50% of down­siz­ers look for a low-main­te­nance home they can lock up and leave*

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Gh Spotlight -

GET­TING THE LIFE YOU LOVE

With bet­ter health and a de­cent fi­nan­cial cush­ion built up over three decades of house-price growth, busi­ness­woman Liz Tay­lor says sell­ing her fam­ily home has been lib­er­at­ing.

Liz, who runs a com­pany that plans in­ter­na­tional pri­vate and cor­po­rate events, has swapped her pe­riod fam­ily home for a pen­t­house flat. ‘We moved into the old house when my daugh­ters were just two and three. They are now 31 and 32. I poured my heart, soul and money into our lovely house, ex­tend­ing it, ren­o­vat­ing it and cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful gar­den. It’s been a happy home, full of mem­o­ries,’ she says.

Af­ter her sec­ond mar­riage ended, she wanted a fresh start. ‘Now I re­alise that all the mem­o­ries I cling to are about the peo­ple rather than the build­ing it­self, and I can carry the mem­o­ries with me. The whole process has turned what was a dif­fi­cult time in my life into an ad­ven­ture. There are dif­fer­ent ways to live.’

HELP­ING THE CHIL­DREN

Since sell­ing their fam­ily home in Sur­rey, Jill White and her hus­band have rad­i­cally changed their life­style. With the pro­ceeds, they’ve bought two buy-to-let houses in Manch­ester and Not­ting­ham through a prop­erty in­vest­ment com­pany, and put money aside to help their sons get on the prop­erty ladder. Mean­while, they have moved into a rented cot­tage in the Sur­rey Hills.

‘It’s one of the best de­ci­sions we’ve ever made,’ says Jill, a hu­man re­sources man­ager. ‘We’ve helped our sons and got the life­style we want. We have a new puppy and can go for walks from our doorstep, which has made me much less stressed. My fa­ther re­tired at 65 and died be­fore he was 67 – I’m 58 and well aware that you shouldn’t put things off.’

The num­ber of renters in the Whites’ age group has soared. ‘Our money is still in­vested, but now we get to live in this lovely cot­tage and are free to move if we need or want to. We don’t have to worry about main­te­nance and our money is much more flex­i­ble, which works for us now.’

Whether mak­ing a move is through choice or ne­ces­sity, the key is to pro-ac­tively plan the de­ci­sion. ‘If you plan it, it can be a re­ally pos­i­tive thing and give peo­ple a huge new lease of life,’ says Kate Faulkner, who warns against leav­ing it too late. ‘If you are forced into it, by fam­ily, fi­nances or be­cause of poor health, that’s when it can go pear-shaped. The best time to make this move is in your 50s or 60s. Af­ter 70, many peo­ple re­ally don’t want the emo­tional and phys­i­cal up­heaval of mov­ing.’

There are also pit­falls – par­tic­u­larly a lack of smaller prop­er­ties, such as bun­ga­lows, that many peo­ple want to move into. Add in the costs of mov­ing and you may not have as much left to spare as you’d hoped. The tax im­pli­ca­tions – of giv­ing money to chil­dren, for ex­am­ple – also need to be dis­cussed with an in­de­pen­dent fi­nan­cial ad­viser (IFA).

But there are def­i­nitely op­por­tu­ni­ties if you are pre­pared to make the leap. ‘The big­gest sur­prise was how easy it ul­ti­mately proved to be,’ says Jane Jones. ‘The sort­ing that I’d dreaded was ac­tu­ally sur­pris­ingly cathar­tic, and it felt right to be hand­ing over the keys to a young fam­ily. Now we have a new home to­gether for this new stage in our mar­ried life.’

Trad­ing down from a de­tached house to a semi can re­lease £117,230 on av­er­age**

Liz Tay­lor

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