This couple who downsized to a smaller home reveal the joy of having less house, lower bills and more life
John Robson, Residential Property Manager at Milners Law in Harrogate and a Yorkshire Post columnist, was one of those who had toyed with the idea. He and his partner, Andrew Evans, loved their three storey, four bedroom home in the Micklethwaite area of Wetherby, which they bought as a new-build in 2006 and they knew that leaving it would be a wrench.
Fate and their friend Sue’s wise words “Less house, more life” guided them into making what has been one of the best moves they have ever made. “In 2014 both our next door neighbours decided to sell with Beadnall Copley estate agents. I happened to be speaking to the estate agency on a work related matter and mentioned we were sandwiched between their For Sale boards,” says John.
“They said that would-be buyers were coming from Bury St Edmunds that weekend and we agreed they could view our house too. They placed an offer and that was the deal done. Suddenly we were planning to downsize.”
The spur of the moment decision was rooted in common sense as the couple generally only used three of the nine rooms in their home. A rummage on Rightmove brought up a 15-year-old, terraced townhouse in a sought-after village.
It had two-bedrooms, a lounge/dining room, kitchen and W.C. on the ground floor and three bedrooms, a bathroom and ensuite on the first floor. There was also a south-facing garden.
It was very compact but the idyllic location in a small development set within five acres of communal grounds swung it and they arranged a viewing. “The house was in need of a lot of work and Andrew was concerned that the property was too small,” says John.
“He did not want to buy it as he was worried about where all our furniture and stuff would go but the point of downsizing is that you only keep things that you treasure and the furniture you actually need and use.” A second viewing and lots of deliberation later led the couple to make an offer and they moved there in July 2014.
“We left two double beds, a sofa, wardrobe and various other items for the buyers of the Wetherby property but even after a big clear out when the removal van arrived at our new small home, the removal men informed us that all our stuff would not go into the house,” says John. “At that point I had serious doubts as to whether we had done the right thing but we pulled ourselves together. We got a pizza and a bottle of wine that night and made a plan and during the next few weeks, we filled the house with furniture and boxes and had another clear out.”
It took the couple eight years to renovate the property and get it picture perfect and in peak condition but their patience has been rewarded with a stylish and practical home and garden. They made the three bedrooms into two, redecorated and saved up for a new boiler, new windows, new kitchen, bathrooms and carpets.
The spare bedroom is for guests and doubles as John’s office and he says: “We use all the rooms in the house and moving was a really therapeutic process plus what we chose to keep really means something to us and our families.
“The property is timber framed and is very well insulated so it is easy and economical to heat and also the cleaning process is vastly easier here than it was in our old home. Plus by moving we paid most of our old mortgage off.”
Here are John’s tips on downsizing: Making the initial decision to downsize can be both frightening and confusing as you consider where to move to, what type of property to buy, what to do with the surplus furniture and possessions. Also your home will hold precious memories.
You should, however, think of downsizing as a process that will make life easier and more cost effective. It will future proof your homelife. Yes, it’s scary and it is hard but the long term benefits are the reward.
After the first few weeks of adjustment in our new property, we felt relieved that we had moved to a smaller house. We now have a home we can live in for the rest of our lives and it is a perfect size for us, it is economical to run and easy to maintain.
It also pays to think of amenities and accessibility. We have easy access to Harrogate and Wetherby and there is a bus stop at the end of our lane plus the village has a pub with accommodation and a Spar shop.
I deal with the conveyancing process for many mature clients who have embraced downsizing. They are usually concerned about the move but know it is best for their wellbeing and security.
*Anyone considering downsizing and who wants to talk through the legalities of the conveyancing process can contact John at Milners Solicitors, Harrogate. Email, [email protected], tel: 01423 530103.