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Moving House Without a Family

by Tony Watts OBE

boxes First of all, some numbers to conjure with (courtesy of the excellent organisation Ageing Without Children):

  • 10% of people in the UK over the age of 60 have no children.
  • 20% aged 50 and over have no children.
  • The number of people aged 65 and over without children is set to rise from 1.2 million to over 2 million by 2030.

Why does these statistics matter, especially when it comes to influencing our next house move?

Quite simply, it means that while many of us will look to offspring for at least some level of care and support in our later years, not everyone has family to turn to... and that can have big implications for where we live.

Someone who is ageing without children is currently 25% more likely to gointo a care home than someone who does... a figure set to rise in the future as the nation faces an anticipated 80% increase in the number of single, childless older people needing care by 2032.

Moreover, to those numbers you can add the large swathe of people in their 60s and 70s who either live a long way away from their children or who don't have a relationship where they can count on them...

So, if this potentially sounds like you, what do you need to factor into your next move-making decision?

Building on your support network

A “crunch moment” for many people can come following a stay in hospital. Living in a house or apartment that you can safely navigate will be one factor in the hospital allowing you to return home; having support on hand should you need it is another.

One possible solution is to build on the friendships you already have and move closer to those who, you know, would be happy to be part of your support network in the years to come... often in return for you doing the same for them!

Would a retirement community suit you?

One of the big reasons for choosing to move into a retirement development is that it offers the potential to act as a ready-made community for you going forward an opportunity to build up a friendship group close to hand and take part in social activities.

Retirement developments vary enormously in what they offer and the style of life you can expect, making it important that you research them thoroughly before taking the plunge. But in many that I’ve visited over the years you can see at play the inter-dependence of the residents who look out for each other... and that can mean anything from playing the role of good neighbour (feeding your cat while you’re away or taking in a parcel delivery) through to ferrying you to the surgery or hospital.

Some developments will also have personnel on hand to do just that, including providing domiciliary and nursing care when it's needed, while those that have care facilities built in as part of the development would allow you to return from a hospital stay, for instance, in a suitable setting.

Buying in care and domiciliary support

But if none of these options feel right for you, you can always bank on being able to buy in the care and support you might need in the future. There are plenty of organisations out there, including some that will actually provide live-in care for as long as you need it.

If this is the road you feel most comfortable travelling, do make sure that you have the funding in place to do so comfortably (good quality care doesn't come cheap) and perhaps research which provider you might turnto should the occasion arise.

Not having the right support readily available is one of the factors that often precipitate a move into a care setting; getting that support lined up might well enable you to remain living independently in your next home for as long as you wish.

Releasing equity, moving upmarket

There is one other aspect of moving house to weigh up when you have no children. You might be happier to release some of the capital locked up in your home, perhaps through a lifetime mortgage or equity release... or to buy a more expensive property