Downsizing: a smart move

Downsizing: a smart move

According to what you read the average amount of capital freed up by downsizing is between £70,000 and £87,600

05.12.2014 Why is downsizing your home such a smart move – particularly for people in, or contemplating, their later years?

05.12.2014  In reviewing recent housing policy and media reflections on it, it’s hard to get away from the downsizing agenda. But why is downsizing your home such a smart move – particularly for people in, or contemplating their later years?

A smart move… for the finances?

According to recent research by the Prudential (Prudential Downsizing Index: November 2014), over 40 per cent of over-55s plan to sell their current homes – three-quarters of those indicated that they intended to downsize. That proportion had risen by around eight per cent in the six months to November 2014.

For many, the financial arguments for downsizing are the driving force. According to what you read the average amount of capital freed up by downsizing is between £70,000 (Move with Us research: November 2014) and £87,600.

In research conducted by Hanover in early 2014, finance was one of the key factors identified by people contemplating downsizing. Yet this was not confined to merely releasing cash to fund later years, but was also viewed as a way of reducing the ongoing monthly expenditure associated with owning a larger property.

Indeed, the lower costs (and stress) associated with maintaining a smaller home were identified as a real plus-point in the ‘should we, shouldn’t we’ debate on downsizing.


A smart move… for quality of life

The attitudes of those entering what we might once have called ‘older age’ have changed dramatically over recent years as longevity has increased and wellbeing has improved. For one thing, homes built for ‘downsizers’ – including those being built by Hanover – are not retirement homes. Many aged over 55 are seeking to downsize the scale of their homes, but not their increasingly active lifestyles – especially the many who will continue to work into their 60s and beyond.

In Hanover’s research, it was revealed that no-one was prepared to compromise on the quality of their social lives. Moreover, they saw downsizing as a way of improving their lives.

A relaxing and comfortable environment, with low maintenance and upkeep, were uppermost in the minds of people to whom Hanover spoke. This even extended to gardens. While most enjoy a garden, many are looking forward to not having to worry about maintaining a large one.

From a social perspective, people seeking to downsize still want to enjoy life to the full, while good health prevails. The idea of a ‘retirement community’ is anathema yet the prospect of isolation is worse. The compromise is a place to live where there are community activities, but from which individuals could opt in or out.

Reflecting the youthful attitude most people entering later years now have, those surveyed by Hanover said their new, ‘downsized’ living environment needed to have a sense of energy and vibrancy, matching their perception of who they are as an age group.


A smart move… for wellbeing

A central and crucial role for housing in the healthcare of people in later years is an idea that appears to have achieved political consensus in recent times. This is especially salient for people seeking to downsize, and who are looking for their next move to be their last.

The idea of ‘housing for life’ was most recently endorsed in a Leonard Cheshire report in December (No Place Like Home, Leonard Cheshire: December 2014) which called for the Government to make housing developers build all new homes to a specification that residents can easily adapt for their needs.

The good news is that Hanover’s Downsizer Homes fall into this criteria – but not so as you’d obviously know it. Downsizer Homes are very much ‘homes for life’, with subtle features that enable homeowners to adapt them to their own style of living.

Hanover’s own research indicated that this balance of a ‘home for now… and the future’ was a key criteria for people seeking a downsized environment as their final move.