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Top 10 best places for retirement

Find out where pensioners have the highest quality of life

Arundel castle, the rolling hills of the South Down way and the kinetic buzz of Goodwood’s racing track: these quintessentially British landmarks can all be found in the county of West Sussex, which has topped the table as the best place to retire, according to new research from insurer Prudential. 

Prudential looked at nine indicators of ‘happiness and comfort’ for people in retirement – such as crime levels, the number of pensioners both moving to an area and as a proportion of an area’s population, access to healthcare and life expectancy – to create a Retirement Quality of Life Index.

West Sussex came out on top for the second year running, with Dorset finishing in second place and neighbouring East Sussex coming in third.

So, what would it cost to move to one of these places to enjoy your years free from work? And how can you manage it financially?

  • If need help arranging finances for a new home, our expert mortgage broking service can help. Call Which? Mortgage Advisers on 0800 197 8461.

Top 10 best places for retirement

Prudential analysed data in 55 counties in England and Wales to come up with its retirement ranking for 2016.

  1. West Sussex
  2. Dorset
  3. East Sussex
  4. Isle of Wight
  5. Norfolk
  6. Devon
  7. Worcestershire
  8. Oxfordshire
  9. Somerset
  10. Shropshire

While the top three remain unchanged from last year’s index, the Isle of Wight has moved up four places, while Somerset has shot up nine places and Shropshire has moved up seven places.

Suffolk and North Yorkshire dropped out of this year’s top 10, falling three and eight places, respectively.


West Sussex: how much does it cost to move there?

Arundel Castle is one of the tourist hotspots of West Sussex

West Sussex boasts one of the highest disability-free life expectancies across the 55 counties in England and Wales. Women at age 65 can expect to live a further 12.2 years without disability, while men can expect to live a further 12.4 years.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), women in Richmond and men in Woking enjoy the longest lives without disability, while Newham and Tower Hamlets in London have the lowest life expectancies without disability for women and men, respectively.

Average annual pensioner income in West Sussex is £19,000, above the average of £17,085 and beaten only by Surrey and Buckinghamshire.

The area is already a magnet for pensioners, with almost a quarter (23%) of the 843,000 people living in West Sussex are aged 65 and over. It also has the highest movement of pensioners into the county, according to ONS data. By contrast, the West Midlands has seen the biggest flight of over 65s.

So, if you wanted to move to this table-topping county, how much would you need to find? We sourced average house price data from the Land Registry for the county for June 2018.

For all properties, the average house price is £321,171. But if you fancy living up your retirement in a detached house, that will set you back £539,238. The average semi-detached property costs £349,838, while a terraced property costs £281,364. A flat or maisonette averages out to £189,602.

The best of the rest for property prices

From the top 10 in the Retirement Quality of Life index, house prices on average are lowest on the Isle of Wight, ranked in fourth, where the average property in June 2018 was £208,907.

If you don’t fancy moving off the mainland, however, property prices were lowest in Norfolk, ranked just below the Isle of Wight, where the average property costs £224,841. The most expensive area in the top 10 is Oxfordshire, where the average property is £354,903 and the average detached home costs £562,893.

However, if you were looking to move to an area which has the highest number of similarly-aged denizens, Dorset is the place, with some 28% of the 422,000 people living in the county are aged over 65.

The average property costs £296,210. And while a detached home will set you back £432,000 on average, you could pick up a semi-detached home for around £282,000.

Downsizing to a new area in retirement

If you’re thinking of moving to a new area once you’ve kicked off your work shoes, bear in mind you will face other costs, even if you buy your property outright.

You’ll have to pay stamp duty, which could be between 2% and 12% of the value of the property you’re buying, as well as conveyancing costs, fees to estate agents, house surveys and moving costs.

This could eat into any potential funds you might be thinking to use to boost your retirement income by selling up.

If you’re looking to finance a move in retirement, Which? Mortgage Advisers can help you find the right way to do it for your situation. Give one of Which?’s expert mortgage brokers a call on 0800 197 8461 or fill in the form below to arrange a call back.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Which? Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited.

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