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Make the most of your home when kids leave

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What to do with your house when the children move out.

Parenting brings great joy into our lives, sometimes during challenging circumstances. While we are always parents in the true sense of the word, often the biggest challenge is when that role from a day-to-day perspective comes to an end.

There are many ways to re-invent your home after your kids have left the nest.

There are many ways to re-invent your home after your kids have left the nest.

What do we do when our children leave home?

Entering the next phase of our lives

Much has been written about empty-nest syndrome. A lot of the advice in this area looks at how we can make ourselves happier.

We are told to go out and meet new people, to find a new hobby, to take an extra vacation, to enjoy not worrying about what time the children will be home. While there is nothing wrong with any of that advice, and indeed many of us will follow it, our home still presents a huge opportunity for us as individuals and couples.

Should we take the opportunity to cash in and downsize?

Though doing this is certainly an option that some explore, it is not as common as it was 10 years ago. In fact, studies are showing that increasing numbers of Baby Boomers are choosing to stay in their family homes and adapting their properties to their new way of life, rather than selling up to buy a different home that may be already suited to them.

A 2013 study by the US-based Demand Institute highlighted that 63 percent of Baby Boomers had no plans to move, with 85 percent saying it was their choice to stay at home.

There are a number of reasons why people are choosing to do this.

While moving house is a hassle,  there are other factors that prove to be just as much of a driving factor:

  • Sentimental attachment. For those who live in modern builds, it may have been their home from new and represents a lifetime of memories.
  • Wanting to keep the home in the family and pass it down to the children when gone.
  • Children always feel like it’s their home and love coming back to visit.
  • The net worth of Baby Boomers continues to increase, so there is no longer a need to downsize to maintain lifestyle.
  • Society as a whole is getting younger. Whereas in the past, children leaving home might have made parents think of retirement and their later lives, today it’s the start of a whole new phase filled with exciting experiences.
  • Instead of downsizing once ytour children have left, let’s look at how you can remodel your home towards your interests and with later life in mind.

    Do you have a passion you follow at home?

    What is it you enjoy doing at home? Do you have a passion that you’ve wanted to pursue for years but felt unable to do so because your children were still at home?

    You could update your home to fit whatever you want the next phase of your life to bring.

    For example, say your garden is sizeable but has always acted as a sports field for your children, now could be the time to invest in a landscaping project if you enjoy spending time gardening.

    If you’re not an outdoors person, look at what you can do inside your home instead. Have you always felt like you needed an extra room in your house, or have always wanted the space to do something creative? The possibilities are endless! We’ve had our customers tell us they’ve used the space created by their children leaving for everything from walk in wardrobes and dressing rooms to spaces to pursue an artistic passion and even home cinemas and miniature pubs!

    Would an office space help you?

    Even the most enthusiastic among us who love our jobs can be ground down by the repetition of the daily commute. The great thing about modern workplaces is that things like flexible working and opportunities to work at home are more widespread than ever before.

    Most business CEO’s have by now read about how much happier and more productive their employees are if they can work at home, and they also don’t mind the reduced running costs of having a third of the workforce work out of the office a few days a week, either!

    Could you turn the space vacated by your children into an area to work?

    Sitting at the kitchen table or at a desk in your front room can be great, but it can also give you the feeling of not really being at work. If you leave files lying around then likewise it can make your home feel like the office, too.

    Turn an old bedroom into an office area. This way you can keep any information you need available and visible, but at the end of the day you can close the door and leave it behind.

    This is also a great idea if you want to start a home business or decide to undertake a home study course. Create a space where you can get done what you need to do but be able to forget about it and enjoy your home the rest of the time.

    Renovating for function rather than pleasure

    Although there are numerous opportunities for you to update your home exactly how you want to, a 2016 study conducted by Home Advisor found that of all the “ageing related” renovations conducted, 56 percent were for homeowners between the ages of 50 and 65.

    While you may enjoy a new lease of life or embrace new opportunities when your children have left home, it is definitely worth considering what you can do to “age proof” your home if you’re planning to always live there.

    One of the primary benefits of moving into a smaller home or to a so-called “retirement village” is that they will be more accessible and easier to live in, but why not do that to your own home?

    This doesn’t mean you’re writing off your life or preparing to wind down, you’re just making smart changes to your home now so you don’t need to in the future.

    Within the same Demand Institute study we cited earlier, 58 percent of Baby Boomers admitted they were considering home renovations to make maintaining their property easier, while 44 percent were thinking ahead to make their home “easier for ageing.”

    Home Advisor’s survey also looked at the specific renovations those in the 50-65 age category were having done to their home, finding:

  • 65 percent added grab bars around the home, particularly in places such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and on the stairs.
  • 64 percent added a ramp at their home entrance.
  • 40 percent had all the doors widened in their homes.
  • 35 percent had a ground floor bathroom installed – a great option if one of your children has a downstairs bedroom!
  • 30 percent added lever handles to doors for easier opening and closing.
  • If you decide you need or want to undertake functional home renovations, don’t feel like there’s a stigma attached to it or be worried about discussing it, there are plenty of your peers looking at this in addition to other great ways to improve their home.

    The added benefit

    While not every modern home will have grab bars, for example, many of the renovations that are being undertaken by those in the 50-65 age bracket are quite common features of modern homes, meaning that even if you do plan to leave, at least you’ll have the added benefit of having added some value to your home, enabling you to sell at a higher price when the time comes.

    Funding your home renovations, whatever you have planned

    Whether you are planning home renovations as a passion project or you are looking at “ageing related” home improvements, a common concern among Baby Boomers is how they will be able to fund their projects. While some of us will have enough home equity to borrow against this, for some the borrowing may mean our mortgage payments extending beyond the years when we ideally want to work until.

    One option is to consider a personal loan. offers unsecured home improvement loans over periods of 18-84 months, from $4000 to $40,000. Whatever type of home improvements you are looking to undertake, may be able to help you.

    How will you make the most of your home once your children have left?

    Disclaimer:  This article contains general comments and recommendations only. This article has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before taking any action you should consider the appropriateness of the comments made in the article, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. If this article relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular credit product you should obtain and consider the relevant disclosure documents before applying for the product.

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