​Will downsizing house make our retirement better?

The hard graft is done, you’ve finally paid off your family home mortgage, the kids have left home and now you are gazing warmly into the future trying to map out your retirement.

The golden years are something to look forward to. With newfound time on your hands, opportunities can be seized allowing you to follow your passions or try something new. In this article we look at whether downsizing property could be the key to unlocking an even happier retirement.

The current downsizing market.

One third of people over 55 want to downsize (McCarthy & Stone 2016); however due to the lack of suitable property, many are put off.

Lets take a quick look at why this is the situation.

When looking to downsize most people are looking for a two-bedroom property, in an accessible location close to amenities and with a smaller garden. This, however puts them in the same competitive market as first-time buyers and buy-to let landlords.

Due to the Government incentives to help first time buyers, developers have been focusing on creating semi-detached villas; because they are easy to sell and they can build more per square metre than bungalows. The repercussion of this is the lack of suitable ground floor properties for people in their later stages of life.

How will downsizing make our retirement better?

  • The releasing of equity
  • A more manageable property
  • Moving closer to friends and family

A 2017 Prudential survey shows that those planning to move to a cheaper property expect to free up about £112,000 of equity; with 11% believing they will make £200,000 or more. When reflecting on what they would spend their money on; 60% would use it for boosting their retirement fund and improving their standard of living, while 47% would consider travelling more, and 13% would use it to help their children on to the property ladder.

The top reason for downsizing is convenience, because a smaller property means less maintenance and fewer rooms to keep clean. You want to be out enjoying yourself not worrying about keeping on top of the dusting & heating bills!

When your children leave home they often move to new areas because of work or relationships. Downsizing, can open up new opportunities where you can move closer to them, even more encouraging when grandchildren come about.

What people are looking for when they downsize home.

74% of people said convenience is the main trigger for them wanting to downsize after retirement (Prudential survey 2017). Empty bedrooms after the kids have left home; large gardens that are hard to maintain; huge heating bills in winter, all of these highlight that it might be time to move on from the family home.

Just because you want to downsize though doesn’t mean that you want to assign yourself to the geriatric squad quite yet. Having reached your 60’s you know that there is a big difference between yourself and people in their later 70’s. It is therefore not surprising; that although you are looking for a smaller house, it needs to have more going for it than just ‘easy to maintain’.

Having taken up new hobbies you are likely on the look out for plentiful storage space and not wanting to miss out on entertaining the grandchildren a spare bedroom is essential too. Even with this though, there is a feeling that downsizing might lead to a house that you are less proud of than your previous home.

The key shift change is when you see the downsizing of your property as the start of an exciting new chapter, rather than the focus being on the giving up of your treasured family home.

The search for a new house should be as exciting as your first and there should be no reason why you have to compromise on quality; after all, we all want to show off our home to friends and family with pride.

When our team decided to develop Edenmanor, central to the whole project what this vision that we wanted to create homes that were stylish yet practical for the over 50’s. We felt a huge responsibility to buck the trend and design beautiful homes that people in their golden years of life would love for years to come, creating a social environment that would help develop new happy memories.

As you can see in the Edenmanor gallery the development brings about a sense of community, with the 15 executive homes gathering around the restored Grade 3 listed building. Both the 5 apartments and the 10 new build single story terraced houses are sympathetic to the renovation while also embracing a modern style that homeowners will welcome. The location in Stonehaven is walking distance to both the town square and the train station, for when homeowners fancy travelling a little further.

As you’ll see from the floorplans the rooms are all spacious with plenty of natural light to illuminate the contemporary style on show. We also felt it important to involve Laings of Inverurie; who are the largest independent provider of luxury kitchens and bathrooms in the finishing touches, ensuring that the completed homes really were the envy of friends.

6 tips to consider when downsizing

  • Move for the right reasons, if you do it just for money you may regret it in time. For example if you move to somewhere cheaper and more remote just in order to release the maximum amount of equity you may find yourself miserable within months and find it impossible to trade back up.
  • Move somewhere that suits your lifestyle. If you are planning to embrace new hobbies in your retirement make sure they are accessible
  • Look for the right location, don’t just move because it looks nice. Think about whether you can build a social life there. Sadly Age UK reports that half a million people over the age of 60 usually spend each day alone without interaction with anyone. It’s one of the reasons we were keen to incorporate a sense of community in to the Edenmanor development.
  • Don’t move somewhere too old before you need to! At 60, 75 suddenly seems a lot older! Just because you are downsizing doesn’t mean that you need to move into supported housing.
  • De-clutter, see it as a lovely opportunity to tell stories and pass on heirlooms to family members rather than a negative experience.
  • Change your mindset, rather than seeing it as a negative experience approach downsizing as the start of a new chapter; one where you can maximize your retirement opportunities.

In summary

There is no shame in downsizing; in fact your lifestyle will be likely looked on with great envy by others. The key is finding the right property so that you can not only fall in love with your new home, but also release equity in order that you can enjoy more of the things you love such as travelling, golfing and socialising with friends.

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