If, when and where to downsize can be tricky decisions, so challenge yourself with these home truths first.
Downsizing in retirement could be the kick-start you need to get on with the next chapter in your life. A fresh start with new hobbies, friends, or expanding family ties.
It’s not for everyone, of course, but the chances are your home is one of your biggest assets and could be a welcome supplement to your retirement income.
Retirement is personal, and every decision you make will be just that, but if you’re thinking about relocating or downsizing for your later years, it’s worth having a good think about your situation now and in the future.
Our property expert Phil Spencer and Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, at Hargreaves Lansdown, have teamed up to give you seven questions to ask yourself before committing to a step down the ladder.
1. How will I manage running costs?
Your income will probably go down in retirement, so regular bills will take up a bigger chunk of your monthly income. If your basic living expenses aren’t leaving you with enough left over to enjoy your retirement, downsizing to a cheaper house could be the answer.
Our running costs tools can be really useful here. It can be found on every sale listing and gives you an estimate of household bills including council tax, utilities and even help with mortgage calculations.
2. Do I really need and value all this space?
Some people have hobbies or families which make a bigger home more sensible. But if you have rooms you only ever go into to clean, then it’s a good sign you’re ready to downsize.
3. Is the layout right for me?
Bedrooms are usually the most important factor to consider in a family home. But with potentially fewer people, and the stairs posing more of a challenge, you need to think about whether ground floor living might be a better option.
Although this might seem far away at the moment, it’s important to look as far ahead as you can. We can help you find the right property for your needs with Advanced Search, where you can use the keyword option to only hunt for ‘bungalows’, for example.
4. Is the area still right for me?
Your bigger property on the outskirts of town might offer great space and privacy for a family. But as you get older, you might appreciate a flat or smaller property just a few minutes from shops, friends or family.
If you’re unfamiliar with the area you’re searching, try our travel time tool. It helps find properties for sale within a certain journey time of any given location depending whether you are travelling by car, bike, public transport or on foot.
5. Am I keeping on top of the house?
For gardeners and DIY hobbyists a retirement of pruning, planting, painting and tinkering could be the best kind. While there are plenty of people who can be found up a ladder in their 80s, some just don’t want the extra hassle.
A new build or retirement home could be an easier and more affordable place to look after. Again, you can use our Advanced Search to refine your hunt for specialist retirement homes or new builds.
6. Would I rather spend the money on something else?
It doesn’t have to be a huge struggle for downsizing to make sense. Your priorities might have changed. You might want to help your children out, or even give your grandchildren a boost towards owning their own home.
Some gifts can be given free from UK tax, and others might be subject to inheritance tax (IHT). Find out more about gifting to loved ones, and children.
Whatever your motive, downsizing can be a perfect way to free up some cash so you can spend more on the people or things you care about and enjoy throughout your retirement.
7. Will I be up to it in a few years’ time?
If you’re just putting it off, try not to leave it too late. Moving takes a lot of effort, not least settling into a new home and getting to know the neighbours.
Successful downsizing needs to be done at a time when you have all the energy and family to support you with the change.
If you’re still not sure if downsizing is right for you there’s no harm in regularly reviewing your situation, to see if it changes. Retirement is personal, so there’s no right or wrong answer.