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Home Sentiment Among Over 55s

At SunLife, we pride ourselves on caring about you and your home.

Thanks to our recent Equity Release research, we know that over 55s prefer to stay in their homes rather than move somewhere new.

But why do so many over 55s want to stay put? And what makes them love their home so much?

To find out, we surveyed just over 1000 people who gave us insights into the weird and wonderful memories that they’d made in their home. And interestingly, why they won’t ever move – even if it means sacrificing their summer holidays.

Top findings

The happiest home has had 83 birthdays, 23 Christmases and 3 births, our new survey reveals. And for over 55s, Christmas is the happiest event in home, whilst money and DIY are the most common causes for an argument.

Location is by far the most important thing – being the main reason the majority of people (30%) said they don’t want to move, as well as the thing people stated they loved or disliked most about their home.

Contrary to popular belief, our research revealed that over 55s don’t want to relocate abroad, but would rather sacrifice holidays to stay in their home, or move to a coastal area in the UK – with the South region being the most popular choice.

When it comes to children flying the nest, a quarter (25%) of parents have never redecorated their kids bedrooms, whilst those that have waited on average two years before getting the paint brush out.

Despite the lack of decorating, if money wasn’t an issue and the possibilities were endless, having an indoor pool or an eco-home would be at the top of over 55s dream home renovations.

Home happiness is strongest among over 55s who have lived in their homes for more than 31 years (32%). Let's find out more…

The happiest home

Of our survey respondents, 71% were married or living as married and have lived with their partner for an average of 29 years. It’s no wonder home sentiment was high, with 70% of over 55s saying their time in their home has been happy.

In fact, the happiest homes correlate with being married or living as married, having paid off the mortgage, living with partner for over 30 years, having children and grandchildren and living at their current home for over 20 years.

Despite the happiest home being a long lived-in one, we asked the main reason for a disagreement to those who had been living with their partner for over 20 years.

We discovered that money was the main root cause of arguments, followed by DIY, home improvements and cleaning.

1 in 8 (13%) stated they never argue with their partner.

Main reasons for having a disagreement with a partner

(Top 10)(Base: all respondents who have been living with their partner for over 20 years)

10%

Money

8%

DIY

7%

Home
improvements

7%

Cleaning

5%

Taking over
the bed

5%

Laziness

4%

Television

4%

Children

3%

Sex

3%

Their spending

According to half of over 55s, the happiest event in the home is Christmas.

Those who have lived in their home for more than 20 years and have children or grandchildren are more likely to feel Christmas is the happiest event in the home.

On average, the happiest homes have had 83 birthdays, 23 Christmases and 3 births.

What do over 55s like and dislike about their homes?

People over 55 see location as the most important thing about their home – it is both the most loved and disliked thing about the home. One fifth state location as the top thing they love about their home, followed by the garden and space.

Things loved about the home

(Top 5)

20%

The location

11%

The garden

10%

The space

9%

If it's my own

8%

It's cosy,
comfortable
or homely

Things disliked about the home

(Top 5)

9%

The location

9%

The maintenance
required

8%

it is too small

7%

The garden

5%

The neighbours

Moving home

Home is where the heart is. As the saying goes, we love our homes more than anything and when it comes to sacrifices, more than half of homeowners over 55 can’t see themselves moving in the future and would prefer to give up holidays abroad than move house.

In fact, even if money wasn’t an issue, 45% of over 55s would still stay put, whilst nearly double would prefer to move to a coastal area in the UK rather than move abroad.

Of those that would consider moving, the South East is the most popular region, followed by the South West and Scotland.

On average, the furthest respondents would relocate is 46 miles, which is less than 2 hours drive away.

This makes sense as location came out on top as the main reason why people don’t want to move home (30%), as well as the most loved thing about the home (20%).

Reasons why people would not want to move

(Base: All respondents who can't see themselves moving home)

30%

Like location

14%

Moving is
stressful

13%

Too many
memories in
the home

12%

Stay close
to family

10%

Like local
area

7%

Moving is
expensive

4%

Like neighbours

3%

Spent too much
on home
renovations

1%

Stay close
to friends

Spare rooms

Transforming the children’s bedroom when they move out can seem like an exciting prospect, but a quarter of over 55s have never redecorated their kids’ room.

For those who did redecorate, the average time to wait before getting the paint brush out was 2 years.

How long did you wait after your children moved out to redecorate their room?

(Top 10)(Base: All respondents who have Children)

1%

The next
day

6%

The following
month

14%

6 months
after

23%

1-2 years
after

10%

3-5 years
after

3%

6-10 years
after

3%

10+ years
after

25%

Never

14%

They've not yet
moved out

In our survey, we asked people how they use or would use their spare room. Over half of grandparents (61%) said they would dedicate it to their grandchildren, whilst just 1% would rent it out to a lodger.

Whilst many also gave the typical guest room or office answers, we were surprised with the popularity of dedicated pet rooms.

We also discovered some more interesting uses such as, a virtual reality space, preserves/chutney storage and a cushion room.

Specifically, themed rooms included a steampunk room, Hogwarts furniture and décor, French Egyptian, Chinese themed and an Elvis shrine.

Other popular responses were rooms for crafts, the grandkids, games, relaxation and model railways.

Dream home renovations

Home renovations

(Top 10)

16%

Indoor pool

16%

Eco home

10%

Orangery

7%

High-tech
security system

6%

Greenhouse

5%

Cinema room

5%

Balcony

5%

Built in Jacuzzi

4%

Alfresco Area

4%

Home Sauna

Whilst over 55s love their homes dearly, everyone has a dream shopping basket for home improvements. If money wasn’t an issue and the possibilities were endless, an indoor pool and eco home would be top of the list.

Feeling safe with a high-tech security system is also more preferable than home spa facilities such as a jacuzzi or sauna.

Unfortunately money and space do restrict us, however many over 55s do make more realistic home improvements using money they’ve accessed from equity release.

Weird and wonderful memories

Homes are filled with so many memories, so we asked people to recall some of the most weird and wonderful memories they can remember in their home.

Notable weird events include the Great Storm of 1987, ghostly visitors and opening the front door to a lost muntjac looking for a place to rest.

The most wonderful memories are where significant events have taken place at the home, such as weddings and home-births, as well family get-togethers.

Many also reminisce about the day they moved into their house, and the home improvements they have made over years - proud of what they’ve achieved.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of the weird and wonderful memories people mentioned from the time in their home…

Source: SunLife Home sentiment among over 55s, October 2018. An online survey was conducted amongst 1,001 homeowners aged 55-80 representative of the UK population.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). 

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

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Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.