Get down with downsizing

Most people believe downsizing is simply about moving into a smaller home in order to reduce running costs, maintenance and wasted space, but true downsizing is about ascertaining what your future needs are going to be, and how best to meet them, say developers Project Friday, who try to create their developments with the future needs of their buyers in mind.

With the majority of the baby boomer population shifting into their mid-60s and getting tired of maintaining their quarter-acre block, there is a new property buzz around downsizers and smaller homes. However, size is only one aspect that matters when considering your next property move.

Many people seem to rush into a purchase without giving consideration to what they will do if and when they are no longer physically fit and active. We see countless examples of downsizers moving into homes that no longer suit their needs only a few short years later. Apart from the financial costs of moving, buying and selling and applicable stamp duty costs, there is also the emotional cost of disruption, unfamiliar surroundings and distance from family and friends.

For previous generations this was the point in time that many, if not most, would consider an aged-care facility as the only feasible option. There is a massive stigma around many of these facilities – residents can experience a loss of independence and often can’t even make a cup of tea, with meals served only in common areas.

There are also an increasingly limited number of spaces available plus there’s the financial burden of having to cover bonds and annual fees, the majority of which have now crept close to a million dollars per person.

So the question becomes: what are the alternatives and what do people need to look out for before they make the move?

As part of our development strategy, Project Friday has tried to tackle these questions head-on and find solutions to create dwellings that will ‘grow’ with their residents and are adaptable as the occupants’ needs change, while still maintaining a desirable aesthetic.

As part of our development strategy, all of our downsizer dwellings tick off the obvious requirements:

• Lift access to all floors
• Walk-in shower cavities
• Oversized doorways and corridors
• Flat transitions from internal to external spaces.

Additional ‘future-proof’ considerations that we incorporate into every apartment include:

• Generous spacing around key work areas such as kitchens and bathrooms
• Easy-to-use taps, window latches and light switches
• Motorised blind provisions
• Floor coverings that reduce risk of falls
• Pre-fitted handrail connections.

All of this can be designed so as to not draw any attention. Some aspects like wide doorways can be enjoyed now and appreciated later. Other elements such as easy-to-use tapware and grab rails in bathrooms can be designed for now with appropriate structural additions during build (for example, extra support in the walls for grab rails to be secured to) and then only require minimal costs and work when it’s time to adapt.

If you are thinking about your next home, consider what will work in the long term and plan for it now to make meeting any future requirements a much smoother experience, and reduce the need to move again.

Image: Artist’s impression of the living area of the Briq development in Caulfield, which has been designed with occupants’ future needs in mind.