How do you move on once the nest empties?

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) evidence proves there’s a very real desire for a ‘sea change’ around mid-life, after children have left home. This empty nest syndrome presents lots of challenges and is frequently an expression of a desire to downsize the home and simplify life. Empty nest syndrome is a real thing, and there are ways to help deal with it.

What is empty nest syndrome?
Empty nest syndrome, most simply, is a change in lifestyle and routine that occurs after a family's children have grown up and left the 'nest' to live by themselves. This leaves families with real estate which is impracticably large, meaning the homeowners have the option of selling the family home, which is likely to have increased significantly in value over the years, and investing the profit in a retirement unit or a smaller home.

Choosing a new home of a different size is referred to either as 'downsizing' or 'right-sizing.'

The moods you may experience during empty nest syndrome
Homes come with a lot of attachment and dependence. Selling your home is an emotional time. Experts say empty nest syndrome is more common in women because women are more likely to have had the role of primary carer. After the last child moves out, mums may feel as though their role has dramatically changed. The feeling is similar to being made redundant. It is possible to feel worthless, disoriented and unsure of what meaning the future may hold.

Experiencing this or know someone who is? Experts recommends to take time to adjust to your new emotions, try various stress-relief techniques, and sell up and move to a smaller house only once you have adapted.

Statistics prove empty nest downsizing is real
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows a desire for sea change after children leave home is real.

The ABS 2007-08 survey asked people in the category of 'older households without children,' who had recently moved house, the reasons why they moved. The results showed 22.5 per cent of people in that category moved because they wanted to downsize, far outstripping the 7 per cent of people who wanted a bigger better home at that stage in their life. In fact, moving to a smaller home was more common than any other reasons cited for selling the family home.

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More older parents are moving on from the big family home

Some tips when downsizing
The all-important goal when downsizing or rightsizing is to feel, well, right! Some tips for empty nest sellers who want to find the perfect sized new home include:

  • If downsizing for retirement, consider only properties with at least one downstairs bathroom and bedroom so stairs cannot become a problem - forcing you to move again

  • Choose a location that is central to where your children and friends live, if possible

  • Check the closet and storage space in smaller residences and be sure you have enough room

  • Look for properties within level, walking distance of local convenience stores

  • Give priority to properties that offer direct access from a garage to the interior. This can be a significant advantage during inclement weather

  • When considering apartment buildings, look for complexes without too many lifts or expensive to maintain facilities like multiple pools, balconies with planter boxes (leakage is a common problem), or extensive gardens

  • Think about ongoing home maintenance – a single level property is frequently more manageable over the longer-term

  • Research street reviews and suburb security

If your children have left and you'd like to put your home up for sale, help is just a click away. It may begin with the simple step of getting a free property appraisal

Ideally, it’s advantageous to involve your family in the process of choosing a new location too. Sometimes, your best advice and insights come from those who care most about you.

If you’ve been through the experience of empty nest syndrome and rightsizing your property, tell us about your experience.

Are you considering downsizing? Join the conversation below.

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