Scaling down for the golden years

When your children have moved on and your nest feels emptier by the day, it might be time to scale down to enjoy the golden age of retirement without all the hassle. Many retirees have found that moving to a smaller property forces them to scale down on their possessions too, which leads to a better quality of life and an appreciation of life’s simple pleasures. It mustn’t be forgotten, however, that selling your property and moving on is not without its costs. We give you our top tips for deciding if you should move to a smaller property for your retirement years.

"You need to establish the current value of your existing home, calculate your share of any closing costs, what the financing costs are of the new home, and then calculate all the additional costs of moving, what your heating and cooling bills will be in the new home, and what if any repairs or improvements are needed in the new home," says president of Caring Transitions, Chris Seman.

If you find that the savings will be quite small, it then becomes a question of where you’ll be happiest. Some retirees have even found that when they cut their housing costs, they end up spending more on luxuries, so it also becomes a question of what is most important to a happy retirement: living in your memory-filled family home, or having more money to spend on travelling and splashing out on entertainment? Some of the top considerations for what will make for a happy and comfortable retirement include:

Living abroad: With the recent property bubble, you may well be able to make quite a profitable sale if you move to the Mediterranean. The lifestyle benefits are obvious (better climate, a more relaxed culture and new adventures), but don’t forget the hidden costs. If your children and family members won’t be able to visit often, you may need to budget for trips back to England to see them.

Emotional aspects: Moving is an extremely stressful event, and you may find that in your 60s you are less able to tolerate stress than you could in your 30s. There is also all the emotional pain of packing up the children’s bedrooms and giving away some of your wedding gifts so that you reduce your volume of possessions. Don’t forget that you’ll also want a place for children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren to visit from time-to-time, so don’t take those spare bedrooms too lightly. After all, a spare room can make the perfect space for yoga/painting/building miniature airplanes or writing the novel you’ve always planned to.

Accessibility and medical care: How you feel when you are 60 will be a lot different to how you feel when you are 80, but if you are deciding to scale down now, you need to remember that you are likely to stay in your new abode until you require high care. In other words, it makes more sense to purchase a bungalow or cottage in the country than it does to stay in a terrace with stairs in London. However, you will also need access to good health care, so be careful of moving to a remote location with poor transport links.

Scaling down and moving on for your retirement can be both a painful and rewarding experience. At the end of the day, you’ve earned the right to enjoy your retirement and a move might be just want you need to encourage you to travel more or take up new hobbies. Or you may find that by staying in your current home, these luxuries will be more accessible to you.

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