Snakes and Ladders series; Grey spots

Oxford from above

The final chapter of the housing journey begins when people start trading in large family homes for smaller ones.





As empty bedrooms get too expensive to heat and big council tax bills begin to take their toll, many households think about downsizing. Typically if people decide to downsize they do it sooner rather than later.

Analysis of ONS data shows that 52% of those in their fifties will never move home. As people get older they very quickly become much less likely to move.

0339 Countrywide Quarterly Report Document_Spreads.indd

While there is a small spike in people moving home just as they retire, a 60 year old is two thirds more likely to move home than a 70 year old. If someone hasn’t moved by their late 60s, traditionally they’ve been unlikely to do so later as their health deteriorates. But there are signs that this is changing, albeit slowly. The number of moves by people in their 70s has risen 22% over the last three years, the largest growth of any age group.

Typically downsizers move out of cities, often to the coast or the countryside. More than one in five people moving to coastal Eastbourne, Tendring, Rother or Arun last year were over 65, which compares to less than 1% of those moving into most Inner London Boroughs. There are however signs that the ageing exodus from cities is beginning to slow. The number of people aged over 65 moving to London rose 8% between 2012 and 2015, while York, Plymouth, Wigan and Rugby all switched from being net exporters to net importers of pensioners.

0339 Countrywide Quarterly Report Document_Spreads.indd

During the 1950s and 1960s developers successfully built bungalows to tempt prospective downsizers out of family homes. While their attraction is based on being more manageable to live in, they are also perceived as pleasant places to move earlier on in a housing journey. Bungalows remain popular as ever to this day, although the numbers built have dwindled as planners and house builders have pushed for higher densities. While attempts have been made to reinvent the bungalow for the 21st century city, so far they haven’t been met with quite the same enthusiasm.