Some 1.8 million over-55s are actively thinking about downsizing their home earlier as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research from Audley Villages.
The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have caused many people to reconsider both how and where they live. The research shows that many over-55s are making new plans about the homes they would like to live in as they get older and plan to make home moves soon.
Additionally, 25% of over-55s considering downsizing are aiming to do so in the next 12 months and that figure jumps to 54% within the next two years.
In separate research carried out by Audley in 2019, just 6% of over-55s who were still living in their family home thought they would move home in the next one to two years, highlighting a potential shift in mindset from the older generation.
When looking at the primary motivators for downsizing, 55% decided to think about downsizing earlier so they can live in a home more suitable to their changing needs, while 53% wish to live in a property which requires less maintenance than their current home.
Location is also a key driver, with 34% of over-55s saying they want to move to a better location and 29% wanting to be closer to family and friends.
Conversely, Audley’s research last year showed the biggest barrier for over-55s wishing to downsize is a lack of sustainable properties. When asked how the UK can address housing shortages, 48% said there needs to be more suitable housing options for older people. Some 42% believe there should be greater support for older people who want to downsize their property.
With many people reassessing their life choices in the face of the pandemic, Nick Sanderson, chief executive officer of Audley Group, says: “For older people, living in a property that is easy to maintain, and will adapt to their changing needs, instantly removes a layer of stress.”
“We have seen a surge in demand for our retirement villages during the pandemic and the average age of the buyers that are moving in has fallen this year, as more and more people realise that making this move early can be life-changing.”
“The difficulty is that there are not enough of these properties available. The demand for specialist retirement properties far outweighs the supply, and that’s not likely to change quickly enough without radical housing and planning reform that moves its laser vision from first time buyers and focuses on properties that that can make a real difference to the older population, while simultaneously freeing up family houses for younger people,” he concludes.