Studio flat rental market downsizing

The best cities for downsizing: where can you maximise your savings?

Claire Flynn from mortgages explores the most lucrative locations for downsizing your property across the UK.

In recent years, downsizing has gained popularity for various reasons, ranging from a minimalist lifestyle to the practicalities of retirement. Not only can downsizing to a smaller home free up some cash, it also means less upkeep and lower bills.

According to research from Hamptons, 41% of those moving house are reducing their number of bedrooms, a figure that has grown in recent years. The motives vary – some are just seeking a simpler lifestyle, while others are financially driven – but the trend is clear.

So, where can you maximise your savings when downsizing in the UK? To find out,’s mortgage team recently produced the Downsizing Report. To estimate the most lucrative towns and cities for downsizing, they found the average savings between a studio apartment and a 1-bed property, then a 1- and 2-bed property and so on. Finally, the average price difference at each ‘step’ was calculated.

Key findings

The analysis revealed that the potential savings from downsizing could be substantial, with the most significant jump seen when moving from a 4-bedroom to a 3-bedroom property at 47.5%. The smallest saving is between a 1-bedroom property and a studio apartment, at just 8.5%. Overall, people save £64,532 on average by downsizing.

Bedrooms Step Average property price Difference from the previous step Difference from the previous step (%)
Studio £130,614
1 bedroom 1 bed to studio £141,705 £11,091 -8.5%
2 bedroom 2 bed to 1 bed £171,871 £30,166 -21.3%
3 bedroom 3 bed to 2 bed £231,251 £59,380 -34.5%
4 bedroom 4 bed to 3 bed £341,037 £109,786 -47.5%
5 bedroom 5 bed to 4 bed £453,276 £112,239 -32.9%

Best cities for downsizing

Bournemouth is the best city for downsizing, with an average saving of 62.2% or £222,752, with the town being popular with older homeowners heading into retirement. Life by the sea certainly appeals to those looking to downsize in their later years.

In second, with an average saving of 59.9% or £67,788, Sunderland offers great value, especially for those looking at smaller properties. Warrington in Cheshire comes in third, with an average saving of 58.1% or £121,901. Those who live in the larger neighbouring cities of Liverpool and Manchester might find Warrington is a good option when downsizing.

Rank City Region Average saving* Average saving (%)
1 Bournemouth South West £222,752 62.2%
2 Sunderland North East £67,788 59.9%
3 Warrington North West £121,901 58.1%
4 Poole South West £231,274 56.2%
5 Dundee Scotland £78,154 55.4%
5 Bolton North West £100,358 55.4%
7 Aberdeen Scotland £90,124 54.9%
8 Middlesbrough North East £59,556 53.9%
9 Glasgow Scotland £78,637 49.0%
10 Derby East Midlands £101,524 48.2%

*Average across all steps

Plan your downsizing carefully

Most of us spend so much of our property-owning lives looking to upsize and have more space, but it’s important to consider whether this is right for you.

People often associate downsizing with retirement, but it can be done anytime. It all depends on what you want and need from a property and what you can realistically afford.

And while some may be forced into downsizing due to circumstances, such as a divorce, it can offer advantages and opportunities. Downsizing could be more than just a trend – it could be a good financial move, especially if you’re based in the right city.

Here are some tips to consider:

1. Assess your needs

Before looking at property listings, make a detailed list of what you need in a home. Consider the number of bedrooms, the necessity for a garden, proximity to local amenities, or easy access to transport links. Understanding your ‘must-haves’ instead of your ‘nice-to-haves’ can make finding a suitable property considerably easier.

2. Seek professional help

Engaging with estate agents who are experts in the specific location you’re interested in can offer valuable insights. Their knowledge could save you time and prevent costly errors. And a solicitor can ensure that all legalities are efficiently handled, reducing any potential risks.

3. Be efficient with space

Downsizing need not mean compromising on your lifestyle. Be creative with storage solutions and furniture arrangements to maximise the utility of smaller spaces. Consider fitted wardrobes or under-bed storage to minimise clutter. Multipurpose furniture like sofa beds or dining tables with built-in storage can be excellent space savers. Before you move, declutter and only take what will fit in the new space.

4. Financial planning

A smaller property often has lower utility bills, reduced council tax, and lower maintenance expenses. This reduction in outgoing costs can offer you a financial cushion directed towards savings, investments, or even buying a second property. It can be worth speaking to a financial adviser, who can look at all possible options to help you make the right decision for you.

Downsizing, when thought through, can not only simplify your lifestyle but also provide a financial boost.

All data was sourced by from Houses for Sale & to Rent on 4 July 2023, showing sale prices rather than the final price.

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