Downsize, rent or buy?
Unsurprisingly, empty nest parents consider downsizing at this point. Many buy somewhere smaller, although a few rent. Some find alternative uses for their space.
The decision is emotional, practical and financial, which makes it a dilemma, as two powerful stories from my days as a financial planner show.
Asset-rich and cash-poor
I remember visiting a couple in Leeds at their request (I don’t apologise for retelling this powerful story). They had spent their retirement lump sum and their investments on creating their dream house and wanted help because they didn’t even have enough liquid cash left to buy airline tickets to see their daughter in Australia.
In contrast, I looked after a retired couple who rented their home. They were not well-off but had enough income and investments to fund their unrushed lifestyle. They lived a contented life that suited them.
I was reminded of these stories when I read property specialist Nicole Bremner’s article “A Renter’s Utopia”. Nicole asks her readers to imagine living in a country where property ownership is the exception, not the norm. She highlights Switzerland, the wealthiest country in Europe with the lowest rate of home ownership in the OECD.
Renting in Vienna
Nicole also shines a light on Vienna, which focussed on housing supply after the war. Now, 80% of Viennese residents elect to rent, not buy, and benefit from low rents, minimal maintenance responsibilities, and “the freedom of mind and money.”
Nicole stops short of making a direct link between renting and wealth, and I would not argue from my two stories that property ownership is detrimental to personal wealth. However, both stories illustrate the implications of tying up wealth in property.
Of course, alternative ways of dealing with your half-empty, silent house exist. Fair Ways is a Plymouth, UK, charity encouraging parents whose kids have left home to fill their rooms by fostering children. Parents who take up the charity’s invitation to foster report a new sense of purpose and satisfaction by making a difference.
Facing the dilemma
So, if you are in a dilemma over your property, consider how to deal with the three critical elements of the decision.
Think about your longer-term aspirations and values. These will help you to deal with the emotional aspects. Consider what “home” means to you rather than “house.”
Decide on some of the practical issues. Are you happy to live in a half-empty house? Can you handle the hassle of moving? Where would you move to? What other ways could fill your space and bring life back to your home?
Decisions about your home have financial consequences. The decision will be easier with good financial maturity, knowing where you stand now and how much your future lifestyle will cost, and knowing deep down whether you have enough and are enough.
My name is Jeremy Deedes, and I design and construct a purposeful and satisfying future for entrepreneurial couples whose kids have left home so that they can grow their wealth, free themselves from cloying restrictions and create new ways of making a difference.
Visit jeremydeedes.com or schedule a free 20-minute consultation call to learn how I can work with you.
Other attributions and references
Nicole Bremner: The Business of Property (5 Oct 2023). A renter’s utopia? Apparently it does exist, just not in the UK. https://nicolebremner.substack.com/p/a-renters-utopia-apparently-it-does (5 Oct 2023)
Botsman, Rachel, and Roo Rogers. What’s Mine Is Yours : The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. London, Collins, 2010.
Fair Ways Childrens’ Services Charity: https://www.fairways.co/
How to find your purpose
It often takes a challenge, either a surprise or planned, to kick us into changing the direction of our life, as Alice’s story exemplifies.
How to use your gifts to help others
The gifts you have to offer are an excellent place to start when deciding how to lead a life of meaning and purpose by making a difference to others.
The perils of financial immaturity
Financial immaturity makes money your master, not your servant, making it hard to use for the benefit of others or your spiritual growth.
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What do you think?
Your views are important, and your fellow readers would love to hear your opinion, so share your thoughts in the comments box below, and thank you for your time and generosity.