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Downsizing to a cheaper home does not make you a failure; it is actually a pretty smart move

Downscaling can offer the same lifestyle as a freestanding home, but in a smaller, more manageable, and affordable space. Picture: Francesca Tosolini/Unsplash

Downscaling can offer the same lifestyle as a freestanding home, but in a smaller, more manageable, and affordable space. Picture: Francesca Tosolini/Unsplash

Published Jun 10, 2022

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It is no secret that many homeowners are battling to meet their home loan repayments each month.

If you are one of them, you could consider selling your current home and downscaling to one that will cost you less; it does not change your homeowner status, and it will take away some a lot of financial stress.

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Downsizing is a move that should not only be viewed in terms of affordability, but appreciated for the convenience and benefits a smaller property will offer.

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There is also the added advantage of downscaling sellers being able to buy in the same market, says Stephen Cohen, Dogon agent on the Atlantic Seaboard.

Downsizing is not failure

Downscaling has become a global trend and homeowners going this route should not see themselves as failures, he notes, citing himself as a prime example.

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“Having semigrated from Johannesburg, where I had a fairly large home, to Cape Town 11 years ago, it became apparent that I certainly could not afford to have the same type of home in the Cape as to the one I had in Joburg.

“I found a very small 90-year-old home and, with the help of a brilliant architect and clever budgeting, the property was converted into a practical and manageable home with a small garden for my pets and a plunge pool. I do not miss being bound to weekends of working in the garden and constantly paying for maintenance, upkeep, repairs, and high bond repayments.”

Still, knowing when it’s time to say goodbye to that sentimental property can be a difficult and emotional decision, acknowledges Craig Mott, Western Cape sales manager for the Rawson Property Group.

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“Downscaling isn’t just about selling well and buying a more affordable property. It’s also about finding a home that fulfills your needs during the next chapter of your life. So be positive and start thinking about a bright and happy future to avoid being depressed over the financial side of downscaling.”

Start planning a fulfilling future

When searching for a suitable property you should make it a fun and positive experience for the entire family, Mott suggests.

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“Create a property checklist together; list what you and your family will need; and make a list of the must-haves, deal-breakers, and non-negotiables that you’re looking for in a property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, how important off-street parking is, and whether you need a garden for your pet.

“Once you have determined the must-haves, you can narrow down your search even more.”

Creative and visual people could also create a mood board to pin their goals and visual elements of their new home. These activities, he says, seem to be therapeutic and will help everyone connect and get excited about moving.

Today there are so many choices in finding a suitable, smaller home, townhouse, simplex, or an apartment, Cohen says. Depending on the age group, there are also very modern and trendy retirement villages that are designed for community living and have become extremely popular.

“Disposing of furniture and household items can also be of great benefit to family members, or charitable institutions.”

Don’t assume you have to live in an apartment or complex

Downscaling does not mean you are forced to abandon the free-standing home lifestyle you are accustomed to either. Cohen says there are many options available today, where architects are specifically designing and catering to the public who want the luxury and the privacy of small manageable homes.

“There are cottages and freestanding simplex units – freehold and not sectional title – that offer an easy lock-up and go lifestyle.”

Mott agrees: “There are free-standing homes – two- and three-bedrooms, that are smaller and more manageable. It all depends on affordability and whether you prefer living in a free-standing home or sectional title unit.”

You do not necessarily have to give up your pets

If you opt for a sectional title home then check what is allowed. Each apartment/estate/complex has its own code of conduct by which residents are expected to live, Mott says.

“Some apartment blocks/complexes are pet friendly and even stipulate the type of pet and up to how many you are allowed.”

If you do have pets you are moving with you must inform your real estate agent so that they can find you a pet-friendly home.

Echoing this, Cohen says it is important to ask the agent for a copy of the sectional title rules, to ensure that pets are actually allowed. Sometimes the wrong information is given and this could be a traumatic situation.

“Very often, one can get written permission from the chairman or the managing agent allowing you to keep a small pet.”

If you are considering downscaling, start your search for a smaller, more manageable home here.

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