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24Aug

Many people spend years upsizing their property from that first room or apartment, to the first family home and then the next larger properties that you may choose to move on to. However, there will typically come a time in your life when kids move out, life circumstances change, or for whatever reason, it’s time to downsize your property from a larger home, into something more manageable for your current situation. 

Downsizing can bring advantages such as the ability to free up equity in your current home or moving into a property which is easier to manage during retirement

However, it also brings disadvantages, like the fact that you may have less space to work with, so will have to spend time getting rid of excess furniture and belongings which will not fit in your new property. 

Alongside all of the physical baggage, downsizing can also bring a lot of emotional baggage with it, as you may be leaving behind a property that you have very happy memories of living in, so it may take a while to get your head around the decision to downsize. 

Living in a smaller property than previously brings its own challenges and rewards, so here are some useful tips to help you navigate the journey of downsizing your property.

 

Size and Location Matter

It’s helpful to consider what kind of property you are wanting to downsize to, and where you want the location of that property to be. 

If you are moving with someone else, then you may need to have a discussion about what you both feel is an acceptable property size. Do you want a smaller house with a garden, a bungalow, a ground floor maisonette or apartment, or something else altogether? It may be that one of you is thinking a nice small one-bedroom home, whilst the other person still wants to maintain a slightly bigger property for family and friends to stay in, so make sure that you are clear on property size before starting your search. 

It’s then also helpful to consider the location you want to live in. Do you want to be within an easy drive of amenities and on a route with good public transport, or do you want to get away from it all and live further away?  Staying near Family and Friends may be an important factor to consider too. 

Think about whether your new property has potential for future proofing. If you’re planning on staying in your property for the long term, will it still be fit for purpose 10 years down the line?

 

Downsize Large Furniture 

In order to downsize, it’s likely that you will need to get rid of large items in your home. Write down a list of all of the furniture that you have in your current home, and then all of the furniture that you will need in your new home, and compare lists. Hopefully this will help you to work out what you may need to part with. 

For example, you may currently have a three-bedroom property, with three beds, three wardrobes and three sets of drawers, but now be moving into a one-bedroom property where you only need one bed, one wardrobe and one set of drawers, so some of these larger items may need to go!

Downsizing floor space, but not the number of rooms can be trickier, so you may need to work out whether your larger items actually fit into your current home or whether you will have to purchase new furniture that work for a smaller space. 

Arrange for collection of furniture or equipment you no longer need from a charitable organisation, or offer it family and friends, or for sale or free on selling sites to help you get rid of furniture as easily as possible.  

 

Declutter 

Like with furniture, your belongings will have typically accumulated over the years, and so downsizing is the perfect opportunity to go through your belongings, Marie Kondo style, and decide what still “sparks joy” and is for keeping, and what you no longer need and isn’t worth holding onto. 

It’s also helpful to consider what equipment you will no longer use. For example, if you are moving to a smaller property or even a flat, will you be using equipment to maintain the garden and if not, is there any point in keeping it? 

If you are keeping belongings or “clutter” for other people, then let them know that you will not be taking their belongings to your new home, and that they will need to collect and sort through their items before you move. 

 

Digitalise

With modern advances in technology over the years, we’ve gone from things like Videos to DVDs and from Cassette to CDs and now to digital downloads for all types of media. 

It may be that you are holding onto certain technological items which are no longer seen as “advanced tech” for sentimental value. Why not consider turning all of these into digital files so that you still have them available to you in a modern format, but you don’t have to hold onto the physical copies if you want to save space.

Similarly, you may be holding onto lots of old photo albums which could also be digitalised to save space. 

 

Consider External Storage

If you are downsizing, and have belongings which you absolutely can’t bear to get rid of, but which will not fit in your new property, then you could consider renting a storage unit, so that you have the peace of mind of holding onto your belongings, without the worry of trying to fit them into your new home.

So, there are a few ideas to get you started!

If you are considering downsizing, then we’re always happy too chat and assist with help and advice on whether selling your current property and moving to a smaller property, or moving onto the rental market would be a better fit for you. Why not pop into our offices on Victoria Street, or give us a call on 01727 221290 to find out more. 

 

30Jul

Summer is here and maybe you are off away, visiting sunnier climes, or you’re throwing open the patio doors and declaring summer fun here in the UK. Well if you are planning on staying in the local area, here are some fantastic things to do in and around your home in the summer.

1. Get out into the Garden

If you’re blessed to have a Garden or some outside space, then summer is the perfect time to get out and use it! You could always do the usual things of having a BBQ and inviting friends around, or encouraging the kids to spend time playing outside on the trampoline or in the paddling pool, but you could also go for some more quirky memorable ideas. 

Perhaps resolve to spend the whole day outside in the fresh air! Put up a Gazebo and pop some garden blankets and cushions underneath it and set up a day camp in the garden where you can spend the day working, relaxing, or chatting with family and friends in the open air. 

To keep kids entertained you could set up an obstacle course, a bug hunt, or a water activity for the kids to play with whilst you relax and watch the world pass by. 

Why not go a step further with your garden activities and make a night of it by putting up a tent and spending the night camping outside in the garden!

2. Visit a Local Park

If you fancy a bit more open space than your own garden, then of course the local park is the perfect place to relax in the summer! You could take a walk, read a book or just simply lay back and feel the grass beneath your feet. You could also decamp to the local park for an afternoon or evening of fun with friends! There are lots of fab parks in St Albans, Verulamium Park, Clarence Park, Highfield Park, Greenwood Park, Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead, Cassiobury Park in Watford, there are lots to choose from! 

3. Take a Walking Tour

Exploring the local area can be really fun, especially if you are a commuter and don’t normally get much of a chance to walk around your local area. Rather than just walking around aimlessly, you could join an organised walking tour, typically run by your local tourist centre or group. St Albans Tour Guides offers tours in the local area. You could take a local history tour, a celebrity homes tour, a wildlife tour, a tour of local pubs or even a ghost tour! There are lots of different tours available in different local areas!

4. Visit Local Events

Most local areas are typically full of free or low-cost events during the summer and throughout the year, which are great for individuals, couples and families alike!

Why not seek out your nearest summer fair or music festival, catch a film in the park, sample the various local food on offer at your nearest farmers market, take advantage of an open-air theatre performances, or support events happening at local venues throughout St Albans and beyond the local area. Take a look at “What’s On St Albans" for event listings. 

5. Have a Wet Weather Contingency Plan

The weather doesn’t always go to plan, rainy days can happen even in summer, so it helps to have a wet weather contingency plan in place for things to do inside as well as outside. 

You could visit a local Museum or Art Gallery, take a walk around our wonderful Cathedral St Albans Abbey and visit the new visitor centre, tour one of our local stately homes, or even just take yourself off to sit at your local coffee shop with a good book. For kids you could decide to avoid the rain and retreat to the nearest soft play, trampoline park, 

So, there are a few tips of things to do in the summer around your local area. What are your favourite things to do in St Albans and beyond? 

We’re always happy to give tips and advice on the local area, so why not give us a call on 01727 221290

 

02Jul

The soaring temperatures and hot weather in recent weeks have signalled that summer in the UK has well and truly begun, and with the hot weather, often comes the desire to get away from the city and enjoy Britain’s coastline and beaches.

Herts, Beds and Bucks are well situated for being able to quickly get to big cities like London, or out to the countryside hills in no time at all, however, in our landlocked counties, a trip to the coast whenever the mood takes you can prove to require a little more planning. Still, the coast is not too far away, so here are our recommendations for a few beaches which are easy to visit for the day when travelling from West Hertfordshire.

Southend on Sea, Essex

At 54 miles away, and a driving time of between an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half on average, Southend-on-Sea in Essex is actually one of the closest and easy to get to beaches from the West Herts area. Boasting sandy beaches and a pier, plus a “Golden Mile” of amusement arcades, Southend is often known as the “Blackpool of the South.” Southend also offers an “Adventure Island” amusement park with fairground rides and water slides, great for adults and kids alike, plus a Sea Life Aquarium Centre too. All you need for a great day out beside the Seaside!

Clacton, Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

Staying on the Essex Coast, the beach towns of Clacton, Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze are all in close proximity to each other and easily reachable within a two hour drive of Herts. Whilst Clacton offers a taste of the more traditional British sea-side town including a traditional Victorian pier and Sea-Front Gardens, Walton-on-the-Naze offers prime sandy beaches, the second longest pier in the UK and slightly less tourists than Clacton. Then there is Frinton-on-Sea, which remains less commercialised and apparently has an air of reserved gentility about it too!

Southwold, Suffolk

Norfolk’s more easterly neighbour Suffolk is a slightly longer drive at between 2-3 hours, but for those who love a taste of “St Albans by the sea”, the wonderful town of Southwold (of Grandpa in my Pocket fame for those with youngish children) is the perfect spot. Southwold offers a quintessentially British taste of the Seaside, with a sandy beach, lighthouse, beach-hut lined promenade, plus a small town of independent quirky designer and artsy shops. Definitely worth a wander around on a summer’s day especially!

Brighton, Sussex

Whilst Brighton, down in Sussex may not boast sandy beaches, it is a great get away for the day if you want to visit a beach city! Brighton is often described as a mini London by the sea and is a diverse, cultural city with a quirky artistic feel.  Offering a pebble beach, the Brighton Palace Pier and a Sea Life Centre, Brighton is a great day out for adults, but also kids who perhaps aren’t so lured by the thought of a beach where they can make sandcastles all day.

Bournemouth, Dorset

Now if you want somewhere to build Sand Castles then Bournemouth in Dorset definitely fits the bill! At about 120-miles, a two-hour journey away, did you know that Bournemouth Beach is over 11 miles long! This means that there is definitely enough room for everyone on Bournemouth beach, and with an array of pier amusements, Beach Hut Hire, outdoor pursuits and water sports available, Bournemouth is a great place to visit for those who love the outdoor life!

So, whilst you may love the local area during the summer, if the lure to get away to the coast proves too much then hopefully some of these great beach options may appeal.

If you have any questions about living, buying, selling or renting property in the local area then we’re always happy to chat. 

31May

It’s one of the main things you might be looking forward to about your new property... your new garden! Perhaps even more so if maybe you’ve never had any outside space of your own before!

As summer approaches, thoughts naturally turn towards the outside space in our homes, so what kind of things should you be thinking about when considering the outside space in your new property?

1) Is the outside space useable and fit for purpose?

When viewing your prospective property, consider whether the outside space is useable enough in its current format, or whether it has the potential to become a useable space which works for you.

 

It might be that you want a nice lawn with some shrubs around the edge, or a great patio space with table and chairs to sit out of an evening. Perhaps your absolute non-negotiable is that there must be room for a trampoline, fish pond or maybe even some extra acreage for a pony! Whatever your needs, consider whether this space has the potential to work for you and balance it up with the potential of the property itself.

It’s also helpful to mull over whether your outside space can accommodate you as needs change throughout your life, or whether you know that this property is merely a temporary stop and not yet your forever home so it doesn’t need to be everything to everyone just yet!

2) Are you being overlooked?

Another question to consider is whether your new garden is overlooked by others and whether this is something which bothers you or not. You may be very used to being overlooked and so this is not something you would give a second thought to, or it might be that you are hoping to be a little more secluded, and you don’t want people peering in on you sitting outside with your morning coffee or evening glass of wine!

Whatever the case, give consideration to whether you mind others being able to see you in your outside space.

3) How green are your fingers?

It’s all very well dreaming of a garden which looks fantastic whatever the weather or season, but you definitely need the time, ability and expertise to be able to maintain this kind of garden, so it depends whether you feel up to the challenge! 

If you work full time, aren’t green-fingered or aren’t able to physically maintain your garden then it might make sense to either compromise on a smaller, more manageable space or to hire someone to come and maintain the garden regularly for you. If you want the space but aren’t too fussed about the greenery, you could also consider simplifying your garden by laying artificial grass or paving it over to make it a more manageable space to maintain.

4) Any External Factors to consider?

You may have found a wonderful property with a beautiful garden space that you can’t wait to put your heart and soul into, but do consider the location of your property and how much this location could affect you.

For example, does your garden back on to a railway line with potential hazards and noise from trains? Are you near an airport which means that you’ll be subject to extra noise during the summer? Both of these factors cannot be changed and may come to be something which means that you avoid using your outside space.

If you have animals or young children you may need a back garden which is safe and secure, so it could be that living near a busy or main road is off the table, or that you need a back garden which you know is secure for a small child or pet.

If you are a sun worshipper and dream of sunbathing in the garden or if you hate sitting out in the afternoon sun, then it could be helpful to find out the direction that your garden faces to work out whether the garden is a North Facing or South Facing garden. This will determine whether your property gets the sun in the morning or afternoon and can help you work out whether this is the property and garden space for you!

5) Room for Extras?

Are you planning on making your garden a useable space year-round by adding perhaps a covering, some decking, a Hot Tub or maybe even a garden office or annexe? If those are on your list of must-haves then it may be wise to do your research as to whether these are feasible additions and whether any building work will require planning permission prior to purchasing the property.

6) No Outside Space Available

Of course, it may be that your new dream property is amazing on the inside, but doesn’t offer you the outside space you are hoping for on the outside. In this instance, it can be helpful to look at either whether it’s feasible to add a balcony to your property, whether there is share tenants outside space available and whether any restrictions are attached to this, or whether there are any local green open spaces close to the local area, which can be great for getting out for some fresh air.

If you have any questions around garden space in your existing or prospective property then we’re always happy to try and be of assistance so please do get in touch with us!