Our Guide To Downsizing In The Inner City And Inner West

January 27th, 2023 - by Brad Gillespie

Downsizers are becoming an increasingly important buyer segment here in Sydney’s inner city and inner west.

We explore who they are, what they want from a property, and how you can successfully downsize in our local area.

Who exactly is downsizing?

The traditional image of the downsizer has been an older person selling the home to free up capital and cut down on the chores and maintenance associated with running a large family home. But that’s not always the case any more.

It’s true that downsizers tend to be older than most home buyers but downsizing is no longer the sole preserve of people of - or near - retirement age. An increasing number of people are choosing to downsize earlier in life, often while they’re working full-time and the kids are still at home - and even still at school.

Many of these downsizers have taken the view that they’d prefer the low maintenance living of the inner city than a home in the suburbs. They also often don’t want to commute, choosing to be nearer to their employment or their children’s education, as well as the general hustle and bustle and amenities of the city.

The federal government is also actively encouraging a younger breed of downsizers by expanding its downsizer super contribution scheme. From 1 January this year, anyone over the age of 55 can contribute up to $300,000 from the proceeds of the sale of their family home into super. A couple can contribute $600,000.

That’s a pretty strong incentive to sell the family home and move on.

Why downsize in Sydney’s inner city and inner west?

If any part of Sydney was tailor-made for downsizing, it’s the inner city and inner west. Our area is vibrant, with some of the city’s greatest cafes, parks, restaurants, breweries, art galleries, live music, theatres and more. This is what appeals to many downsizers - a cosmopolitan urban life that can’t be easily replicated further from the city centre.

The inner city and inner west are also convenient. Most things are within walking distance, and for those that aren’t we boast some of the best public transport links in the whole city. This truly is one of the few parts of Sydney where you really don’t need a car.

With a range of smaller houses on small block sizes, plus a host of new contemporary apartments, it’s no surprise that our area has many of the ingredients a lot of downsizers are looking for in their next move.

What do downsizers want in a property?

Just as downsizers have become a much broader category of buyers than a decade ago, they’re looking for a broader range of properties too.

While older downsizers may be after single-level living with level or lift-access, for people downsizing with a family a staircase generally isn't an issue. That brings a wider range of properties into the downsizer category, including semis and terraces, as well as apartments.

What most downsizers do have in common, however, is that they’re after low maintenance living, so big backyards and extensive gardens are generally out - although small external entertaining areas are often high on the list.

Despite wanting less housework, many downsizers tend to want more internal space than downsizers of the past - especially if they have children. So, despite what the name downsizer may suggest, three- or even four-bedroom properties are in greater demand than two-bedroom properties.

Location is also crucial, so properties close to public transport and transportation also tend to rate highly.

Because they’ve often sold a family home further from the city, downsizers sometimes have more money to spend than many other categories of buyers, and are often paying cash. This means they've been less impacted by interest rate rises than many other categories of buyers.

Tips for downsizing successfully

If you’re looking to downsize in Sydney’s inner city and inner west, you’re in good company. Here are our tips for doing it well, based on experience with local buyers.

  • Know what you want. Are you looking for a character terrace, townhouse, semi or modern off-the plan apartment, or are you more flexible? The more flexible you are, the more likely you are to find the right property.
  • Don’t try to recreate the family home. A lot of downsizers get stuck trying to recreate their family home in a new location. You’re downsizing to make your life easier, not the same as it is now.
  • Focus on the fundamentals. I’ve had downsizers reject otherwise perfect homes because the configuration didn’t suit the furniture they currently own. But think about the bigger picture: you can always buy a new sofa, good property is harder to come by.
  • Think about the next decade, not just today. The typical time a Sydneysider owns a property is now around a decade. So consider what your life is likely to look like over the next decade.
  • Be prepared to sacrifice. No matter how big your budget is, you usually have to sacrifice something. Make a list of your non-negotiables, as well as your ‘nice to haves’.
  • Move when it suits you. No one can say for sure what the property market is going to do next. Rather than trying to time the market, downsize when it suits you.

Want more?

If you are looking to downsize in Sydney’s inner city or inner west, contact my team today.