IS IT TIME TO LET GO OF THE FAM­ILY HOME?

When you’ve spent decades in one house, it’s a huge in­vest­ment of love and money that can be painful to give up. GH in­ves­ti­gates why the idea of a for­ever fam­ily home is fall­ing out of favour, with more peo­ple down­siz­ing to fund re­tire­ment, sup­port their

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Front Page -

Ex­actly when it hap­pened, she couldn’t quite say. But while Jane Jones’s fam­ily home had once buzzed with the com­ings and go­ings of her two chil­dren, with just her and her hus­band liv­ing there, it was much qui­eter. There were rooms they didn’t even go into any more.

How things had changed from when they found the five-bed­room house when their chil­dren were lit­tle. ‘We said we’d live there for ever,’ re­mem­bers Jane, a for­mer teacher who now works for the Na­tional Trust. But, 18 years on, with their son and daugh­ter liv­ing else­where, it no longer seemed such a per­fect fit. Slowly, the idea of mov­ing to some­thing eas­ier to run slowly be­gan to take hold.

‘It was a big old house that needed lots of main­te­nance, and there were parts we didn’t use. We started talk­ing vaguely about whether it might be time to move,’ Jane re­calls. They con­sid­ered re­lo­cat­ing to their hol­i­day home

in Corn­wall but de­cided it would be too far from their chil­dren and Jane’s el­derly fa­ther, so agreed to stay in the same area.

‘The con­ver­sa­tion didn’t go much fur­ther than that,’ says Jane. ‘I needed more time to get used to the idea than my hus­band did. The thought of pack­ing was over­whelm­ing and I didn’t know how I’d feel about an­other fam­ily liv­ing in our house. Steve didn’t want to push me, but then he spot­ted a house in an es­tate agent’s win­dow and I found my­self agree­ing to see it.’

The newly built town­house over­look­ing the race­course in New­bury, Berk­shire, ticked all their boxes – spa­cious, with big rooms but fewer of them, and to­tally dif­fer­ent from where they’d pre­vi­ously lived, as they didn’t want to move into a smaller ver­sion of the home they were leav­ing.

‘I loved our old house. But once we moved all our things into our new home, it felt like ours right away,’ says Jane. ‘Leav­ing our gar­den could have been a wrench, but it’s lovely to sit on one of our bal­conies and not fret that the hedge needs cut­ting. We have more free time

‘It felt right to be hand­ing our keys over to a new young fam­ily’

here and it’s more of a lock-up-and-leave prop­erty so we can travel with­out wor­ry­ing about home.’

Jane’s ex­pe­ri­ence is be­com­ing ever more fa­mil­iar, with the idea of the for­ever fam­ily home shift­ing. Nearly half of all home­own­ers aged 55 and above have al­ready moved to a smaller prop­erty or would con­sider do­ing so, ac­cord­ing to one study – while in the three years up to 2016, the num­ber of peo­ple mov­ing aged be­tween 50-70 went up 20%.

‘Tra­di­tion­ally, the ma­jor­ity of those reach­ing 50 tended to be done with mov­ing al­to­gether and chose to stay put,’ says David Fell of Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional. ‘But the sta­tus quo is chang­ing, with peo­ple in their 60s and 70s more likely to move to­day than at any point in the last 20 years.’

Like Jane, top of the list is find­ing a prop­erty that is eas­ier to man­age, with lower run­ning costs. Many peo­ple want to move closer to fam­ily, or sim­ply have more time and money to en­joy life.

Prop­erty ex­pert Kate Faulkner ex­plains: ‘Peo­ple have a bet­ter house-life bal­ance. In­stead of try­ing to make as much money out of a house as pos­si­ble, they want to re­lease money and en­joy them­selves or help their chil­dren. More peo­ple are choos­ing a great life­style over a for­ever fam­ily home that costs a lot to main­tain.’

Jane Jones

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