0 How to move on up in retirement – and what to consider before buying By The Bower Team / In Retirement Planning Moving house in later life can be tough, both financially and emotionally. But for those of us in a house that isn’t ideal for our retirement years – perhaps on too many levels, or too large now the children have flown the nest – moving may be a necessary task. Have your heart set on a beautiful bungalow close to loved ones, or a picturesque cottage in a friendly village? You may find the value is the same or more expensive than your current property. If this is the case and you do not have enough in savings to help with the purchase, did you know equity release could assist you in buying your new home? You may have already found that getting a traditional mortgage can be more difficult for those in or approaching retirement, especially since the mortgage reforms were put in place in 2013. Fortunately, homeowners aged 55 and over can apply for a lifetime mortgage and unlock a tax-free cash lump sum to assist in the purchase. Because it is an equity release plan, you do not need to make any monthly repayments on the loan – although you can do on some plans if you wish. The amount you unlock, together with the accrued interest, only has to be repaid when the plan comes to an end and your house is sold, usually when you pass away or move into long-term care. Your specialist in retirement lending will be able to explain exactly how it all works and if you could be eligible for a plan, as well as any points to consider such as how equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to some means-tested benefits. So what is the key to choosing your dream property to enjoy your retirement years in? It is important to choose a place that will work for you now and in the future. Here’s how… Consider your health You may be in good health now but should you or your partner have a fall or become unwell in the future, getting up and downstairs may be a hassle you could do without. Consider a bungalow, or if that isn’t right for you then perhaps a house with a decent ground floor bedroom and bathroom, so the option of downstairs living is there should you need it. Walking distance to local amenities You might be able to drive and get around easily now, but this may not always be the case. There are some health conditions that can result in the sudden loss of our driving license, and eyesight can naturally deteriorate as we get older, sometimes meaning we are not able to drive anymore. Check you are in walking distance of local shops and public transport routes – and consider anything else you would enjoy being able to walk to easily – a park to walk the dog around, or a good local pub perhaps! Close to loved ones Your children, grandchildren or good friends may be the biggest factor when choosing the area in which you wish you live. As we get older we rely more on the help and company of loved ones, so being closer will make it easier to visit them and for them to come to you. Garden If outdoor living space is important to you then choose a property with a garden on one level. Steps and slopes leading to different areas in the garden can become slippy in the wetter months when you are working out there. It could also be dangerous for grandchildren who enjoy playing outside when they come to visit. Condition of the property Unless you have the additional funds available to take on a property in need of some TLC, then invest in a thorough survey before purchasing. Whilst you will almost never find a property that requires nothing to be done to it, finding one that has been kept updated and repaired over the years is wise if you need something ‘ready to move into’, with little work involved.