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Retirement can give you a new lease of life, enabling you to spend time doing things you love, from travelling and hobbies to seeing more of family and friends. So how can you afford it?

To help make the most out of retirement many people are choosing to release equity in their home.

In April,  the Equity Release Council [i]  highlighted that nearly £1billion was withdrawn by over-55s through equity release in the first three months of 2019, a rise of 8 per cent compared to last year.

The industry body for the equity release sector said 20,400 customers borrowed against their homes, with the average customer taking out a lump sum of £97,763 to fund everything from home extensions to helping grandchildren get on the property ladder.

But equity release, which can be risky, is only one way to get access to the capital in your home.

The other is to sell up and downsize.

We, at Girlings, are finding many people are doing just this and rather than buying a smaller, cheaper property, they are opting to rent instead.

Renting has many benefits.

I feel like I have finally found my home.

It can make people financially better off and give them access to the capital in their home, without paying interest, as many people have to do when taking out equity release mortgages.

With renting there aren’t any stamp duty costs to pay either, which can be substantial in popular parts of the UK, where even small properties can command a hefty price.

One of the main barriers to renting is that people can feel it is too temporary and fear they are at the whim of a landlord who could ask them to leave at any stage. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

With Girlings’ retirement properties most come with assured or ‘lifetime’ tenancies, as opposed to the shorter assured shorthold tenancies that normal High Street agents offer.

What this means is that people can stay in the property as long as they want, giving them the same security of tenure as owning their own home.

Other benefits include being able to move to a more manageable sized property, perhaps in a completely new location, saving on bills and enjoying access to a ready-made community.

All without the burden of property ownership!

In essence people can just get on with living and enjoying their retirement.

One lady, who is doing just that is 61 year old Olive Young, who sold her home in IIford in Essex in 2006.

Divorced and in her late 50s at the time, Olive sold her house to help her only daughter buy a property in the area.

Rather than investing the remainder of her capital into another property for herself, she decided to rent.

Although renting suited Olive, she craved more permanence – a home in which she could settle and live for many years to come.

She knew of Girlings and loved the concept of its assured tenancies.

Olive checked Girlings website and found an apartment at Wiltshire Court in Ilford, a modern, purpose-built development with communal gardens, literally over the road from where she was already living.

She went to view and fell in love with a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor which was south facing, light and airy.

She decided to take it on the spot.

Olive says, “It’s the ideal set up for me. I have a home that I love where I have brought all my furniture. It is modern and bright and uncluttered. The location is perfect. It is really central, with great transport links and close to my daughter. If I want to travel, I can just lock up the apartment and leave it as there is a house manager on site and it all feels very secure.”

Olive loves spending time in the communal gardens and has made friends and met many interesting people since moving in.

She also says it has been a good financial move and says that the bills for utilities are very reasonable too.

She adds, “At 61 I am one of the youngest residents here and I have learned a lot about getting older which has helped me grow and develop as a person. I feel a sense of calm and reassurance too that this apartment will really suit me as I get older. There is a real community here and all the support facilities are in place if I needed help. I feel like I have finally found my home.”

To find out more about downsizing and renting in retirement visit www.girlings.co.uk

[i] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6974131/Older-people-using-homes-borrow-1billion-55s-scramble-fund-soaring-care-costs.html

Wiltshire Court