Downsizing in later life

Research highlights what people consider before making the decision

Data has revealed that while a third of over-45s (29%) say they have plans to downsize in the next five years, just 13% of over-75s have actually made the move[1]. As people assess their retirement finances, the research highlights the ideal age to downsize is 66. However, ties to the community, their homes, and the security it brings mean that most people choose not to proceed.

The research also examined attitudes towards downsizing to a smaller home, considering potential financial benefits such as releasing property wealth and reducing bills. It also explored concerns about falling house prices and losing touch with cherished memories.

Community ties and financial concerns
While 29% of over-45s are considering downsizing, a significant 70% are keen to stay in their current homes for the rest of their lives. A third (31%) believe that their house is the right size for their needs and a smaller house would not work for them. Furthermore, 25% are already in their “forever home” and have no desire to move.

A notable 23% of respondents feel attached to their community and do not want to leave, while 22% find the mere thought of moving exhausting. Additionally, almost one in five (16%) say that they wouldn’t see any financial benefit from downsizing once the estimated £9,611 costs are considered.

Growing attachment to home with age
Homeowners’ attachment to their property intensifies with age. Among those aged 75-84, 52% said their home provides reassurance because they know how everything works, twice the number of 45-54-year-olds (26%) who felt this way.

Community plays a crucial role as well, with 57% stating that their home boosts their confidence due to familiarity with their neighbours and surroundings. This figure is significantly higher than the 31% of younger respondents (45-54 years old) who shared this sentiment.

Economic drivers behind downsizing decisions
Interestingly, economic factors often drive downsizing decisions more than wanting to live in an age-appropriate property. Almost half (43%) of those looking to downsize or who have already done so cite easier property upkeep as a reason. Meanwhile, 38% aim to reduce the cost of running their home, and 27% seek to improve their retirement finances.

One in five (17%) mentioned that the cost of living had pushed them to consider downsizing, 8% did it to release cash to support their families, and 5% saw the proceeds as a means to repay debt.

Balancing economics and emotional attachments
As people age, downsizing is often suggested to release some of the value tied up in their homes and find a more suitable property. However, this research indicates that their home, along with the community they live in, offers confidence, reassurance, and security. The primary driver behind any potential move tends to be economic necessity.

For some, downsizing is the right answer. For others, finding ways to boost their retirement finances while staying in the home they love—and can afford to adapt—and the community they know is a better option. A home is much more than a roof over your head; it provides security, confidence, and reassurance as people age.

Source data:
[1] Key Retirement Solutions Ltd – research conducted with 1,000 homeowners aged 45-plus – 27.03.24

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