Should I be downsizing home or not? That is the question. What do you think is the right time to downsize home? Is it something you've done or intend to do at some stage?
It's a question I'm trying to find an answer to at the moment.
This year I will be 73 and while I'm in relatively good health and shape for my age I'm beginning to find the garden particularly difficult and it's becoming a chore rather something I enjoy.
I have more bedrooms than I need and the living room is particularly spacious and I love it but I can no longer decorate it myself or any other room for that matter if I'm honest. Yes my days of climbing ladders. painting ceilings and walls are over and professional decorators are expensive.
Smaller rooms and less of them would be more cost effective to decorate and to heat which is the other consideration. My house is nearly 60 years old and although I have all the usual things like double glazing, cavity wall insulation etc. it doesn't hold it's heat like a new build. And I seem to have a permanent list of repairs and maintenance that needs doing.
I have several friends that have made the decision for downsizing home recently and the message coming across is don't leave it too long. One couple who are just turned 80 recently downsized from a 4 bedroomed detached house into a 2 bedroomed bungalow and they said the only regret they had was that they hadn't done it 10 years ago.
According to a survey carried out in recent years by retirementmove.co.uk/ the right age for downsizing home is 64. This is the age when you're mentally able to cope with moving house and all that it entails. Personally that seems far too early to me but I guess it depends on your individual circumstances both financially and physically. If you still have a mortgage downsizing home to somewhere smaller can enable you to pay off the mortgage and be free of debt. If you're having problems physically then an apartment or bungalow may be better than a house with stairs. But I'm in neither of these situations.
I'm actually finding it quite depressing to think about downsizing as it's almost making me feel as though it's the beginning of the end. When in fact I should be looking at it as the start of a new beginning and I'm trying to get excited about it but I'm not quite there yet.
I have several friends who are adamant they won't be downsizing home as they love it too much and would rather just reduce the number of rooms they use and if necessary would prefer the equity release option to the downsizing home option. However equity release is another conversation and one that at the moment I don't feel comfortable with because of the escalating interest charges which can eat away at the amount of inheritance you would be able to leave behind particularly if you live too long. At the current rates of interest whatever you borrow will double within 14 years of taking out the loan. What if you live till your 100? You could outlive the equity in your home.
Moving house at any time is very stressful and quite an upheaval so why am I chewing this over and trying to make a decision now?
It's because opportunity is knocking at my door. I live in a small village which has more than it's fair share of large family homes with very few smaller 1-2 bedroomed houses and even less of a choice on apartments. I really don't want to have to move away from the village as I've lived here for nearly 25 years now and I'm definitely not ready to give up on a garden completely.
3 years ago there was a small development of new houses built on the edge of the village by the local Housing Association which were for sale on a shared ownership basis for village people trying to get on the property ladder. My Daughter bought a 2 bedroomed house on the development which is surrounded by open countryside with the most beautiful views and a small manageable garden.
At the time she moved in I said to her this house would be perfect for me when you've moved on to something better. Well it looks like that time is imminent as her and her partner are now looking to each sell their individual houses and buy something bigger together. If I let this opportunity go I might not get another chance. But at the same time I'm not sure whether I'm quite ready to give up what I have yet.
As with everything there are compromises to be made. Firstly I didn't think I would qualify for one of these houses in any case as I said they were initially aimed at first time buyers trying to get onto the property ladder. We did hope that she may get the right to buy the property outright at some stage but because it's a 'Greenfield Development' that's not an option at the moment.
However there is an option for older people looking to downsize home to buy 80% share with no rent to pay on the remaining 20%. That would release quite a lot of equity for me. Perhaps I could consider going on that world cruise after all! But not sure whether I like the idea of not owning the house completely. But is it any different to having a mortgage on the property? You don't own all the house until the mortgage is paid off do you?
If I put my sensible hat on it makes sense financially but am I ready?
It makes sense to do it while I'm reasonably physically fit because we all know this could change in an instant.
Perhaps you've already made the move downsizing home and could give me some advice.
I've heard people say decluttering and downsizing home has made them feel liberated.
At the end of the day does it really matter whether you own a home outright or not if it's suits your needs?
What age do you think is right to downsize your home?