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Making the most of your downsizing process

Ben Myers Retirement Living Council
Our guest author Ben Myers from the Retirement Living Council

About 200,000 Australians have made ‘a wise move’ and call a retirement village their home.

They have made the move to a village for many different reasons: because their existing home had become unmanageable and too difficult to maintain; or because they are seeking a more active lifestyle with greater opportunities for social interaction, or because they want to plan for their future and support themselves or their spouse in their retirement years.

While the reasons for moving to a retirement village are varied, the benefits experienced are shared. After people make the move, most people report increased happiness and being able to live independently for longer than people of a similar age who don’t live in a village.

Village residents can free up more time to pursue a great lifestyle, however they wish to – whether it’s a game of cards with friends in the community centre, or a day with the family outside the village, or on that long-desired holiday.

Most people who make the move report afterwards that they wish they had made the move sooner. The delay in moving can often be attributed to uncertainty about how to embark on the moving process.

Last year, the Retirement Living Council established a new website at to provide prospective residents with a wide range of information about retirement living, what a retirement village is, the right questions to ask and some tips on making the move.

Here’s some advice on how you can make the downsizing – or as we prefer to call it, ‘rightsizing’ – process as easy as possible:

Talk early, talk often

Sitting your family down to discuss your plans for retirement can sometimes bring about a little anxiety. But such a significant change in your lifestyle benefits from taking your family on your journey with them. As you start to lock in plans and arrangements, keep everyone updated. If you know that you’ve made the right decision for your life in retirement, they’re almost certain to support you.

Sorting and sharing

The downsizing process creates a great opportunity to sort out your material possessions and decide what comes with you and what won’t. This can be a daunting task but making a list of your ‘must haves’ at the start and breaking the tasks into bite-sized chunks will enable you to methodically go through your items. Be decisive and think about how you can make some items live on through gifting, selling or passing on to family and friends. Many retirement villages will also have storage options – make sure to ask them in your initial inquiries.

Selling your home

Most people will sell their current home before moving into their village home. There are a few decisions you will have to make as part of the process, including choosing an agent, deciding on the sales strategy, and deciding on a price.

A reputable real estate agent will be able to give you plenty of advice on the sales process and negotiate the sale for you. You will also need a solicitor or conveyancer for certain documents like the contract of sale and you will be asked to decide on advertising options.

Final preparations

Once you have set a date for your move, you will need to book a removalist. If you prefer to handle the packing and unpacking yourself, have the boxes ready for the removalists to load into the truck. Alternatively, you can employ a packing service so you can relax and focus on preparing your new home.

Make sure to clearly label moving boxes (especially the ones with fragile items), arrange to disconnect your utilities and inform Australia Post and other service providers of your new address.


Moving in

It’s the big day at last! Before you settle into your new home, it’s a great idea to visit the new home in the days before you move in, to fully acquaint yourself with the space and where things will go. Contact the village manager ahead of the big day – they’re sure to provide a helping hand to ensure your move is smooth (and have a cup of tea and a biscuit on hand). Day 1 is simply about the essentials – turning the fridge on, putting the bed in place and checking the basic utilities are connected. Everything else can happen in good time.

Each retirement village is a community with unique characteristics, and we always recommend to people thinking of making the move to take a tour and talk to current residents, so you can get a feel for the place – only by doing this do you get a sense of the community vibe and whether it’s the right fit for you.

If you’re beginning to think about what you need for the next phase of your life, make sure to visit our website at to get more information on retirement village living.

It’s a big life decision to make the move to a retirement village, but with the right preparation and planning, it’s sure to be a wise move.

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