Grandparents are looking to move to live nearer their children – and vice versa – as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, according to one property search company.
Before COVID, living near relatives was a concept many home buyers set little store by and travelling from one side of the UK to the other was routine.
Three months of restrictions on travel and social mixing have put a stop to that, according to Stacks Property Search, with many Britons moving back towards a Continental-style extended family.
“It’s hard to believe just how quickly that freedom was taken from us. And how valuable it became to have family living nearby,” said Stacks regional director for Dartmoor, Grace Jephson.
“While it’s likely that we will return to something approaching the old normal one day, it’s become clear that lockdown gave many buyers time to reflect on what was really important to them.”
Urge to move closer
Inquiries to Stacks Property Search’s country offices since the property market was unlocked have revealed a strong and widespread urge to buy property near other family members.
“While this trend may be exaggerated in this immediate post-lockdown era, there’s a strong likelihood that the inclination to be based near one’s nearest and dearest will become much more important than it has in the recent past,” added Jephson.
“The country is full of retired homeowners who felt perfectly happy in their old family homes and who are now looking to downsize, preferably to be nearer children and grandchildren. And equally many working parents who have been working from home whilst home-schooling young children who would have been overwhelmingly grateful to have parents nearby to help out.”
Location is key
She said location is the first hurdle agents are likely to encounter when trying to help generational movers.
“Younger families may prefer a village or rural location, while the older generation who are downsizing might prefer to be closer to a wider range of facilities and transport.
“’Popping’ distance is unscientific but ideal. Is it close enough to pop over for a drink, to pick up the kids from school, to help out with a minor chore. This is the ideal distance, something in the region of a 15-minute drive.”
But she warned against a ‘granny annexe’ solution unless all parties are totally committed. “The reality of such an arrangement can fall short of the vision,” she said. “Living so close to each other may be just too close, and finding a property that suits everybody’s needs can be tricky.”