As the cost-of-living emergency tightens its screws, so pressure mounts on older homeowners to downsize and sell lifelong family homes. Quite aside from the lack of appropriate properties to move to, there are strong arguments to hold on to your homes rather, and utilise the space more effectively. Here are five good reasons why homeowners should not feel compelled to downsize.
1. You’ve worked hard all your life for this luxury, you deserve to keep it!
It takes hard graft to build your savings. According to one homebuying platform, it takes 11 years now for a typical buyer in London to save for a deposit on a home. Most likely you have moved several times in your life to gradually build up to bigger properties, paying off a burdensome mortgage, renovating, and living amid mess as you went. Finally, you got the home worked so hard for, and one that served your family well over the decades.
Though life has moved on somewhat, only you can judge the space you now need. Whether you have the same permanent number of occupants as you once did does not make it any less valuable to you. Perhaps you need the additional rooms for guests. Space may even be a health issue if you suffer from claustrophobia or agoraphobia. The point is that you strived to achieve the comforts you have now, and you deserve to enjoy them!
2. So many of your happy memories are tied to your home
From the more mundane cycles of eating and clearing, to the growth charts and milestones, all the highs and lows, the entire life story of your family, with all the laughter, love and tears involved, is woven around your home.
When your kids fly the nest, though your home may fall strangely silent, the rooms and everything in them can still hold their echoes, especially if you have since lost a loved one who was at the heart of it. For many, these memories are visceral. They transport you back in time to a happy place and are widely accepted as part of the healing process in bereavement. To wrench yourself away from that before you are ready can be emotionally traumatic and detrimental to your wellbeing.
3. Your home is a great means of income
A staggering one in five homeowners took out a loan in the past year, and we all know the growing anxiety over inflation and soaring bills. If you have retired or if you are living on limited funds, and you need to ensure an ongoing income, downsizing may not be your best economic solution. Lodging fees for your space could be of greatest immediate benefit to you while your home remains a retirement asset that continues to increase in value.
If you are willing to have a lodger, then offering a room at full market value can bring you, on average, roughly £750 per month in London or £600 elsewhere in the UK, and you are not limited to one lodger.
4. Your spare room offers a great way to get company or help
As socially busy as you are, and as much as your family support you, family and friends don’t always have the time to give you that little extra company or help at home that you might sometimes crave. Using a spare room to find that could be just what you need.
Sites exist to find older homeshare companions such as through the over 40s homeshare site Cohabitas.com. But if you want to find a compatible homesharer of any age who is happy to provide company or practical help as well as giving you an income, then new matching site Hapipod.com offers just that. In their living arrangement homesharers offer up to 8 hours a week of their time plus they pay you an affordable room fee of up to £350 per month. The help can be with anything from upkeep to IT, shopping, cooking or pet-sitting. People match by background, personality and shared interests, and homesharers can be of any age over 18. So, for example, a retired medical professional could look for a young nurse who is also vegetarian and shares her love of art or fitness.
5. Your home can still help challenge the housing crisis
If you are prepared to offer a spare room affordably in exchange for a lodger’s time, you would be helping the country tackle the shortage of housing, and possibly even creating a mentoring opportunity for one of millions of people on restricted incomes.
There are 3.4 million young adults (age 20–34 year) who cannot afford market rents, and many more people in temporarily difficult circumstances such as relationship break-ups, who are also desperately in need of cheaper accommodation. Many could never afford your house in their entire lifetimes, so you downsizing would not help them, but they could gain so much from living with you while you are in it.
Andrea Frankenthal is the founder of Hapipod.com, an online matching site for compatible homesharers to connect and exchange time or help for affordable rooms. Hapipod enables people of all ages and means to enhance their home lives. It is FREE to register, set up a profile and see who’s available. Members only need pay the one-off ID check fee and subscription if and when they see someone of interest.
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