Retirement and me: Man, 80, shares 'best decision' he and wife made to make 'life easier'

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One such pensioner, David, spoke exclusively to about the positive impact downsizing has had on the lives of both him and his wife. David, 80, now lives in a retirement villages community and he describes downsizing as “the best decision” he and his wife ever made.

This decision was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, when he spent a lot of time on the upkeep of his large house, which was beginning to take its toll. His wife had also been newly diagnosed with dementia.

Since David and his wife decided to downsize, his life has become much more manageable. He described moving to Lime Tree Village, a Retirement Villages Group community in Warwickshire, as having “saved his life”, as he has found a sense of community, as well as support in caring for his wife.

On taking the plunge and downsizing to a retirement property, David said: “My wife and I were very comfortable where we lived but I began to feel I couldn’t keep up with things like the gardening, so it was a case of trading comfort for getting a grip on a new life. It was a difficult decision, but now I feel I have more time to enjoy life.

“Our improved quality of life has made life easier. I can cope much better, particularly as I have care and support on hand. We have loads of support here – I have good friends and a life here. I’m not bored, not lonely, and have good health.”

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RVG’s research shows that one in three (33 percent) older adults looking to downsize are doing so because their current property is too difficult to maintain, with two thirds (65 percent) recognising that their property is too large at their current stage of life.

One in five (22 percent) are seeking greater financial freedom by unlocking equity from their home. Research from Churchill Retirement Living found that the average pensioner could free up £150,000 from downsizing.

As well as downsizing, it appears that over 70s are taking further steps towards increasing their financial freedom to ensure they’re able to live their best retirement life, pursue goals, and stay active for longer.

More than one in ten (11 percent) are now taking a more active role in managing their finances, while those with debts have reduced their debt by an average of £866 since March 2020, a total of £1.7billion across the UK. Almost a quarter (23 percent) are saving more than ever before.

In light of a surge in demand for rural properties, a shortage of homes for sale, and rising property prices driven by the pandemic, older people downsizing to homes more appropriate for their retirement lifestyle could help free up more homes in the property market for families looking to gain space.

Some seven percent of people aged over 70 reported that the last 16 months of the pandemic have helped them raise the subject of moving out of the family home with their loved ones. However, many people may still find this a difficult conversation and put it off, staying in the family home for longer than is suitable.

Retirement Villages Group have encouraged everyone – young and old – to open up better conversations about life choices in older age and start removing the stigma associated with downsizing.

They have also called for Government to introduce a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) waiver for downsizers, to actively support people in making this choice and paving the way for families to confidently explore options that support independent, active later living choices.

Will Bax, CEO, Retirement Villages Group, commented on the findings and urged the Government to make downsizing easier for older people.

He said: “The pandemic has prompted many of us to rethink where we are in life leading to a huge surge in interest for our retirement communities. Our research reinforces this trend, suggesting that more people are planning for the future, getting on top of their finances and exploring their property options.

“Whilst downsizing remains a difficult conversation for many families, for those that seize the moment it’s a massive step towards to financial freedom that enables people to live life on their terms, to pursue personal goals, and stay active and independent for longer.

“Helping people to make the decision to downsize is also a huge opportunity to rebalance the UK property market. Freeing up the top rung of the property ladder at a time when our ongoing shortage of housing supply continues to create heat in the market, despite the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“This is a win-win and we call on Government to do more to support older people in making the choice to move into a new breed of later life communities across the country; aspirational, connected, thriving places, that play a vital role in their local neighbourhoods.”

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