can mean having to find a new butcher, baker and grocery store, potentially along with a replacement doctor, dentist and other healthcare professionals (depending on your moving distance).

5. Return to sender

While the postman calls less frequently for many of us in the digital era, it’s important to make sure regular correspondents and service providers know you’ve moved. Mail redirection by Australia Post can give you some breathing space to ensure you’ve provided your new contact details to everyone who needs them.

There are plenty of other things to consider of course – this is just a list to get you started.

Want to make a downsizer contribution?

Follow the steps on our Downsizer super contributions page.