Mrs Twilight Years is a 70-something with a passion for property and living life to the full. She covers everything in her Zoopla column, from how to afford an electricity bill on a pension to making a quilt cover at her weekly patchwork group.
My name is Mrs Twilight Years and last month I hit the grand old age of 70. I like to think I’m quite fit and healthy, having celebrated my birthday in the Hampshire skies flying a small aircraft under the instruction of a former RAF pilot.
But there is no denying at this age, there are some things that you have to approach differently. And where you live is one of them.
Having thought extensively during the past few years about how long my husband and I can continue living and maintaining the detached family home, we have decided to move.
Friends recommend moving while we still have the energy to face the emotional and physical upheaval.
We have finally found a smaller house that meets our changing requirements and we put in an offer at the weekend.
It is in the same town where we currently live, meaning we can stay near our friends that we’ve built up during the past decade, but the new property will undoubtedly be less demanding on our time and financial resources.
While the mortgage has been paid off, the running costs on our existing home are higher than we would like and will continue to rise.
We want to get out and travel while we still can, instead of staying indoors and maintaining a property that is now too large for just the two of us (our daughters having long since left home) and a ruby-coloured King Charles Cavalier.
I’m certainly no novice when it comes to moving – having moved 14 times during my adult life – but even now the process is beginning to feel daunting and so now is the right time to downsize.
Searching for a property for later life is certainly a different exercise – is there a downstairs toilet, a walk-in shower and easily accessible fittings. Is there local transport – such as a reliable bus stop nearby to reach services like doctors, shops, family and friends when it is no longer best to drive? And if alterations are required, is there scope to carry them out?
We’re now waiting to see if our offer has been accepted. It’s the beginning of new chapter in our retirement and I hope you will follow – and comment on – our Twilight Years journey as it unfolds.
(*Real name not used to protect the innocent, particularly family and friends)
Retirement properties for sale:
One bedroom property in Bournemouth for £65,000
Two bedroom terrace in Harrogate for £64,950
Two bedroom flat in Leatherhead for £174,950
From Nigella Lawson to Jamie Oliver and Michel Roux, there is a plethora of perfect pancake recipes available ahead of this evening’s Shrove Tuesday celebrations. But do you have the perfect kitchen in which to prepare the mix of eggs, milk and flour? Zoopla highlights 10 of the best kitchens in properties currently for sale.
1. Seven bedroom detached house in Somerset for £8m
2. Five bedroom detached house in Hertfordshire for £1,895,000
3. Four bedroom detached house in Chulmleigh for overs over £500,000 (plenty of room for tossing pancakes)
4. Five bedroom detached house in Trevone Bay for £850,000
5. Seven bedroom property in Halifax for £1,290,000
6. Six bedroom detached house in Surrey for £10,950,000
7. Three bedroom detached house in Kent for £695,000
8. Five bedroom detached house in Kensington for £11m
9. Five bedroom detached house in Bristol for £1,995,000
10. Six bedroom terrace in London’s Eaton Square for £34m
The most famous house in Cheshire is probably the neo-Georgian confection that belongs to Wayne and Coleen Rooney. The house, which the couple had built after tearing down a humble 1930s home near Prestbury, has everything you might imagine this couple would desire – from Grecian-style statues dotting the garden, to a giant pool, cinema, and a white leather sofa embedded with Swarovski crystals at a reported cost of £10,000. But Cheshire has a lot more to offer than footballer-style trophy mansions.
This 905 square mile slice of North West England offers wild open countryside dotted with historic farmhouses, some breathtaking villages, not to mention the historic, walled city of Chester.
“Chester is a very beautiful place to live,” said Robert Reed, manager of Fine & Country. “It is a city that has a lot of history and I think people are always attracted to that. But it is also a city that means it has got a lot going on – an arts scene, some good restaurants. The only thing against it is that the retail offer could be stronger.”
A period four bedroomed townhouse within Chester’s city walls would cost from around £650,000 or, with the same budget, you could opt for one of its satellite villages (Christleton, Waverton and Mollington are particularly recommended) and buy a large, detached family house with a great garden.
Another option Reed suggests is the aspirational village of Tarporley. Its Georgian housing stock and rural feel makes this village, a 45 minute drive from Salford and 35 minutes from Warrington, highly sought after. Its good facilities – pubs, schools and shops – are another point in its favour. Budget around £200,000 to buy a pretty two bedroom cottage in the centre of the village, but huge family homes with a few acres and stabling, would cost you around £1.5m.
This is, of course, far above the Cheshire norm. House prices in the county currently stand at £209,028, up 4.62 per cent on a year ago.
In Chester prices are higher, at an average £223,677, and rising faster, up 7.26 per cent in the last year.
Tarporley is doing still better, with an average price of £336,309, up 12.47 per cent in the last 12 months.
Alderley Edge is within the south Manchester belt which also includes high end locations like Wilmslow and Prestbury, home to the Rooneys. Crispin Harris, a director at Jackson-Stops & Staff, says “the sky’s the limit” when it comes to fantasy house hunting in these postcodes. A budget of £10m, for example, would buy you a huge contemporary country house set in 20 acres complete with little necessities like a helipad.
But, to put to bed one common delusion, the area isn’t packed to the gills with footballers. “They make good press, but actually our clients are much more likely to be business people and entrepreneurs,” said Harris.
Another misperception is that you need to be loaded to live in this area. Not true, says Harris, who estimates that for £350,000 you could pick up a three bedroomed terrace while £500,000 would buy you a four bedroomed family home.
“It is not cheap, but it is not out of reach either,” he said.
The advantage of the area, aside from the chance of spotting Coleen Rooney in the pub, include great schools, great transport links (trains run direct from Wilmslow to Manchester and London), good shops and a thriving café culture.
However, if you want to get away from it all then Harris points out that Cheshire reaches to the foothills of the peak district where your search should begin in pretty villages like Rainow, where cottages start at around £250,000.
Properties for sale in Cheshire:
1. Seven bedroom detached house (POA)
2. Three bedroom detached house for £355,000
3. Four bedroom townhouse for £350,000
Ever dream of living in a castle? Now is your chance. Here is our pick of castles for sale that could be your next home. Ranging from £220,000 to £16M there is quite a variety to choose from.
1. A French Renaissance castle – need we say more.
8 bed in Paris, France, £2,2M – Home Hunts
2. A real rural retreat awaits you in this magnificent castle steeped in history.
8 bed in The West of Ireland, £5.3M – Ganly Walters
3. This French castle with extensive landscaped gardens definitely has the wow factor.
16 bed in Auvergne, France, £2.4M – Groupe Mercure
4. Westbury Castle is Tudor-Gothic style. Wings of this great estate can be purchased separately.
14 bed in Prestatyn, £1,56M – Beresford Adams
5. Original and quaint castle living is offered in this semi-fortified, late 16th c. residence ready to move into.
3 bed in Argyll And Bute, £375,000 – Knight Frank
6. Having being built between 1901 and 1903, Carfield Castle underwent major restoration work in 2003 and is a superb Edwardian family home.
7 bed in Hertfordshire, £2,250,000 – Strutt & Parker
7. Your chance to run an authentic 15th century castle hotel.
25 bed in Sutherland, Scotland, £2,250,000 – Strutt & Parker
8. Built in the late 15th Century this castle still enjoys an idyllic setting and when restored it would be five stories tall.
Cupar, Scotland £220,000 – Smiths Gore
9. A one of a kind domain including a feudal castle from the 6th-7th centuries.
Dordogne, France £16.4M – Home Hunts
10. All getting a bit pricey? How about this castle entrance housing a stunning 4 bed.
4 bed in South Milford, £622,500 – Beadnall & Copley
Which are the most popular properties in February so far? Valued from £70,000 to £90m and located in a variety of places – from London to Birmingham – here are the most viewed properties on Zoopla.
1. An impressive 21 bedroom home in Mayfair for £90m. Found in one of the most exclusive areas of London, this is Britain’s most expensive terrace for sale. It has been completely refurbished, and includes seven reception rooms, a garden, garage and a swimming pool.
2. Six bedroom detached house in Cirencester for £1,750,000. Celebrity interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is selling his Cotswold mansion – dubbed poshington Manor – to move back to London.
3. Two bedroom flat in Cheshire for £100,000. This modern, ground floor apartment is in a popular location Northwich and comes with double glazing, gas central heating, communal gardens and allocated off road parking.
4. Five bedroom apartment at One Hyde Park for £68m. This 9,000 square foot flat is in one of the most iconic blocks in London, boasting views of both Knightsbridge and Hyde Park, and a 65 metre hallway.
5. Three bedroom terrace house in Birmingham for £70,000. This property is in the street made famous by TV’s Benefits Street. It has dropped three places from last month.
6. Four bedroom detached house in Crewe for £350,000. With its leopard print wallpaper in the hallway, this property is ideal for buyers looking to tap into their wild side.
7. Nine bedroom property in London for £38m. This mansion is in The Bishops Avenue – one of London’s most expensive residential roads – and comes complete with separate staff accommodation.
8. Three bedroom terrace house in London for £1,250,000. A refurbished home within a popular development on Wapping High street, just downstream from Tower Bridge and St Katharine Docks.
9. Nine bedroom detached home in London (POA). A rare opportunity to restore this Grade II listed house in Kensington, which extends to 20,000 square foot. Full planning permission has been granted for the works to include a separate cottage, tennis court and garden pavillion. Up one place on last month.
10. Two bedroom flat in London for £164,950. This property in SE20 is in need of modernizing and is offered chain free for a quick sale.