After years of the 9 to 5 and making the daily commute to the city, one might assume that most people in later life would be fleeing to a rural retreat in retirement to enjoy the plentiful benefits of countryside living.
Yet, for those of us who have lived and worked in urban areas for the last 40 or so years, when the time comes to retire, the once-romantic reality of a country retirement, with its green fields, self-sustaining vegetable gardens and the pretty rose-covered cottages, could be a change too far.
The end of our careers heralds in a new era of our lives when we have significantly more time to spend doing what we love. It makes sense then, to retire to a location that offers an attractive array of stimulating cultural and entertainment opportunities to keep the mind and body active. The great news is that bustling towns and cities offer just that.
The benefits of an urban retirement
With their rich culture (just think of all those museums and galleries to explore), diverse mix of people, organised social events and plentiful volunteering opportunities to keep yourself busy, towns and cities have much to offer today’s retirees.
Staying connected and getting around can be more achievable in urban areas, too. Better public transport links in towns and cities areas make travelling locally and further afield cheaper and easier than if you were living in the countryside.
Travelling to see friends and family is a doddle when you have trains, tubes and buses a stone’s throw away, it also makes you more accessible too, for loved ones to visit.
Conveniently, the weekly shop is easy as pie when you have an array of local supermarkets and smaller groceries just a short walk or drive away. In stark comparison, retirees out in the country who find themselves unable to drive could find it a challenge just to get their hands on the Sunday paper.
For those who would enjoy a scenic location, there are a large number of fantastic market towns and coastal resorts that can offer a combination of urban life and plenty of green space, ideal for those of us who plan to spend more time in the garden in retirement.
So if you are tempted by an urban retirement in the UK, where are the best places to consider? We have compiled our top three picks of the most popular towns and cities for people to retire to.
Until now, London has generally been regarded as a young person’s city, where the up-and-coming head to make their fortune; however, the city has a vibrant culture perfectly suited to those of us in later life. It makes London something of a ‘retirement nirvana’.
London appeals to many retirees because of its fantastic transport links and the unparalleled cultural scene. With a vast array of museums, galleries and parks to explore, many of them free to enter, together with endless food, literary and art festivals to enjoy, there is something for everyone, every day, in our great capital.
As with any town or city, of course, there are downfalls to London which will put some people off from a retirement there. The noise, air pollution and higher levels of crime are all to be carefully considered.
Perhaps the biggest reason to turn people off from retiring there, though, is the high cost of living. However, if you already live in London or are just on the outskirts of the city, then you could benefit from the rise in London house prices over recent years by downsizing your property or unlocking some of the equity from your home. This could provide you with the extra funds needed to enjoy your retirement without having to leave the region.
Christchurch is a wonderful town next to Bournemouth on the stunning Dorset coast. Dorset has the country’s third highest concentration of people over the age of 65*, with 29.7 per cent of Christchurch being retired**. Retirees here should be able to find plenty of like-minded people to meet and socialise with.
Rich in culture and popular with tourists during the summer, there is a food and wine festival in May, a popular music festival in July, and a two-day carnival in August. While away your days in the many charismatic tea shops, and potter around the specialist shops which offer a vast array of locally produced crafts, food and drink.
This harbour town is ideal to retire to if you love the sea, enjoy quaint towns with plenty of history, and want to be surrounded by like-minded people.
Retirees living in or moving to Dorset will be pleased to hear that the county was named the best place to retire to in 2016 by Prudential’s Quality of Retirement Index. They assessed crime levels, access to healthcare, average pension income and the weather.
Exeter, East Devon
The Cathedral city of Exeter, in Devon, is a fantastic mix of a bustling modern city steeped in fourteenth century architecture, with historic buildings intermingled with contemporary art and sculptures.
Devon is the home of cream teas, which you can enjoy in one of the many traditional tea shops across the county. Here you can enjoy beautiful beaches together with plenty of sunshine, making it a popular place for retirees, who account for 28.2 per cent of the population**. The county also has the third lowest crime rate in England and Wales.
If travelling is important to you in retirement, then look no further than Exeter. Here you will have an international airport on your doorstep, and a major train station on fast main line that will get you to London in just a couple of hours.
For driving you can get straight onto the M5 to access the UK’s network of roads, and just down the coast is the Plymouth ferry port to cross the Channel into France.
Speak to a specialist
If a cash lump sum is the only thing stopping you from being able to enjoy your retirement to the full, then why not speak to one of our equity release specialists? We can help you find out how much you could release from your home’s value to spend however you choose.
Call our friendly UK-based team today on [tel].
*BT.com Sept 2016
**The Telegraph ‘Top 10 places to retire’