Moving house is one of life’s most stressful experiences. That’s what you’re told, and there’s plenty of evidence to support it. But there’s a part of the equation that tends to be ignored.
Moving house is one of life's most stressful events
Moving house ranks slightly differently depending on the scale or survey, but it typically sits in the top five most stressful life events. It’s up there with divorce and the death of a loved one.
Clearly it causes a major disruption to your life, with the stress of it lasting three months on average, according to research by energy company E.ON. Buying and selling at the same time, dealing with estate agents and solicitors, keeping on top of the paperwork, deciding which possessions to keep and how to dispose of the rest: it’s a long list of challenges.
So, why move house?
Such challenges are worth it when the gains outweigh the losses. It might be that moving home allows you to move in with a partner or take up a new job. Perhaps it gives you a fresh start or creates more space for the children or grandkids to run around in.
Our reasons for moving home change as you get older. For example, 18-24 year olds are the most likely to move to advance their career, while 25-34 year olds are the most likely to move because they need more space for their expanding family. Both reasons focus on hopes for the future. They anticipate getting ahead at work or having more children.
By contrast, those aged 55+ are the most likely to move so they can downsize and release some capital. Instead of moving to gain something, the decision is more about avoiding loss. It is taken to clear debts or top up pensions in order to feel more secure in the present. Social psychologists describe this change as a gradual shifting from promotion motivation to prevention motivation.
Except of course, those who do decide to downsize are still experiencing loss of a different kind.
Sometimes the sentimental loss is too great
Humans are inherently territorial creatures who like familiarity, routine and order. When moving house, you temporarily lose all of these. Then there are the ripple effects throughout the rest of your life. You're not just changing your home and getting to know the new one, you might be in a new area where you have to take a different route to work or find a new doctor and dentist.
But it’s more than that. Every home and neighbourhood you belong to influences who you are. Look around your home now. All those little details reflect: your personality; how you see yourself and your family; the way you’ve lived your life; and what’s changed over the years.
Dismantling all of that personal history is hard because we are sentimentally attached to our homes, particularly as we get older.
What’s the right decision for you?
It may be that moving home in later life is a positive choice for you, in which case there’s plenty of advice available on reducing the stress involved.
But if you want to preserve those emotional ties, equity release will allow you to remain in your home until you either die or go into care. By borrowing money from the value of your house, you’ll have tax-free cash to spend on whatever you wish. The sum will be repaid from the proceeds of your house sale, with any surplus going to your family or wherever you choose in the usual way.
Anyone who’s ever moved house will agree it’s one of the most challenging life events to go through, both physically and emotionally. So, to make sure it’s the right decision for you: check out our equity release guide.