When the kids have grown up and left you and you’re rattling around in the family home that suddenly seems too large, for some people maybe it’s time to consider a new, and different, property that will cost less to run and will also suit a new lifestyle.
There seems to have been a sea change in the attitude towards retirement among quite a few Britons. This could be the time when they decide to travel, to have adventures, to explore abroad (or at home – Scotland, Wales or Ireland are all great destinations when you have the time to wander.)
With 70 years old having become the new 50, one section of today’s retirees is much more likely to chuck away the suit and tie and instead put on jeans, a T-shirt and trainers. They dump their briefcase and hang a bag containing a laptop, an iPad Mini and an iPhone on their shoulder as they EasyJet off to Italy, Portugal, Spain, France or even further afield.
So where does this leave their property ambitions? Rather than moving permanently to a retirement home, and saving their funds to leave to their children, a new trend seems to show that they sell the family home and use the money to invest in a small one- or two-bed apartment in a project which may be labelled a retirement development in the advertisements. Actually, this probably means a ‘lock up and leave’ home with a warden who’ll keep an eye on it when they’re away.
They then have the luxury of being able to travel, rent an apartment in an overseas development, get to know an area, meet some like-minded people of different nationalities, think about learning another language and possibly buying a small home overseas. This could be another easy-to-maintain apartment or small house in a village or town with a selection of facilities. In the meantime, they have the security of knowing they can return to their UK property whenever they want.
And what about the children? What will they think? What will be left for them in the future? With the Internet and software such as Skype and FaceTime, they’ll be able to keep in touch with their parents as often as they want. In addition, they’ll inherit two saleable properties and in the meantime they’ll be able to have foreign holidays abroad with their parents.
Of course, there are people for whom the idea of leaving the place where they’ve lived for a number of years, saying goodbye to friends and, in the case of living abroad learning a new language, can certainly be a difficult decision to make.
For them, such a dramatic lifestyle change as spending at least part of each year abroad could cause them to worry about not knowing anyone in their adopted country and if they’ve always lived in Britain, maybe staying closer to home would be best, especially if they still have close ties in the UK.
On the other hand, it’s worth remembering that the minute anyone has a home abroad, a stream of family and friends will no doubt find the time to travel to see them to such an extent that they’ll be glad to close the front door when the visitors leave and have their home to themselves!
Whether the retiree chooses to buy a property in either the UK or abroad or both, the procedure should be treated in the same way. These rules will help them to end up with the house or apartment they really want:
- Don’t rush into any decisions. If you are unsure about where to buy, Britain or abroad, why not rent for a month or two, get to know a new place, see if you like the locals and then think about making a decision
- Don’t allow anyone to try and force your hand. You now best what you want
- If you are looking abroad, check out different countries and then individual areas
- When you find somewhere you really like (UK or overseas), look at a variety of properties
- Get to know the local village/town and its facilities
- Take photos of the property you like the most and look at them in the cold light of day. Does it still excite you? If so, this may well be the one
- Check out the history of the property. Has it got clear title? (Make sure the vendor can legally sell if to you)
- Is the property free of any debts? (In some countries in Europe, debts can remain with the property rather than the vendor!)
- Have any structural changes been made to the building? If so, were they done legally?
- Check out the area of land that comes with the property
- Above all, don’t be too embarrassed to ask and ask questions. And don’t hand over money without your solicitor’s knowledge (and consent)
- Above all, use a solicitor who is independent of the estate agent, the developer or the vendor and who is acting only for you
All of this won’t necessarily cost a fortune and providing you take care, going through the process of buying property needn’t be stressful. It’s as complicated or as simple as you choose to make it. Enjoy your retirement!