Downsizing to an apartment can bring many benefits as you get older, as long as you choose the right development. It often allows you to release equity from your home. You can lock up and leave without worrying too much about security and it can help you remain independent and in your own property for longer, as living on one level means no stairs to
Other positives can include less loneliness and freeing up a family-size house for those who need the space. While there will be a monthly service charge and council tax, maintenance costs should be minimal as the leaseholder maintains the fabric of the building.
John Parkinson, 78, and his wife Judith, 75, recently downsized from their four-bedroom house to a three-bedroom apartment in Castle Lodge, a new gated apartment development by Laurenna Homes in the sought-after Wakefield village of Sandal.
Maintenance of their large garden was a concern, as was the cost of maintaining the house going forward. “Our pensions aren’t particularly good and so we invested in ISAs, which have dropped dramatically. We thought putting money in the bank in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s was a better, safer bet but that has been proved wrong,” says John.
“We added up the cost of things that might need doing to the house in the near future and decided to sell because if we stayed we couldn’t realise any extra cash to pay for those things. Plus, cleaning a big house and having the stairs were becoming an issue. In the end, the decision was both physical and financial.”
Swapping their house for the leasehold apartment released equity that has provided financial security.
“The ceilings are high in this apartment, it’s a great mix of traditional and modern features and the proportions are generous so it feels spacious and the running costs are much lower than our house was,” says John.
“There is a service charge but you don’t need buildings insurance, only contents, and the apartment is so well insulated that our gas bill is 20 per cent lower and the electricity bill is half what we paid for the house, plus the windows are cleaned, gardens are maintained and the place feels very secure. We have absolutely no regrets about moving.”
Architect and developer Richard Mellor, who co-founded Laurenna Homes with his brother, is converting 19th century Castle Lodge into one, two and three bedroom homes while adding two 21st century extensions. The design has been meticulously thought through.
“Most developers build flats to the basic requirement but we did a consultation that showed most people, especially those downsizing from larger houses, wanted bigger room sizes and so that’s what we have provided,” says Richard. “The pandemic made us realise how important balconies were, so all the apartments have them and they are 50 per cent bigger than the government standard.”
Along with communal gardens, there is an apartment to let for those visiting loved ones at Castle Lodge. “We have put a lot of thought into it and we are really pleased with the feedback,” says Richard. Apartments start from £224,950. For details visit www.richardkendall.co.uk.