parents buying a new house and think they're making a mistake(30 Posts)
...but I think I need to let them make the mistake.
Parents are selling their current home, which they built and have been in for nearly 40 yrs. It is beautiful and has many "wows" and unique features, but we have known they will need to sell as its too big and time consuming to maintain (they are now in their 70's). We have known they would sell for some time and I dont think this is the cause of my concern (much as I loved their current home) as its absolutely the right thing to do. They have accepted a good offer, but this seems to have sent them into a panic and they have now put an offer in on a house which is probably the last house I would have ever chosen for them.
Nothing wrong with the house per se and I am sure many people would be happy to live there, but its very plane (1990's build), quite small boxy rooms (their house was largely open plan) and on a small estate of 6 houses all of which are identical. My parents have always danced to their own tune, never had neighbors and have always been quite into design (they have quite a bit of eames and other mid century pieces). They have been gently snobbish over the years about what they would see as "run of the mill" houses, and I can remember them bemoaning having to holiday at my grandparents 1950's brick council house.
I am therefore super surprised at their choice of house. When I have gently pushed them, they have said that it ticks most of the practical boxes, which it does, although its also not long term practical as its still quite big and has no downstairs bedroom for example.
I am worried they have panicked after their house sold more quickly and expensive and at their age are nervous about costs (eg of renting) or anything which needs work. I am really worried that they will hate living there (and are unlikely to have the budget to move again). But I don't want to be brutal about a house they may still buy despite anything I say, as I dont want to upset them.
I am also conscious that there may be some of my feelings in this, both that it makes explicit that they are no longer as able as they once were (or as DH puts it, that they are waiting to die!) and also, selfishly, as we would normally spend holidays with them (they live quite far away) and there is nothing which I would look forward to in staying in this house.
So AIBU? Do I say anything more (they know I don't really like the house but we haven't discussed it in any detail). Have anyone else's parents downsized?
It'll look a bit more like theirs once their stuff is in it. You seem quite invested in this tbh.
Could you find a few more things in the area which your think would be more them and send them the particulars?
and there is nothing which I would look forward to in staying in this house
er aren't you visiting to see your parents?
I think all you can do is gently point out the lack of downstairs bedroom and take it from there. Maybe their priorities have changed as they've got older? Practicality over style?
What's the location of the house? My PIL are just about to move from a beautiful 'character' house to a very plain, boxy house. However boxy house is within walking distance of shops, the doctor, a park, the social club that FIL drinks in and several of their friends and extended family. They will easily be able to live in this house without a car. Their priorities have changed massively. Boxy house will also take a stairlift - character house couldn't.
Could it be that your parents have similar priorities now?
I think as most people move from their 70s to their 80s, their needs change quite considerably. If they intend this home to be their forever home, they really need to look at being within walking distance to local shops, perhaps, the home being on one level, etc. The last thing most 80+ year olds want to do is to move house again but they have to if they can't live in their own home.
The problem is that in their 70s, a lot of people still feel really young and it's great if they do. Ten years on, however, things are very different. If they then can't drive, or walk far, or walk up steps, then their needs are so different. They really need to consider this before buying.
It seems a shame that your parents have to move, but what were you expecting them to downsize to? Living in a cul de sac of 6 houses sounds great assuming everyone looks out for each other. Is it close to public transport? Shops? Someday they may need to stop driving and public transport will keep them independent. Maybe if they can walk to a shop they won't need someone to come and drive them. Maybe one of the neighbours in the "boxy" house will mow the lawn, put out the wheely bin some day. It's not about aesthetics at that age. They probably realise that.
I think it sounds like you're mourning the old home OP. Your parents sound happy with their choice and you can't control the future if they happen to find it's not what they'd hoped once they moved in.
So what if they've got Eames furniture? I do...and I live in a 1980s build bungalow!
Yabu and also lucky. My dp's have chosen to stay in their rambling old cottage, which whilst very characterful and interesting, is an absolute nightmare at times as they have aged and become more infirm - it's down an old potholed track and as they no longer drive and it's miles away from the bus stop we all have to bounce down there several times a week, it's too big and cluttered, the stairs are dangerous, it costs loads to maintain and the garden is too much. I know that they love it and we all help to look after them and their home but I do wish my dp's had been as sensible as yours and moved to something more manageable when they could have coped with all of that.
My parents (well my mum and stepdad) downsized a few years ago. They had a fairly large period property and my mum had been wanting rid for quite a while but my stepdad was digging in his heels. Then, on a whim, they (decision mostly taken by stepdad) signed up for a very dodgy sounding scheme where they handed over their home and in return got a park home and equity release. Me and my siblings were horrified and tried to warn against it but they were deeply offended at the criticism and went ahead anyway (I fear they'd already signed by the time they told anyone).
To cut a long story short, it turned out to be a massive con, they lost virtually everything and now live in very modest accommodation , of which they only own a small share. It's impacted their physical and mental health and although the conman was convicted, it's unlikely they'll get a penny back.
This isn't a situation you'll be in yourself with your stents but I guess the reason I'm writing this is because if it had been both my parents I would have felt much more able to speak my mind. As it was my stepdad, I felt it wasn't really any of my business.
Having said all that, they seem fairly happy in their fairly characterless, low maintenance boxy new-build!
When my parents retired, they moved from a beautiful country cottage with large gardens and views to the mountains, to a 'boxy' bungalow in a small development. I was horrified initially, but their priorities had changed. Their new house had neighbours, was near shops and services, all within easy (and level) walks. They could easily get the bus into town. Their house was modern and well-insulated, so very easy (and cheap) to heat. My Dad became very ill soon after they moved, and the neighbours were wonderful support to my Mum. When he died, she was able to cope much better because she had people around her.
She loves 'curtain twitching' and seeing everyone going about. She's part of a community, and her house/garden are still manageable for her.
My parents decided to downsize a few years back and took me and my sister to see the first house they put an offer on. It wasn't right for all sorts of reasons and we were brutally honest. They rented, waited, and offered on a 1930s house with lovely features. Five years on they still love it and are do happy they didn't get the other house. I would talk to them - no point being wise after the event.
Let them get on with it. Its horrible to have to face a major life change and they are handling it with dignity. It helps to make these kinds of adjustments and decisions yourself, and not ignore them and have them forced on you.
They may have had to make a radical change in the way they think. Theres nothing to say they cant move again in a few years, maybe it was just too much for them to move strght from their dream home into a bungalow.
This way, they are not doing that; they will be moving from an average house into a bungalow. It makes sense.
My gm downsized and couldn't keep her lovely furniture.
She spent ages visiting family to find the best place for each item. For instance my parents got the good table. Then after the move she would visit family and see the good furniture having its new life.. whilst she lived hers without the burden of the big house & old "stuff".
Imperial and BoBo have said it really, what is ok at 70+ is often not suitable at 80.My DMIL has to climb the stairs on her hands and knees, my DM still manages stairs but it's very slow and she wouldn't manage if they were in her house and she had to go up and down regularly.
People often leave it too late to move to their final home and once they realise what they need (bungalow, or decent size downstairs with bathroom and bedroom on ground floor) they don't feel able to cope with a move. Downsizing is tricky as people look round smaller houses and then say 'oh no I can't live here, I can't fit all my stuff in' this may have influenced their choice of new home as well.
Is your parents current property set in a large plot? What I would also worry about is being contained with several other houses. Lots of noise from children, cars etc maybe?
I don't think the style of the property is an issue, just the practicalities and location.
As long as it isn't some weird " scheme" I'd embrace it. Nice to free yourself from the shackles of accumulated stuff you no longer need /like/ can be arsed to worry about.
It's frightening how fast you deteriorate at that age. My mum's 86 and when she moved into her house, about 12 years ago, they were still able to drive long distances, do the garden, go upstairs etc. She's in very good health now but ordinary things like climbing a few steps are now impossible for her. And she's quite a walk from the shops - as she gets older, she won't be able to do that. She doesn't want to move either, as this is where my dad lived with her. Your parents really need to look really seriously at where they want to live in the future.
It sounds like your parents are sensible and practical so they're downsizing. I understand you might find it upsetting to see your family home go too. However, just trust your parents judgement - perhaps they fancy a bit a a change of the type of property they live in... they'll need time to adjust but they might just be happy in the new place ;)
Sometimes when people make a massive deal out of disparaging other people's lifestyles, there's a little bit of trying to defend and justify the choices they've made, not all of which may be truly satisfying. So wow factor, highly designed house, great. Cold, impractical house, not so great. Individuality, great. No good neighbours, not great.
There is some snobbishness in this. Turning their noses up at spending time with their parents in a "1950's brick council house" inclines me to dislike them and your comments about having no desire to spend your holidays with them now they don't have a fabby house, makes me feel the same about you.
If they have such a fab house now, they must be selling for a good amount. I can understand the not wanting to downsize too drastically and therefore not going too small. So why couldn't they afford to move again?
This little self-contained community could be just what they need. It could be a new lease of life for them where they actually have good friends and neighbours on the doorstep. Or, they might find they don't like it. But they haven't burnt their boats. They can move again if they want to.
I am going to go against the grain and say YANBU to be concerned. Have you spoken to them about it? It may very well be that, as you say, they have slightly panicked or got frightened at the thought of not having their own home rather than moving into a house they love.
Would they consider renting temporarily while finding the right house? In their 70s they actually have (hopefully) a long time to be in a house that they will love and be able to make their own. This may be one of their last moves and it would be a shame if they bought somewhere without having enough time really to consider if it is right for them.
There is nothing wrong at all with moving into a house on a small estate, of course. However it isn't right for everybody. If they have enjoyed having somewhere unique then I agree that they might not have found the right house. If it were my parents I would try to discuss it with them, and perhaps also have a look to see if you can find anywhere else that they might be interested in. It does sound to me that they might need some reassurance and encouragement.
Me and dh are only 50 but we have started down sizing and are going for newer over old character.
Our needs have changed and we need a much smaller home.
Not as much garden as have other things to do now.
I hope it's not yet, but I can see when we'll want to go even smaller or other areas for easier access to amenities.
I bet they know exactly what they want/ need and it ticks all their boxes.
It can be hard to see our parents getting old, I can remember it with mine.
My parents did exactly the same - downsized from unique house they'd built themselves to large-ish, 4 bed, 10 year old box on an estate. My mum rejoiced at how little housework, decorating and maintenance there was suddenly, though I don't think they ever loved the new house. They made the small garden over, all designer-y, and 5 years later moved to something more unusual again. They are fine. I don't see why you think your parents won't be able to move again - it sounds like they still have substantial equity and headroom to trade "down" twice.
You are right that you need to let them do this. Moving to a non-ideal house really isn't the end of the world, it's not even really a problem. And they might get rather hurt if you criticise their choice of home, however well meant.
Mil made a similar move a few years ago. Her new place is truly tiny, but she is so happy not to be worrying about maintenance of the big house and garden that we can all see how it was the right decision for her. Having a lump sum in the bank seems to have given her a lot of comfort too.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.