What later life home buyers should be thinking about

Warren Lewis
7th June 2018
old fella

Buying a property that suits you in your 60s and 70s, that will continue to meet your needs in the years beyond, is a challenge that is being faced by more and more buyers as the baby boomers come of a certain age.

Bill Spreckley of Stacks Property Search says, “The baby boomer generation tend to be practiced and efficient buyers. They will probably have owned several properties in their lifetime, from first homes and flats, to family houses, and a good few in between. But buying an empty nest or retirement (or semi-retirement) property can be tricky – ironically because of the lack of essential criteria.

In their past, 'salt and pepper buyers' have had to factor in working lives, schooling lives, and space for family. But a property at this stage of life can generally be smaller and its location can be less restricted. Buyers are planning a life that probably has more leisure in it than ever before. Furthermore, it may well be a ‘last home’, which is a daunting proposition in itself. So where to start?

Communications are all important, not just so you can get to places, but so that people can get to you. Your family are important, but don’t rely on them, they have busy lives, and it’s not a good idea to spend your latter years of relative freedom waiting for them to come and visit!

Choose a place that allows you to get to a city or large town easily – using taxis and trains, not just by car. The choices this gives you will be liberating.

Think about what you want to spend your time doing – what will give you a sense of purpose and make you really happy. Whether it’s walking the dogs, riding, going to the races, playing golf, sailing, getting involved in local community events such as WI, bridge, book clubs, hacking and slashing at a little patch of woodland, growing vegetables, seeing new plays and exhibitions. Whatever it is that floats your boat, make sure it’s easily accessible.

Remember, the idea of having restaurants and cafes on your doorstep may be attractive, especially if you’ve been living in the middle of nowhere, but there’s only so much sitting about eating and drinking you can do in two or three decades!

Try and choose a location where you already have some connections. Establishing a completely new social life in retirement, without work or children to make connections, can be difficult.

The property itself can be a different kind of property to those you’ve chosen historically. You’ll probably need less bedrooms, but can focus instead on living / entertaining space, giving yourself the ergonomics you’ve always wanted, and perhaps his and hers living spaces to ease the journey into spending 24/7 with a partner. And bear in mind that at some stage in the future it may be necessary to create downstairs bedroom space.

A relatively low maintenance property is a good thing to aim for if you don’t want to make another move later in life. While the same goes for the property’s grounds, many people take a lot of pleasure out of having a great outdoors. Look for property that gives you this capacity, but where the extended garden isn’t high maintenance, or even better, is communal space and someone other than you is responsible for it!

A property that has good energy saving features will rule out unexpected costs at a time of life when income tends to be fixed.”

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