We have all spent far more time at home than we might have liked to in recent years, but it has given us an opportunity to take stock and consider whether we are really getting the most from our home. Is it a sanctuary where we feel safe and are able to engage in activities we enjoy or is it holding us back?
At each stage of our lives we have specific needs our home has to fulfil: the bachelor pad; the starter home; the family house; but what comes next? I work with many clients who express a wish to ‘stay in my home as long as I can’ but is it the best option? Perhaps your home does still provide you with everything you need but what are the signs that it might be time to think of a new start?
Are you able to manage the stairs, reach the cupboards, use the bathroom fully, and keep on top of the necessary cleaning and maintenance? If not, are there adaptations that could be made to make things easier? Could you get assistance from family/friends or employ someone to take over those tasks?
Are you able to have friends and family over or get out and about in the local area to engage in activities you enjoy? Do you feel supported and part of a community?
Are you living in a property that is expensive to heat and maintain? Are you able to meet these costs from your current/anticipated income?
Have you always wanted to live somewhere special but been restricted by family or work commitments that you perhaps no longer have?
Is your current property likely to still meet your needs in 5 or 10 years’ time?
If your current property is unlikely to meet your needs in the mid- to long-term, it is advisable to make a move before the need to do so becomes urgent; this gives you the maximum flexibility and control over your next steps. If we wait until a living situation becomes impossible, an urgent move can be stressful and upsetting for all concerned. If you are moving to a new town or area, doing so while you are still in good health allows you to take maximum advantage of the opportunities in your new home, to make friends and become part of the community.
Moving from a property where you have made memories can be a daunting prospect but don’t forget, many of the things that hold those memories for us can still be accessed after a move – photographs and treasured possessions, a favourite place to walk or visit, an old haunt or a special restaurant. A move to a new property brings opportunities for making new memories.
Don’t take on too much yourself – make use of tradespeople, house clearance companies and removal firms to do the de-cluttering and heavy lifting for you. Use a trusted local firm of solicitors for your conveyancing and reputable local estate agents to market your property and get you the best deal. If you are releasing funds on a downsize, consider consulting an independent financial advisor for investment options or a specialist solicitor if making gifts or joining other family members in the purchase.
Sources of advice
Age UK has a wealth of resources accessible online and over the telephone. Choose CQS-certified solicitors/conveyancers for a sale/purchase of a property, choose solicitors that are accredited by Solicitors for the Elderly and/or Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners for gift/trust advice, and IFAs that are SOLLAS accredited or that have been personally recommended to you for investment advice.
Happy house hunting!
By Faye Evans, Partner at Churchers Solicitors LLP (STEP and SfE accredited)