A recent report by the Office for National Statistics identified that 74% of homes owned by the over-65s are mortgage-free, giving them huge buying power should they choose to downsize, although many are reluctant to give up the family home and all its memories.
So, taking time to plan as one approaches retirement, evaluating lifestyle and the importance of retaining independence is an opportunity to assess how to manage future quality of life. Rather than wait until that vital independence is threatened by reduced mobility, take action early, discussing ideas with family and working out some costings.
Develop a plan to upgrade facilities for the long term such as: installing a stairlift, refitting the bathroom to include a walk-in shower with a seat, rather than retaining a bath which can be difficult to get in and out of as one ages; changing the kitchen layout, replacing a stand-alone cooker with one at eye level and exchange cupboards for drawers, making it easier to access essentials without having to bend down, or replacing heavy cast iron pans for modern, light, stainless steel could be another advantage.
Clear the loft. Even for fit people, climbing up and down a fold-down ladder, clutching items to add to ‘storage’ can be risky! Depending on quality and potential value, take unwanted items to a charity shop, give to family, or sell via the internet or at antique fairs, when these are revived.
Redesign the garden, removing trip hazards, making it easily manageable to enhance the space for continued enjoyment. Make a mental note to ban use of power tools, especially hedge cutters which can be dangerous; it’s worth employing someone to do major maintenance.
Reducing from one each to a single car for joint use may not be a popular measure for couples who like the freedom of pursuing their own interests independently – but it is worth putting it on the list for future consideration, and exploring different models.
Retirement is often an opportunity to travel, having time to explore places not possible during working lives, in just a two-week break. Draw up a checklist for cruises, safaris, road trips, visiting friends and family at home and overseas.
Alternatively, should you downsize, and/or purchase a holiday home abroad, or sacrifice some of your hopes to help family with their own finances? As the UK emerges from the current crisis, helping young people get onto the housing ladder could become the first priority.
Evaluating all the options – and their affordability – is key to a happy retirement.
Equity release could be the solution to realising your plans, without prejudicing income levels.
Our advisers at Premier Equity Release are available to discuss the most appropriate options based on your current and future finances, ensuring best value for your retirement.