Downsizing not the only option for today's retirees

Downsizing not the only option for today's retirees

New research has found that almost half of Britons over 65 years would consider downsizing, especially if they could be exempt from paying stamp duty. However, buying a smaller home isn’t the only option.

Recent figures from the National Landlords Association suggest that almost one in five renters (19.96%) are retired and that the number of retirees and older people moving into rented accommodation increased by 13% - rising by 200,000 between 2012 and 2016.

Gillian Girling, Chief Executive of Girlings Retirement Rentals says many older people choose to downsize and rent in a specialist retirement development as the benefits often outweigh buying.

According to Gillian, the main benefits of renting over buying in later life are:

No stamp duty - According to Lloyds Bank the cost of moving increased by 6% over the past year, mostly due to stamp duty costs. High house prices in popular areas for retirees can make stamp duty even steeper, which can put off people considering downsizing.

A recent report from Zoopla found that renting is cheaper in over half of British cities, including London, Brighton, Bournemouth and Cambridge. Many retirement developments are in desirable city centres and coastal regions in the south, making moving to these areas more affordable for many.  

Renting on an assured tenancy gives people security - Often one of the stumbling blocks to renting is the perceived lack of security. People think renting is a temporary housing option; however, this isn’t the case with Girlings retirement rental properties. Most of ours are available on assured (lifetime) tenancies, rather than the more common Assured Shorthold Tenancies where tenants can be given two months’ notice after the initial term.  

The Assured Tenancy which Girlings offer means people can stay for as long as they wish enabling them to put down roots and help develop their new community. This security of tenure makes renting a far more attractive and viable option.


Avoid having to fork out for property maintenance and upkeep - As people get older they don’t need or want the worry of maintaining a property and the expense that comes with it, especially if they still live in a large family home. With renting a retirement property the maintenance and the upkeep of the property and gardens are normally included in the rent.

Frees up capital for those that sell up and move into rented properties - Many people downsize and rent in retirement for financial reasons. By stepping off the property ladder they can live mortgage free and can use the capital from their house sale to enjoy themselves, gift it to their children or invest it in their future retirement.

Fixed outgoings every month - Renting can mean fixed incomes and no surprise bills. With our apartments, the rent includes services and maintenance, the upkeep of common and external areas, window cleaning, lift maintenance, and in many cases the cost of water is also included. This allows people to budget easily.

Wide choice of properties available to suit all budgets - Contrary to the views of many people, retirement apartments can be contemporary, modern and luxurious. There is a wide variety of properties available to suit all budgets and aspirations – from luxury properties that offer contemporary living, to apartments in historic buildings that come with all sorts of amenities such as gyms, onsite bistros and restaurants, as well as modern studios and one or two bedroom apartments located in purpose built retirement developments.

Access to services and ready-made community – As people get older they may require additional support services. Many developments will have a manager on site to check in on residents and a 24 hour Careline in each apartment in case of emergencies. People also have access to a ready-made community, with many developments organising social events and outings, which can be a real lifeline especially for single people.

Gillian adds: “Home ownership has always been the aspiration for many people, but changing perceptions and attitudes are leading many home owners to rent when they get older, as they recognise the many benefits it can offer.  

From the rising numbers of renters, it is clear renting is no longer second best. For many it gives them the financial freedom to really enjoy their retirement, plus the flexibility to move somewhere they have always dreamt of living or as their circumstances change.”

Annette Setterfield, 83 has been living at a Girlings’ property in Exeter for five years. She had previously lived in Exeter up until the 1980s, but moved to Sheffield with her husband.

Annette’s husband died nine years ago and as she had no family left in Sheffield, she decided to relocate with her cat, Sweep, back to Exeter. Her two daughters live in Exeter and it made sense to be nearer to them and her 10 grandchildren.

Annette now lives in a one bedroom first floor apartment at Homecourt House in Exeter, rented through Girlings on an assured tenancy.

She says: “The big draw for me was it has really big windows with lovely views. I am a church goer and I can see my church from the window which is really nice. I feel very settled here and I’m happy I was able to bring my cat Sweep, who loves sitting on the window ledge looking out.”

Annette also appreciates the fact she is on an assured tenancy, which means she can stay in the property for as long as she wants. Annette enjoys the social side of living at Homecourt House and often spends time in the communal lounge and gardens with other residents.

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