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