When working life is over, smaller can often be a better option.
As you head into retirement, where you choose to live will be one of the biggest decisions you make.
The vast majority of retirees will opt to stay in their existing homes for as long as possible but others are considering an array of choices. These can include downsizing, shifting to a favourite holiday location or even moving in with family members.
“The decision to downsize can often involve moving away from an area where people have spent most of their lives,” Eldridge says.
“Sometimes in their decision to downsize, they move and so they lose their community.
“That’s not to say moving to a new area is bad but it’s a decision that needs a lot of consideration.
“Will you be able to make friends in your new area? Are there things you like to do there, including activities that you can sign up to? Will you be able to get around if you don’t have a car? Are the essential services that you need still there?”
One Sydney resident who wanted to downsize but was keen to stay close to her old stamping ground is Valerie Cooksey, 75.
She recently made the decision to sell the North Curl home she had lived in for 46 years.
A long-time northern beaches resident, Cooksey lived on her own for 11 years after her husband died and felt the maintenance of her 530-square-metre block was becoming too much for her.
“You try to keep it looking tidy and I’d think, ‘Damn this, I’ve had this,’ ” she says of her frustration. Cooksey bought a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with a study in a new seniors’ residential village, Oceangrove, at Dee Why.
“I didn’t want to leave the area, I’ve been here all my life,” she says. She likes the fact the development is for over-55s.
“If you go to a [regular] unit, you don’t know who you’re going to have next door: people having parties and all that sort of thing.”
Cooksey’s single-storey brick house was bought by a young family for $1.13 million through Peter Pagliaro of McGrath Estate Agents. She then spent $650,000 on her new unit. She used some of the money left over to buy new furniture after giving away most of the pieces she had before.
“I just seemed to have so much stuff and I thought, ‘I really don’t need all of this,’ ” she says.
“Plus I really didn’t have enough room for all the things I had.” Selling and moving were very stressful, Cooksey says.
“I don’t think I could do it again,” she says. “People have said death, divorce and moving are the three most stressful things.”
Although Cooksey will miss her former neighbours, she is now free from the maintenance of a large house and will spend more time at the movies, shopping and catching up with her sister.
Close to it all, just out the back
THE opportunity was one Cheryl Winn couldn’t pass up. She had been wanting to downsize and when the chance to buy a property with her daughter and son-in-law arose, she took it.
She sold her Heathcote home of 30 years and bought property in Kirrawee with her family, where she lives in a studio at the back.
“I was living in the house by myself, so I needed to downsize eventually,” she says. “We found the right place and decided to buy it.”
She says setting up house with her family had not been one of her first downsizing options but it has worked out well.
“I’m closer to work [at Miranda], closer to everything,” she says. “When I was living in Heathcote, I overlooked the bush and I overlook the bush now.”
Winn never wanted to move too far from the Sutherland shire, particularly since she wanted to stay close to her young grandson.
“I didn’t want to retire out of Sydney because I didn’t want to go away from my family,” she says. “My father did that; I’m not doing that.”
At 59, Winn has not retired but is preparing to do so. Before the global financial crisis hit, she had planned to finish working by age 62. However, after losing money in super, the ANZ teller and retirement banking specialist has pushed back her plans another three years.
Winn’s employer has a flexible work policy for older staff members and she has thought about switching to part-time work.
However, she has recently returned from Bali and wants to travel more in the next six years.
“If I want to travel, then I’m going to need to work full time,” she says.