Retirement Living and Assisted Living specialists, McCarthy & Stone, explore how the lack of downsizing options for over 55s is creating ‘Generation Stuck’ .
Downsizing was once the preserve of the ‘empty nesters’ who no longer needed so much space, but now it’s becoming the preferred option for many in later life who are looking to improve their lifestyle and make the most out of their retirement years.
At McCarthy and Stone, we recently commissioned an in-depth report into downsizing and found there is a huge demand for those in later life looking to downsize from their current property, with one in three (33%) UK homeowners aged 55 and over considering or expect to consider downsizing. However, a lack of suitable housing options is preventing them from moving, creating a ‘Generation Stuck’.
As part of the report, a YouGov survey found that the main motivations to downsize include lower property maintenance (56%), reduced bills (43%) and children leaving home (43%).
Moving to a smaller property was also found to play a significant role in planning a financially secure retirement. Almost three in 10 (29%) homeowners aged 55 and over expect to release more than £100,000 in equity from downsizing. The most common uses for the equity released was to boost savings, followed by using the extra money to enhance daily life.
The number of people over the age of 65 is due to increase by 50% to 17.2 million over the next 20 years, and the latest figures show that the UK will run out of homes for this demographic unless another 90,000 retirement homes are built in the next five years.
As the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder, we are calling for housing reforms under three main themes to help address what is a growing issue for the UK:
- Adequacy: Greater efforts to stimulate the supply of options for downsizing and moving in later life. For example, retirement housing could be given a classification to confer it enhanced planning status and give it exemption from a range of planning restraints.
- Affordability: The downsizing process could be made more affordable by exempting older households from stamp duty when they downsize. Other measures could include offering financial support for the costs associated with moving or revising the Help to Buy scheme to include ‘later-life buyers’ who face an affordability gap.
- Awareness: Advice and guidance could play a crucial role in increasing older households’ awareness of the options available, and the potential benefits of downsizing. As greater resources become available to help older people navigate the complexities of later life, such as pension freedoms or extended working lives, it will be important for the concept of housing to receive similar attention to help inform and empower people.
There are plenty of reasons why moving to a smaller property makes sense in retirement. Selling the larger family home can help release equity to supplement savings or pay off debts, and it can also reduce the hassle of home ownership with less rooms to clean and maintain, as well as help lower household costs.
McCarthy and Stone regularly revises the design and specification of its developments to create high quality later living environments that meet homeowners’ ever-changing expectations. This includes developing larger apartments in highly sought after areas, with more storage space, and schemes with more car parking spaces, stunning atriums to let in natural light, balconies and the inclusion of more glazing to facilitate views and a greater sense of space.
To find out more about McCarthy & Stone, please visit mccarthyandstone.co.uk.