Before the pandemic, in the old pre-Covid world, living near relatives was a concept that many home buyers paid little regards to. In fact, travelling from one side of the UK to the other, or getting to Europe for the weekend, was normal and routine.
Grace Jephson of Stacks Property Search, comments: “It’s hard to believe just how quickly that freedom was taken from us. And how valuable it became to have family living nearby. While it’s likely that we will return to something approaching the old normal one day, it’s become clear that Lockdown gave many buyers time to reflect on what was really important to them.
“There’s been a full-on renaissance of ‘local’, and that applies to shopping, leisure, work, friends and family. And there are additional influences that have highlighted how important local has become. Environmental issues and our departure from the EU were already making us question whether travelling as much as we did was responsible, or desirable, or practical.”
Enquiries to Stacks Property Search’s country offices since the property market was unlocked have revealed a strong and widespread urge to buy property near other family members, parents to move to be nearer children or vice versa.
Grace says: “While this trend may be exaggerated in this immediate post-Lockdown era, there’s a strong likelihood that the inclination to be based near one’s nearest and dearest will become much more important than it has in the recent past.
“Pivotal moments that have always prompted a move to be closer to older or younger generations include the arrival of grandchildren, and when the oldest generation start to feel their age and are aware of vulnerabilities. The country is full of retired homeowners who felt perfectly happy in their old family homes who are now looking to downsize, preferably to be nearer children and grandchildren. And equally many working parents who have been working from home whilst home-schooling young children who would have been overwhelmingly grateful to have parents nearby to help out.
“However clear it might seem that you’re all on the same page, prescription is dangerous, and the potential for surprises is always on the horizon. Make sure you’re all clear about what you’re trying to achieve and make decisions collaboratively.
“Location is the first hurdle. Younger families may prefer a village or rural location, while the older generation who are downsizing might prefer to be closer to a wider range of facilities and transport. Accept these differences and factor them in. ‘Popping’ distance is unscientific but ideal. Is it close enough to pop over for a drink, to pick up the kids from school, to help out with a minor chore. This is the ideal distance, something in the region of a fifteen-minute drive.
“For those who are moving away from a family home, try various options on for size. Make sure you agree on the elements you want to recreate, and the ones you are happy to give up. It’s easy to assume that your partner is thinking along the same lines as you are – but it isn’t necessarily the case!
“It may seem that a property with an annexe is the perfect solution, but the reality of such an arrangement can fall short of the vision. Living so close to each other may be just too close, and finding a property that suits everybody’s needs can be tricky. If it turns out that this is a good plan for all, then make sure there are some very firm boundaries about how everyone behaves.”