Where ‘young’ downsizers go to live the dream (and release the most cash)


View of Maud Foster five sail windmill in Boston, Lincolnshire

The property market has long been a fundamental way for British families to build wealth, and the past decade has been no exception.

In 2013 the average detached property cost £268,000, according to the Office for National Statistics. Today, that figure has jumped to £457,222. While not everyone would have managed to ride this wave to the top of the property ladder, many baby boomers are now in a large family home – and sitting on a tidy amount of equity.

Rather than waiting until they are no longer able to maintain a large property before making a move to somewhere smaller, many “young” downsizers in their 50s and 60s are selling up to release some of the cash tied up in their homes.

Moving from an average detached home to a smaller property in one of the 15 most popular downsizer locations could release between £120,000 and £350,000.

Whether you use this windfall to bolster your retirement pot, help your children on to the property ladder, or simply treat yourself to a yearly luxury cruise, there are plenty of things to consider before making the move – not least picking a location to see you through to old age.

St James church, Louth town, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, England

East Lindsey is the most popular place for those in their 50s and 60s to downsize – Dave Porter / Alamy

The best downsizing locations

The most popular location for younger downsizers aged 50 to 60 is East Lindsey, according to research by Hamptons. With the coast on the east and the Lincolnshire Wolds (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) to the west, nearly one in five people making the move to this area were in their 50s.

Homes cost an average of £235,000 in East Lindsey, so downsizing from an average-priced detached property would release around £220,000.

Many downsizers won’t be looking for an average home, however.

A key part of making the jump is to move to a property that is less maintenance and closer to local amenities, so a terraced house or a flat may be more suitable. Terraced houses cost £157,000 (releasing just over £300,000 if selling the average detached UK property), while flats cost £106,000.

Another hotspot is Torridge, in the south west, with those aged between 50 and 60 accounting for one in six movers. Property is slightly more costly here than in East Lindsey: the average house costs £309,000, while £230,000 would get you a terraced house and £153,000 could buy you a flat.

Bideford, North-west Devon England

Being near to the North Devon coastline and national parks makes places like Bideford a draw – pjhpix/iStock

Both areas have similar selling points. North Devon’s heritage coast runs along the north of the district, while Dartmoor National Park and Cornwall are its neighbours.

In fact, many of the regions that feature in the top 15 spots for downsizers in their 50s have comparable qualities – many are coastal, surrounded by countryside and bustling with the type of smaller towns and villages that many envisage for their retirement.

And they are certainly cheaper than London and its surrounding areas, in a sign that younger downsizers are quitting the rat race for a quieter, cheaper and more rural life.

Part of Ravenspoint road in Trearddur Bay, Anglesey

Anglesey is a hit because of its reasonably priced properties and beautiful scenery – Mark Youlden/Moment RF

“There hasn’t been much change in the sort of places where older households choose to move. Migration patterns are fairly well-entrenched,” said David Fell, lead analyst at Hamptons.

“Older movers typically head towards cheaper rural areas where their money goes further and their neighbours are likely to be households from a similar sort of background.”


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How much money could you free up?

The most expensive downsizing top spot was the Derbyshire Dales, according to Hamptons. Terraced homes cost £259,000 in the East Midlands beauty spot, while flats cost an average of £191,000.

Encompassing the Peak District and some of the country’s loveliest villages, and within easy distance to the cities of Sheffield and Nottingham, it is easy to see why the area comes at a premium. Despite this, one in six of those moving here are in their 50s.

A picturesque village in the Hope Valley, Peak District national park. A narrow street with beautiful view of hills in the background.

One of the most expensive areas popular with pre-retirees is Derbyshire, with its close proximity to the Peak District – R A Kearton

Those downsizing from the average detached home will take a hit on the amount they release, however. Buying a terraced house would leave you with about £200,000, while you could get a windfall of £270,000 if you bought a flat.

Boston, also in the Midlands, is where you can get the most bang for your buck. You can buy a flat here for less than £100,000, and terraced houses in the area – which sits south of the Lincolnshire Wolds and near the east coast – cost little more, at £136,000.

Those selling an average family home and moving to Boston could release between £325,000 and £370,000.

What are the benefits of downsizing early?

For most people, the main benefit of downsizing in your 50s is a financial one.

If you move to a cheaper property and release the cash in your family home, this can be a welcome windfall as you get used to the idea of stopping work, and at a time when adult children are likely to be making big life changes. For those that are yet to pay off their mortgage, it can also be a quick way to get rid of a large monthly outgoing.

“I have seen people downsize to clear their mortgage and reduce their outgoings, and then gift some of their equity to the children to help them buy somewhere,” said Michelle Lawson, mortgage adviser and director at Lawson Financial.

Beautiful old village on the Isle of Wight

The average cost of a flat on the Isle of Wight is around £153,000 – Fazer44/Moment RF

The ongoing costs of a smaller home and garden should also be cheaper – it should be cheaper to heat, maintain, redecorate and (in theory) have cheaper council tax. Rita Kohli, managing director at The Mortgage Shop, said: “Downsizing often leads to a more manageable and cost-effective lifestyle, allowing for a focus on hobbies and community involvement.”

When choosing your new property, it’s important to make sure it is as “future-proof” as possible. Make sure the area has good public transport links, a range of supermarkets and shops, and decent community activities.

Historic buildings in the town of Holt, north Norfolk, England.

Give your chosen area a ‘future proof’ check: does it have good transport links, for example, and enough room for grandchildren to visit? – Education Images/Universal Images Group Editorial

Think about your future family, too. Rowan Frayling, managing director at J Finance, said: “It needs to be small enough to cope with in old age, but also still needs to be big enough to have current or future family come round. I’ve seen people downsize only to realise that an expanding family of grandchildren no longer fit.”

The pitfalls of selling up

Selling your family home isn’t without its downsides. Moving away from a property and an area that you are used to and that is full of memories is never easy, and many find the transition more challenging than expected.

Moving away from close friends and family can make downsizing difficult, warned Darryl Dhoffer, from The Mortgage Expert. While there may be plenty of similarly aged and like-minded people in your new town, they are unlikely to provide the same level of support.

Dusk, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Tenby: the average price of a flat in Pembrokeshire is £112,600 – Joe Daniel Price/Moment RF

And then there is the cost. While you might be releasing a chunk of capital from your family home, you will still need to pay the costs of moving house: estate agent fees, solicitor fees, surveying fees, removal fees and – if the property you are buying is worth more than £250,000 – stamp duty.

You would pay £2,500 in stamp duty land tax if you bought a property worth £300,000, or £7,500 if you stretched to a £400,000 home. On top of this, according to Halifax, the average cost of moving home in the UK is nearly £12,000.

As Austyn Johnson, a mortgage broker, said: “Downsizing only works if you can actually afford it.”


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