23% say they plan to downsize in retirement, research reveals

Just under a quarter (23%) of people say they plan to downsize in retirement, according to a survey of 1,500 people carried out by Opinium on behalf of HL in September 2023.

The research revealed that 37% do not wish to do so and a further 39% are unsure. Also, younger people are more likely to want to downsize – 32% of the 18-34 age group compared to just 14% of the over 55s.

What’s more, when asked what puts them off downsizing 31% said they are too attached to their home. Again, there was a strong age trend here with just 12% of the 18-34 group saying this compared to 43% of the over 55s. 22% say it is too expensive to downsize and 19% say they have enough money for retirement without needing to downsize. Helen Morrissey, head of retirement analysis at Hargreaves Lansdown, said:

“Over time, we grow more attached to our home, and this can make it difficult to move, especially if it means going to an area that could be further away from family and friends. This is shown by the clear age distinction between those who are considering downsizing and those who aren’t. Almost one third of the 18-34 age group were in favour of the idea compared to just 14% of the over 55s.

In addition, the various costs associated with buying and selling a home can really mount up and leave you with far less money left over than you thought. You may also find that the dream house or flat you thought you could afford is now out of reach and you have to make difficult decisions about what you can afford. Of those who say they wouldn’t downsize almost a quarter (22%) say it would be too expensive and a further 13% say they would pay too much stamp duty.

Downsizing can play a role in retirement planning, but it is important not to rely on it to fill gaps in your pension. Your circumstances and views can change over time, and you don’t want to be in a position where you feel you have to sell up to make ends meet or end up living somewhere that doesn’t meet your needs.”

Read more stories

Join nearly 5,000 other practitioners – sign up to our free newsletter

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.