A July 2021 poll by Opinium (research & insight agency) for Hargreaves Lansdown found two-thirds of people say they’ll consider downsizing in retirement, however only 22% of those people are sure they want to do it, so what’s stopping the other 44%?

A 2018 study by Legal & General delved into the reasons why people were reticent to move, with common responses being not wanting to give up the family home, wanting to leave their home to their family as inheritance, being close to family and friends and feeling a sentimental attachment to their house or local area (65% have lived in their home for 30 years or more).

All of the above are valid reasons for feeling unsure about moving, but there are plenty of advantages to downsizing in retirement too which could outweigh any concerns. We’ll explore the main benefits of downsizing and take a look at anything you may need to consider along the way.

What are the benefits of downsizing?

Senior couple throwing two boxes in the air

Your family home will have served you well for many years, you raised your children there, and maybe even their children, however, you might be finding that you’ve got a little more space than you really need now. There is nothing wrong with having space, however, it is important to consider the effects it could be having on both your finances and wellbeing.

Maintaining a home and garden can be timely and expensive. Moving to a smaller property, particularly in a retirement community will save you time on property upkeep and prevent any surprise bills such as replacing guttering or renewing a driveway, for example. Having a smaller space also means less cleaning and tidying, freeing up time to spend doing the things you enjoy most.

It’s likely your monthly bills will be less, you’ll no longer be paying to heat rooms that are rarely used, you might save on council tax too. Along with savings on bills, If you are moving from an expensive property, after downsizing you may also have cash left over from its sale which you can use for things such as holidays, buying a new car or treating the family.

Small doesn’t necessarily mean pokey, most retirement properties have ample space for you to live comfortably, pursue your hobbies and have room for friends and family to visit. Of course, you will need to pare down your belongings – take it as an opportunity to simplify your life; keep the things most useful and valuable to you and get rid of the clutter, you’ll be surprised how good it feels. Organising expert Marie Kondo advises, if it doesn’t ‘spark joy’, you should get rid of it, consider donating items to charity shops, giving to family or selling on websites such as eBay or Facebook.

A fresh new start; you can move closer to family and loved ones, or try living somewhere new that might not have been possible previously. It might be that you want to live nearer local amenities than you currently do, or want to escape the city. Perhaps you have had a recent change in circumstance such as a bereavement leaving you feeling isolated or lonely, moving to a retirement community offers the opportunity to meet new friends and engage in social activities in the comfort and familiarity of your home space.

Why move to a retirement property?

Landscape of a neighbourhood with streetlights and houses

There’s more to moving to a retirement village than just owning a stylish new property, the doors (both proverbial and literal) open up to a whole new way of living. Many retirement properties function as small communities with on-site cafes, restaurants and facilities such as gyms and cinemas, and a roster of daily activities at no extra cost.

Most properties are situated in or close to town centres and offer transport options for activities such as shopping or visiting the doctor, so it is no longer necessary to own a car unless you want to. Santhem Residences Shenfield has cars available to rent as and when you need them, rather than paying out to own a car you use less frequently

If your current home is no longer suitable due to mobility issues causing problems with stairs or property access, this might lead you to consider purchasing a retirement bungalow to live on a single floor. Retirement apartments are just as accessible, with multiple lifts and extra-wide doors, you’ll never need to worry about getting in, out, up or down and you’ll have your very own concierge who will happily bring your shopping bags into your home for you.

As time goes on, you may find yourself needing further support day-to-day or in-home care. Living in a retirement village there is easy access to additional support options and there is always someone around should you ever need to call upon help, giving you the reassurance that you’re unlikely to ever need to move again to cater for your needs.

Where to begin?

Female home caregiver talking with senior woman, sitting in living room and listening to her carefully

So you’ve decided a retirement apartment is for you, what now? We recommend taking some time to sit down and do some research, Google is a great starting point and talking to friends and family will often be helpful. In order to figure out what is right for you, consider the following questions:

What are your reasons for moving? – Do you need extra support, are you looking to live in more of a community setting, or is it that you’d like to have more on-site amenities close by? Whatever your reason for moving, speak to a dedicated downsizing specialist for practical advice and guidance so that you can find out everything about the process and types of properties available. This will help you find the perfect choice so that you enjoy a stress-free move.

Do you want to remain in the area or try somewhere new? – Choose your area and find what is available. Bear in mind many new properties are being built every year so if there is a particular developer you’d like to buy from but doesn’t have a property in the location you’d like, get in touch with them to see what is coming up in the future, it might also mean your get the first pick of the properties.

What can you afford? – Ascertain the value of your current property, you can get guidance from websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla who can show you what similar properties in your area have recently sold for. You can often get non-committal free valuations from local estate agents too. Be sure to take into account any additional costs moving will incur such as stamp duty, estate agent fees and conveyancing.

Consider your outgoings: Most retirement properties have a service charge, but unlike other properties, you’ll find a lot more is included in it above and beyond general maintenance. Consider how much you currently spend on maintaining your property, then also look at how much you spend on other things such as gym membership, takeaway coffee, cinema, and social activities – at Santhem all of these things are included so you probably find you will make savings.

What is important to you? – Do what makes you happy, your wellbeing is the most important thing to consider, moving house should be a decision that contributes to your comfort and happiness, enabling you to live a long, fulfilled life.

Time to move?

So you’ve decided that downsizing to a retirement property is for you, very exciting! But now there’s a lot to do – Don’t worry, there are options available if you need them to make the process much smoother and less stressful.

Relocation advice & services – at Santhem we have partnered with Senior Move, downsizing and decluttering specialists, who can help by creating a bespoke & personal downsizing plan for you. This plan includes support packing & unpacking your possessions, customised floor plans so that you can visualise your furniture in your new home, and sensitive guidance and advice on managing and sorting your belongings. You can even enjoy a complimentary consultation when you reserve a property with us!

Part exchange – we can refer you to an excellent part exchange operator that can help to turn you into a cash buyer. Using part exchange you will avoid dealing with an estate agent, property viewings and being in a chain. Your home will be valued for free by a RICS surveyor and two independent estate agents to ensure the most accurate pricing and an offer will be made on your property within 48 hours of this information being received, making the selling process much quicker for you.

Moving – If packing up your belongings seems like a gargantuan task that you just don’t want to face, we have partnered with local removal companies that share our values and can help you with the process. If you’d like more support, there are relocation specialists available who can help to plan your move so you know what needs to happen and when, and offer hands-on support for the practical and emotional sides of downsizing such as planning where to put your furniture and donating or recycling any belongings you no longer need.

If downsizing is for you, and you think a Santhem Residences apartment might meet all of your needs, give us a call at 01277 508999 or email us at enquiries@santhemresidences.co.uk  and we can go through any further questions you may have and let you know what properties we have available to suit you.

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