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1.45 million over-65s face downsizing struggles

Half a million movers can't find the right homes in their area

1.45 million over-65s face downsizing struggles

A third of homeowners aged over 65 want to move to a smaller home – but many simply can’t find a suitable property for the right price.

New research by Key Retirement found the equivalent of 1.45 million homeowners are ready and willing to downsize, but face significant barriers to doing so.

Here, we take a look at the research and offer advice on downsizing and accessing your money in retirement.


Why do homeowners want to downsize?

Older homeowners want to downsize for a variety of reasons, with 53% saying they struggle to maintain their current property, and 42% concerned about the cost of bills, according to Key Retirement.

Other reasons include the cost of upkeep (27%) and their property simply being too big for their needs (17%).

But while downsizing might seem appealing in theory, there is a shortage of quality homes available – and those that do exist come at a premium.

The research found the equivalent of 620,000 homeowners want to downsize but can’t find the right property in their area, while a further 500,000 can’t make the sums work.

One issue is the lack of available bungalows, a type of housing traditionally favoured by older homebuyers for their step-free access and easy maintenance.

Indeed, data from the National House Building Council found that the number of bungalows built dropped from 26,406 in 1986 to just 2,210 twenty years later, in 2016.

And with bungalows accounting for less than 7% of available homes, they can be considerably more expensive to buy than other property types.

Where are the downsizing hotspots?

The table below from Key Retirement shows the areas in the UK where buyers are considering downsizing in the next five years.

As you can see, over-65s in the North East are the most likely to consider moving, while those in the East Midlands are the least likely.

Region % of over-65s considering downsizing Number of over-65s considering downsizing
North East 58% 159,500
South West 44% 275,700
Wales 38% 100,540
Yorkshire & Humberside 33% 95,240
West Midlands 31% 111,100
Scotland 30% 84,600
London 26% 95,160
North West 26% 174,460
South East 26% 170,650
East Anglia 24% 113,280
East Midlands 17% 73,300
Great Britain 30% 1.45m

Advice on downsizing

If you’re considering downsizing or helping a relative move to a smaller home, Which? Elderly Care provides a series of guides that offer advice on the following topics:

Alternatively, rather than buying another property on the private real estate market, you may want to consider moving into sheltered housing or a retirement village.

Freeing up money in your retirement

If your primary aim is to release money to use in retirement, there are some alternative options available.

Each has pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your financial situation now and into the future, and make sure you fully understand the impact.

Check out our full guides for more information:

We strongly recommend taking independent financial advice before considering equity release.

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