Getting older and moving into retirement can be a very exciting time of your life; an opportunity to truly relax and spend more time with loved ones.
However, in all the excitement, it can be easy to forget that this is also a time of great, often unexpected, change. You’ll have more leisure time, perhaps more time to see the family, do those home improvements you’ve been planning for or even go on that trip of a lifetime. As we get older our personal needs change too. Healthcare and wellbeing is of particular importance and ensuring that we have a home that’s adaptable throughout retirement is paramount.
Well, one way you can prepare for retirement is to make your home more comfortable and mobility-friendly. Not only can these tweaks maintain your current comfort and physical well-being, but they can also improve your mental health in retirement. After all, you may be spending more time in the home and garden than you have done while working.
Read on to see the different types of adjustments you can make to your home and how equity releasea could help you fund them.
How much does it cost to prepare your home for retirement?
From small swaps, like non-slip bath mats, to larger additions that require more thought and investment, such as more space with a new extension or a new bathroom or kitchen.
To help make the process easier for you, we’ve scoured the internet and trusted sources to collate the most common investments. We’ve broken these down into low-level, medium-level, and high-level investments, so you can browse within a specific budget.
To clarify, each price listed is an average based on the cost across various markets, so if you have the time and ability to shop around, you could find the product you want for a cheaper price than listed here. Instead, treat these figures as the best estimate to help plan any renovations.
Low levels of investments: up to £100
Depending on your requirements, many enhancements can be made with a quick trip to the high street.
For example, if you’re struggling with pain in your joints, neck, hip, or back - or you have limited mobility - then an amount as little as £6 could help kickstart your home adjustment journey.
Though slightly more expensive, grab bars are still a relatively low-cost addition to your home, helping those with mobility, balance, or fatigue issues. These can be installed anywhere around the home – bathroom, bedroom, or by doors – just ensure they are a different colour to the wall for improved visibility if required.
For issues with joint and hand pain, or if you suffer from arthritis, items such as wide-handled cutlery can make mealtimes a bit easier. Similarly, replacing doorknobs with lever handles could help you navigate your home with more ease.
If you’re looking to save on energy bills in retirement there are also a few low-cost items such as solar-powered lights and smart light bulbs which will put you in control as well as help to cut overall energy costs.
Look at the table, below, for more low-level home adjustments you can make for under £100:
|Investment||Suitable for||Average Cost|
|Smoke Alarm||Respiratory, mobility||£94|
|Handrails||Mobility, balance, visibility||£65|
|Smart tags||Memory impairment||£56|
|Smart lightbulb bundles||Respiratory, mobility||£45|
|Solar-powered garden lights||Visibility||£20|
|Grab bars||Balance, mobility, fatigue||£19|
|Wide handled cutlery||Arthritis, hand issues or injuries, limited movement||£15|
|Self-watering plant pots||Accessibility, hand or reach||£15|
|2 handled cups||Arthritis, painful joints, limited hand movement||£14|
|Replace doorknobs with lever handles||Mobility, hand injuries, arthritis||£10|
|Shoehorn||Back, neck, joint, or hip pain||£6|
Medium levels of investment: £100 to £1,000
If you’re able to spend £100 and upwards to ensure your comfort, then there are a few items you could look to install in your home.
Starting from the most expensive, installing a bath lift to help you in and out of the tub would cost around £650. So, if mobility, balance, or fatigue issues are making bath times quite difficult for you - and standing to shower isn’t comfortable either - investing in a bath lift could be beneficial.
Of course, retirement isn’t just about feeling comfortable, it’s about truly enjoying your free time. That’s why many people take up new hobbies, such as gardening. If you struggle with mobility, however, this could prove difficult. To explore your new-found hobby with comfort and ease, you could install raised garden beds to make your plants accessible without the need to bend or kneel down.
For more medium-level investments for your home adjustments, take a look below:
|Investment||Suitable for||Average Cost|
|Bath lift||Mobility, balance, fatigue||£650|
|Robot lawn mower||Respiratory, mobility, fatigue||£640|
|Raised garden beds||Respiratory, mobility||£400|
|Alarm bundles||Respiratory, mobility||£220|
|App controlled thermostat||Respiratory, mobility||£100|
High levels of investment: £1,000 and above
For those who want to truly transform their home and enjoy their retirement in comfort and confidence, there are larger-scale home adjustments to consider too.
For example, if mobility and balance are a concern, but you still want to enjoy your garden in the warmer months, then non-slip decking or non-slip paving could be the solution. For the materials and installation, the investment would set you back between £7,000 and £7,500.
As for the colder months, when you might be worried about feeling the pinch of heating bills, products like double glazing or wall insulation are great for keeping you warm, as well as saving money in the long run.
If you want to explore other high-level investments you can make to your home, browse the table, below:
|Investment||Suitable for||Average Cost|
|Home extension||Increase space||£48,000|
|Air source heat pump||Heating||£15,000|
|Solar panels||Energy efficiency||£8000|
|Double glazing windows||Energy efficiency||£7,500|
|Non-slip decking (with rail)||Mobility||£7000|
|Stair lift||Mobility, balance, vision||£4,000|
|Made to measure ramp||Mobility||£3,300|
|Upgrade from system boiler to combi boiler||Energy efficiency||£3,000|
|Electric bed||Mobility, arthritis||£2,000|
|Electric car charging point||Energy efficiency, convenience||£1,000|
|Recliner chairs||Mobility, leg injuries||£1,000|
The importance of accessibility in your home
From tackling age-related physical health problems to learning how to adjust to new-found freedoms, growing older and reaching retirement can feel overwhelming.
One of the biggest adjustments in this period of your life could be understanding that your physical wellbeing and limitations are changing. That’s why, as you move into retirement, improving accessibility in your home as early as possible can prove to be an invaluable investment.
To shed more light, Dr Marianne Trent, Clinical Psychologist at Good Thinking Psychology, talks about the benefits home adjustments can have for your physical and mental wellbeing.
“When approaching retirement, there can be mixed feelings. There might be great joy from spending more time with family and people in your immediate circle, but there can also be less pleasant feelings linked to physical health."
“Future-proofing the home can be a sensible first step. For example, increasing fuel efficiency with the installation of modern double glazing can keep you warm in the summer while also saving money on energy bills.
“In a person’s 70s and beyond, many are still in robust health, but this can be a chance to think about whether you want to still be doing all the things you’ve done in your younger years.
“You also might want to consider investing in gadgets around the home to reduce the physical load upon yourself, such as robot lawnmowers. Or, if slips and trips have become apparent, a stair lift could be an invaluable investment.”
How can equity release help fund your home improvements?
With some home accessibility improvements rising to £50,000, these sometimes essential investments can be difficult to balance alongside the other expenses of retirement. But that doesn’t mean you need to miss out – and that’s where equity release can help.
Available to homeowners over the age of 55, equity release allows you to access some of the money locked in the value of your home while continuing to own and live in the property. That means you don’t need to downsize to a smaller home to pay for the accessibility improvements – the tax-free cash from equity release could fund the modifications needed for retirement.
There are also many different equity release plans to choose from, each tailored to a different type of customer. Lifetime mortgages, for example, let you release equity as a large lump sum, whereas drawdown plans allow you to withdraw funds on a monthly basis.
To find out more about equity release, head over to our how does equity release work page. Or, if you’d like to see how much you can release from your home, try out one of our equity release calculators.