Why right-sizing is an option in retirement

Many older people still live in a large family home that they simply don’t need any more. Their children have grown and gone, and they have either expanded their lifestyle to fill the space, or more commonly, they have shut the door to unused bedrooms, and now live in just part of the property.

Yet they still have all of the heating bills, all of the council tax and all of the mortgage to pay for, as well as all of the cleaning and maintenance of a large home.

The thought of selling your house fast and downsizing comes easily to some, but not all. So what if you don’t want to downsize but want to move from the family home?


‘I don’t want to downsize’

Even if they admit that their current home is just too big for them, the idea of ‘downsizing’ still feels too negative for many people to consider. This is, after all, supposed to be your golden years, and so accepting less and compromising on size and space feels like a backwards step. Downsizing is associated with old age, granny flats and bungalows, not the full and active retirement you’ve been working for all your life.

But what if you thought of it differently?

What if you called it ‘right-sizing’, rather than downsizing. What if you moved to a home that was just right for you and your current lifestyle, with a right-sized number of rooms, right-sized bills and a right-sized level of upkeep.


The right-sizing revolution

Several major homebuilders have begun to think this way, creating homes aimed at people who don’t need multiple bedrooms anymore, but aren’t quite ready for the retirement home. For example, there are home builders out there who have introduced fewer bedrooms but at a higher specification.

With these homes, right sizing is about quality of life, not quantity of rooms. They still have a guest room for when your family come to stay, but they don’t waste space on multiple bedrooms for the kids anymore. Instead of a three-bed home with a family bathroom, they use the same space for just two larger bedrooms, both en-suite.


Right-size your finances

One of the biggest advantages of right-sizing is that not only will you cut your bills, you will also release some money from the sale of your old home to fund your retirement. This makes much more sense than getting involved in an equity release scheme just so that you can keep your big old house.

Equity release may seem like a good idea, giving you cash to spend without losing your home, but the costs soon mount up. Unlike a normal mortgage, equity release interest rates are often cumulative, which means that the amount you owe rises rapidly. You are guaranteed not to lose your home while you are alive, or to ever owe more than it is worth, but you will have nothing left to pass on to your loved ones, and you won’t be able to use your home to fund better quality nursing home if you ever need it.

Selling your old home now, and using part of the proceeds to buy a home that is right for you, gives you the best of both worlds. You get access to some cash to enjoy your retirement, maybe seeing the world, taking a cruise, or just living the good life, plus you also get the reassurance of having some money invested in your new right-sized home if you need it, or an inheritance to leave behind if you don’t.


The problems of selling

Of course, selling your home isn’t easy, especially if it is an older property that needs work. Bringing it up to scratch can cost thousands, and cause extensive disruption to your life, and even then, with the average house sale taking 5 – 6 months, you could still find that your property sits on the market for months or even years afterwards. Then there’s the invasion of privacy that comes with constant viewers, plus the uncertainty of chains, down valuations and all the other hassles that come with selling a home. It’s no wonder so many people stay put, even though their home isn’t right for them.

To avoid all of this, many right-sizers are turning to homebuyers or property auctions  to get them moving. They may not get the full value of their home, but they do get a swift sale, with no costs, no hassle and no need to spend time and money on repairs and renovations. Time is precious when you reach retirement, and so it makes sense to get on with your life now rather than waiting around.


Right-size your home, right-size your life

Your former family home may be full of old memories, but chances are it’s full of problems too, so it’s time to get on and do something about it. Right-size your home and you can right-size your life, with a more affordable, more manageable property, and a little cash left over to create some great new memories. So what are your waiting for?

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