Tuesday 16 July 2019

'We were left with this big house, a large garden, and a lot of maintenance' - How one couple downsized

How we did it - Downsizer Mary Burke bought a four-bed in Millerstown, Kilcock with Coonan Property husband

Mary Burke pictured in her Kilcock, Co Kildare home
Mary Burke pictured in her Kilcock, Co Kildare home

Mary and her husband Patrick decided to trade down some time after their youngest child got married. "We will be 40 years' married this year, we have four children; two daughters, two sons. Our youngest son got married last year; all our children have left the family home. So we were left with this big house, with a large garden, requiring a lot of maintenance."

They didn't set out with a new home specifically in mind, but a low maintenance house quickly became a priority. "Initially we were open-minded. After viewing some second-hand homes we thought, 'to make this our own, we're going to have to do some work'. We decided we didn't really want that. As such we decided it would have to be a new house."

Mary and her husband have yet to retire, but she points out that having a clear outline of exactly what you really want in your downsized home is essential.

"You need to sit down and do a lot of talking," she says. "List your needs and your wishes. Try not to compromise on those when you begin looking at houses. The minute we walked into this home, we knew this was the one. Don't listen to everyone else; yourself and your partner know what you want."

Consider your proximity to amenities, and existing social networks. Mary and her husband stayed in their area, but moved closer to the village so as to be walking distance from shops, their church and restaurants.

Originally, they had planned to move from their four-bedroom home to a three bed, but having space for their four children, their partners and the couple's grandchildren to stay was a priority. "So we went for less square footage, but stayed with a four bed," Mary explains. "We wanted the downstairs area to still be quite open, because we entertain. We're very family oriented, there are always parties going on, so I still wanted an area where that could happen. We tried to do all that, in smaller square footage.

"We were very lucky, we were able to achieve all those goals."

Leaving the home in which you may have reared your children can be a hard decision. "There were a lot of memories with the other house," Mary acknowledges. "We loved our garden; sitting out on a summer's evening, listening to the birds singing. But at the end of the day we felt we would make this house a home like any other home we had had."

In terms of preparing their former house for selling, their auctioneer advised the couple about a few jobs around the house. "Nothing hugely expensive," Mary, who is now happily installed in her new home, explains. "A small bit of painting, touch ups here and there. We hired two skips and got rid of a lot of stuff.

"It was very difficult, because a lot of our items had emotional attachment."

Sunday Independent

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