The Financial Times recently reported a trend in the UK and US whereby couples in their 50s and 60s are returning to live in the city, London and New York in particular.

This does seem to be counter intuitive, but they want to be closer to amenities such as theatres, exhibitions and cultural entertainment in general.

There is also an awareness that being close to medical infrastructure and good public transport will become more critical as they get older.

In the case where the couples had lived in the city in their youth, but moved out in search of more space for young families, the desire to reconnect with old friends was also strong.

And moving to an apartment or urban dwelling brings the not inconsiderable freedom from the tyranny of tending to a large garden every summer weekend.

Time to sell up?

Right-sizing, as I like to call it, gives you an opportunity to create your ideal living space for the later stage of your life. If you want research more about this stage in life, tune into Martin Bamford’s podcast on the very subject here.

The FT gives us the example of wine writer Jancis Robinson and her husband who were able to work with their builder to modify the spacious King’s Cross apartment they bought off the plans to accommodate an unusual collection.

Jancis had a accumulated 2000 bottles of wine over her career and needed somewhere to store them. She commandeered space allocated to an unnecessarily large utility room in the new apartment, windowless and north-facing. This became her new ‘cellar’.

So whatever collection, hobby of proclivity you have, you can choose, adapt or build the ideal accommodation for you and it.

It doesn’t have to be a move into a city, but if you wanted to, and if it suited you, why not?

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One of the many advantages of right-sizing is that it could free up some equity from the sale of a larger property. With this you could buy a smaller main home and a holiday home, either in Ireland or abroad.

Or buy or build your ideal home for that stage of your life with the swimming pool, putting green, home gym or wall-length fish tank of your dreams.

“One piece of advice. Plan this”

Research by UK estate agent Hamptons revealed that 10% of those who leave London to live in the country do a U-turn within a couple of years. Perhaps this is because they rush into it in an unplanned fashion! 

If you have the beginnings of a notion that you will not see out your years in your current residence, start making plans now for your perfect pad. Whether it’s 15 years away or just five, you will need to align certain things to be in a position to make it happen.

You must have your financial affairs in order to do this right. This may mean taking some actions now and doing things differently.

The main reason for people not achieving their goals is that they don’t actually do anything about trying to achieve them.

Here’s what not to do:

  1. Listen to your friends and do what they did (unless their circumstances and dreams are exactly the same as yours)
  2. Keep doing what you’re doing (unless right-sizing is already part of the plan you’re working towards)
  3. Pursue an investment strategy that is not in line with your actual objectives (and if you don’t have an investment strategy or don’t have any objectives, you definitely need to change that behaviour)

Aside from the financial planning stuff, this is an emotional decision.

Where you live has huge significance for you and your spouse of course, but also your children and perhaps other family members. What can seem like a simple decision that affects only you can cause tidal waves in the family dynamic.

Trying to plan this alone is taking on a lot. Working with a financial planner who has helped other people like you achieve their goals will help you with the ‘how’ so that you can devote time and energy to the ‘why’ if you need to.

The planner will give you the steps you need to take to get from where you are now to that dream home.

Speaking of which, I am definitely going to have one of these in mine. I haven’t quite got 2000 bottles, but I have time. Donations welcome…

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