Downsizing

What’s your next move?

There are many reasons why people often see retirement as a time to move house. But, whether it’s for a financial reason or a lifestyle choice, such a big step needs careful consideration. Here we look at some of the pros and the cons.

The argument for

Downsizing can make a lot of sense. For a start, if your kids have grown and flown the nest, you probably don’t need as much space. A smaller house needs less maintenance and usually means lower utility bills too. And conversely, for older, retired generations, a house that’s too big can quickly become a burden rather than a pleasure.

A house is very often a person’s biggest asset in retirement. So releasing capital can go a long way to finance the things you plan to do when you have more free time. Traveling the world. That dreamed-of sports car. More time enjoying hobbies. They all take money. And they also might just mean you’ll spend less time at home.

For some retirees, moving home can mean a complete change of life. For city dwellers who’ve always dreamed of country living, for example, the lure of fresh air, open roads and local farm shops can be too much. A complete change of pace can certainly lead to a happy retirement.

The argument against

Selling up and moving on, isn’t always the answer. Our houses may be financial assets but they are also our homes, filled with cherished memories of family life and time spent with friends. It’s all too easy to forget the emotional ties we can build over the years.

Once you’ve sold a house, there’s not usually any going back – especially if you move out of the area. The network of neighbours and local friends you took for granted won’t be so easily accessible. And the familiar old routines will have all changed. 

The financial aspects need careful consideration too. With stamp duty, legal and moving fees, alongside other associated costs, a house move in the UK can be expensive.

According to Rightmove’s online calculator (http://www.rightmove.co.uk/cost-of-moving-house.html), downsizing from a £500,000 house to a £400,000 house could easily cost around £23,000. That’s a sizeable chunk out of the £100,000 capital you may have planned to put away – before you’ve even considered changing furniture or any home improvements your new place might need.

A balanced approach

As with any big life decision, proceed with caution. Work out the real cost of moving house – both financial and emotional. And weigh it up against the potential benefits. When all’s said and done, home may still turn out to be where the heart is.

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According to the Office of National Statistics, house prices increased by almost 7% in the year up to December 2015.

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