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Adapting your home during retirement

Category:
Your Life
Monday 25 July 2022

If you’re retired or coming up to retirement, you might be thinking about whether you want to stay in your home, move to a smaller property or relocate somewhere completely new.

Many retirees choose to downsize, often to a cheaper house, enabling them to benefit from equity they’ve built up in their current home. In fact, with the average house price in the UK standing at £277,000, downsizers are finding this can be a fairly lucrative option.

But some approaching retirement choose to stay in their current property for several reasons. This could be due to the sentimental value of the home, the lifestyle they enjoy in a particular area or to stay close to neighbours, friends and family.

If you want to make the most of your house for many years to come or you’re undecided about moving, we’ll take a look at ways you could adapt your property to suit you during your later years.

Home adaptations for seniors and those taking retirement can mean a variety of things to different people. But we’ll explore the main considerations when looking at ways you can adapt your home for life to ensure it remains a comfortable and enjoyable place to live.
 

Mobility

Although this might not be much of an issue now, accessibility is a key factor to consider if you’re intending on staying where you are. Unfortunately, becoming less mobile is an aspect of getting older, so it makes sense to future-proof your home as much as possible. This doesn’t mean fitting a bunch of hospital-style equipment to every wall or room – you could make subtle changes that will make getting around your house easier and safer when you get older.

Considering any potential barriers in your current home is the first step when thinking about mobility home adaptations for independence. Here are some elements you might want to assess:

Stairs – This includes both external steps, such as those leading from your door to the path or driveway, and internal stairs. Adding outside lighting could make exterior steps safer while handrails both inside and out will increase accessibility. There is also the option of a stair-lift if stairs become more of a problem in the future.

Bathroom – This is often a major factor when making home adaptations for independence, especially if the space currently consists of a bath with an overhead shower. You could think about adding a modern wet room for easy access and contemporary rails to assist mobility.

Downstairs extension – If you have the space and the funds, a ground-floor extension could offer an ideal area for a downstairs bathroom, toilet or even a spare bedroom. These additions could also come in handy if you have the grandkids over to stay.

Storage – While many people tend to store items away in unused rooms such as the attic or cellar, it’s a good idea to sort through your belongings and relocate what you might need to more accessible places.
 

Security

As people get older, they often feel more vulnerable in their homes – especially if living alone. While it’s a good idea to make your home as secure as possible at every stage in life, there are a few ways to add to your peace of mind as you enter retirement:

Alarm system – You might already have a quality burglar alarm but, if not, now could be the time to get one fitted. Make sure to also cover outbuildings such as a garage, particularly if you keep valuables stored there.

Lighting – Motion-sensor lighting is a good deterrent, and you could also ensure your outdoor spaces are well lit at night.

Video doorbells – These allow you to see who’s at the door before you answer it, so you can avoid opening it to salespeople or someone you might not know.

Window and door locks – Keep doors locked even while you’re in and be mindful of leaving windows open, especially at night. If your locks are old, it might be worth investing in newer, more secure devices from a reputable company.

Community alarm system – The government offers free home security for pensioners in certain areas of the UK, consisting of a community alarm to help support independent living. The government website can tell you whether your local council offers this service.
 

Retirement hobbies at home

One focus of adapting your home to suit your retirement needs is likely to be how you plan on using your space now you’re no longer working. You might want to dedicate a room or area to a particular hobby, such as converting a basement into a sewing room or creating an art studio for painting. Just remember to bear accessibility in mind.

If you’ve made use of a home office over the past few years but no longer have the same needs, you could transform that into a reading room or even a walk-in wardrobe! And if you have grandchildren over to stay, you might want to focus on setting up a bedroom or playroom for them.

The garden is also another area you might wish to adapt or improve. If you plan on spending a lot of time planting and attending to shrubs and flowers, make sure your green patch is easily accessible. You might want to add paths, raised flowerbeds or extra seating so you can enjoy your outdoor space.
 

Can you release equity for home improvements?

If you’re considering ways to adapt your home for life and want to make some changes, you might be wondering how you’ll afford it. Releasing some of the equity in your property could enable you to future-proof your home with home adaptations for independence, security and mobility.
 

Lifetime mortgage benefits

Your specialist equity release adviser will explain:

  • You can unlock cash from your home, tax-free, to help meet your needs in later life

  • You’ll always retain full ownership of your home and can stay in it for as long as you wish with a Key lifetime mortgage

  • You can choose to make reduced or no monthly repayments to suit your circumstances

  • You’ll never owe more than your home’s worth with a Key lifetime mortgage

  • You may be able to remortgage your plan in the future to release further funds or secure a better interest rate, although this isn’t guaranteed and may be subject to early repayment charges

 

Drawbacks

Your equity release adviser will also outline the following important things to think about:

  • A lifetime mortgage is a loan secured against your home and subject to compound interest, meaning the amount you owe can grow quickly

  • Equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits

  • Equity release may leave you with limited or no property equity remaining

  • Equity release will reduce your financial options in the future

  • A lifetime mortgage is a long-term financial product and is not designed to be fully repaid until the death or entry into long-term care of the last remaining borrower, otherwise early repayment charges may apply


Things to consider

  • All our equity release advice relates to Key lifetime mortgages only - a loan secured against your home

  • The loan, plus compound interest, is typically repaid through the sale of the property when the last remaining applicant passes away or moves into long-term care

  • £1,299 advice fee only payable on completion

Page last updated: Monday 15 April 2024