It used to be that the retirement dream was to leave the city and head for the seaside – if not the year-round sun of the south of Spain, then perhaps the clean air of the British coast.
But could it be that the emergence of the ‘Smarties’ – Senior Market Town Retirees – is set to change that?
These tend to be couples and singles aged 65-plus, who have chosen to move to green and pleasant market towns for their retirement . Places with a thriving community of all ages, small enough to have a ‘villagey’ feel but large enough to have all the regular amenities and social needs that they would be used to.
“Old age and retirement used to be a more homogenous group,” explained Richard Jenkings from Experian.
“In the past people would go on holiday to the seaside and then a lucky few would then retire to those same resorts. Today we still see this happening, but a rising trend is for better-off retirees to move not to the traditional sea-side resorts, but instead to pleasant, often historic, cathedral cities and quality market towns.
As for the ‘Smarties’, many will have downsized from family homes in urban areas, to spacious properties with more green space – and chances are they’ll have long since paid off their mortgage.
The UK’s top 10 towns for ‘Smarties’:*
Yeovil Bury St Edmunds
Kendal Bangor (Gwynedd)
Also, with better health, higher pensions and savings, and a tendency to be more active than most of a similar age, their purchase power is likely to be higher than their less affluent peers.
Jenkings adds: “On the other hand, the more financially-limited elderly are more likely to remain in the areas where they already lived. Their limited resources will have significant influence for their mobility, health and patterns of care and consumption.”
Indeed, many older people aren’t so lucky. Plenty of elderly people live alone, either in social or private housing often built with the elderly in mind, and requiring an increasing amount of support – they are less confident with technology, with limited use of the internet and least likely to own a mobile phone.
And the seaside retirement dream lives on for a significant number of older singles and couples who live independently by the coast, perhaps having long since seen off their children and now living in smaller properties.
So where will you retire to? For some of us it’s a long, long way off – for some of us we might never stop working!
*Research from Experian’s consumer classification tool Mosaic, April 2016