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Downsizing to flat

(31 Posts)
P1234 Sat 16-Jan-21 16:53:02

Thinking of moving into a flat. Have any of you grans done this. Was it a good or bad move and are they noisy. Any advice is welcome. Thanks

AGAA4 Sat 16-Jan-21 17:01:02

I moved into my two bedroom flat from a 4 bedroom house 14 years ago. It was a very good move for me but much depends on the area and neighbours. Most of my neighbours are over 65 so it is not noisy here.
I would suggest finding out who your neighbours will be before you move in anywhere. My flat is in a rural area which is what I wanted so you need to think about the area you would like to live in too.

petra Sat 16-Jan-21 17:05:58

The trouble with flats, is, the dinamics can change very quickly.
Our last home was a flat. When we bought it ( a large Edwardian house converted) everyone owned their flat and lived in them.
Over a period of 2 years the two flats under us ( we had the whole top floor) were rented out to people I didn't want to live near. Then another on the ground floor was rented out.
We had a beautiful garden that was maintained by the managing agents. That all changed. That company sold out and the new managers weren't to bothered by some of the residents behaviour.

Sunlover Sat 16-Jan-21 17:07:08

We moved from a 4 bed house to a large 3 bed apartment. It is very well situated near bus and tube station. We can walk to the shops and restaurants.
We love it. We have a large balcony and some shared gardens. We have no problems with noise.
Make sure you have parking spaces. This is the only problem on our complex as some flats only have one space but residents have two cars. This has caused problems when they take over the Visitor spaces.

Redhead56 Sat 16-Jan-21 17:15:30

We moved our aunt and uncle to a sheltered accommodation. It was basically a small ground floor flat with community garden very safe and cosy. They did have car space but didn’t own cars.

blue25 Sat 16-Jan-21 17:28:46

I’ve lived in flats when the noise from above was terrible. People stomping around, loud music & banging. I would never do it again as I really value peace & quiet!

Chestnut Sat 16-Jan-21 17:37:23

It's a bit hit and miss with flats. The neighbours above or below you may be quiet and considerate, or not! Check what the area is like and try and find out who would be living above and below you, but I don't think you can ever really know until you move in. If you can't handle other people's noise then maybe get a small house. I know some modern houses are very small, one bedroom even.

Oopsadaisy1 Sat 16-Jan-21 17:43:37

My Mum moved from a house to a flat and regretted it almost immediately, the nice neighbours moved out and the flats were bought as rentals, by the time any complaint was being dealt with, the tenants had moved on and new ones were in.
TBH many new housing estates now have a similar problem.

I suppose it depends on why you are thinking of having a flat?
Also bear in mind that if you are buying a leasehold flat there will be yearly /monthly charges to find as well as normal household bills.

PollyDolly Sat 16-Jan-21 17:55:50

When you do find somewhere that you think might be suitable do your research and read the small print! I once lived in a first floor flat with with three others on the same landing. There was a fire door at the top of the stairs which a couple of residents always slammed. All the flats were "no smoking" dwellings but one of my neighbours used to stand by the open landing window, the smell of stale smoke was awful and the land agents did bugger all about it!

Lucca Sat 16-Jan-21 17:58:42

I moved from a house to a flat about 10 years ago and loved it from the very first day ! I am lucky the four other flats are owner occupied by quiet pleasant people.

Ashcombe Sat 16-Jan-21 18:00:19

After my divorce six years ago, I moved from a large house into a two bedroomed flat in an old, solidly built property which was originally a hotel, built in Edwardian times. It is situated opposite a beautiful park and near Babbacombe Downs.

As it is an old building, the walls are solid with a good level of soundproofing between floors. Occasionally, I'm aware of a neighbour's washing machine on fast spin but generally noise is not an issue.

A local property management company deals promptly with issues regarding the structure and exterior of the building although obviously there is a fee for their services, which should be in the details provided by estate agents.

There are seven flats in total, one being used by a couple for holidays. The residents range in age from 3years - 70years+ and we all get on well. In fact I celebrated (socially distanced) outside with my neighbours on my 70th birthday last May when we enjoyed cake and fizz, etc on a very warm evening. I have been touched by the offers of help with shopping, etc during lockdowns.

I love living here, not least because, in normal circumstances, I'm away quite regularly (DH in France, DD2 and DS live far away) and it is very secure to lock up and leave.

Good luck with your flat hunting, if you decide to go ahead! smile

Charleygirl5 Sat 16-Jan-21 18:00:48

I know it is a couple of small things but they mean a lot to me and that is I love hanging my washing out and if the weather is decent, lovely sitting outside having a cup of coffee etc. I live in a 3 bedroom house and would think 3 times about moving to a flat.
You also have no control over service charges which may be reasonable today but rocket over the next few years.
Noisy neighbours would be a no-no for me.

Calendargirl Sat 16-Jan-21 18:04:28

My mum moved to a one bedroom ground floor flat when she was 75, lived there until she died at 92. It was freehold, not leasehold. Her neighbours were mostly elderly people as well, she could hear the upstairs tv sometimes, but not a problem.
It was in the centre of town so handy for shops.

It was a good move for her, her last 17 years were better for living somewhere small, cosy and safe.

Greeneyedgirl Sat 16-Jan-21 18:20:19

We have considered a flat for our old age but some things stop us.

Noisy neighbours. My mother is deaf and her tv is always on high volume, so it’s not just young ones who can be noisy. Washing, I like to hang out to dry and would hate a washer dryer. Stairs. Must be a lift. Outside space. Must have at least a large balcony. Heating. No storage heaters, want full control of economic heating. Ground rent & maintenance. Don’t want a rip off landlord. Need 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms to accommodate family visits. 2 car parking spaces. Plenty of storage space........We haven’t found anywhere yet grin

Elusivebutterfly Sat 16-Jan-21 19:14:54

When I was downsizing I considered a flat but in my area the nicer flats have enormous service charges which are too much on a pension so just went for a smaller house.

vampirequeen Sat 16-Jan-21 20:44:04

We moved into a one bedroom flat with a communal garden a couple of years ago and we've never looked back. We're in a purpose built block of four flats owned by the council so we don't have to worry about it being leasehold. There is slightly more noise than when you live in a house but not that much. Make sure that you choose a flat with sound absorbing floors.

However, much as I love our flat and wouldn't want to move, if I was in the position to buy a property I would look at a bungalow. You have all the advantages of a flat but a bit more privacy and a private garden.

P1234 Sun 17-Jan-21 07:16:58

Thanks everyone for your help. I am in a bungalow now but quite isolated and hilly. Thinking of something more central. Service charges and noise does put me off a flat though. More thought needed I think and have look around when restrictions are lifted. Thanks again

Franbern Sun 17-Jan-21 09:42:43

I am so happy that I managed to move from my house in a London suburb to a flat in Weston super Mare right at the end of 2019. Would have hated to had the last year at my house, but have been very happy here.

Did take me four years to make that move and a lot of that time was taken with really investigating the type of flat and location that I wanted.

So, the large Living room here is actually a better shape and far more roomy than the Through Lounge in my house. Have two bedrooms, one en-sute, and separate bathroom. Kitchen big enough for me to work in. Wide hallway. I love it it here. Have a large balcony on which I can sit in the summer, and have pots of plants to look at. Garage on ground floor.

The residents here form their own voluntary cttee which runs our own maintenance. With no company making profit from us, it keeps that cost reasonable. We each own our own bit of freehold, so no land rents. Built of thick Weston stone, you would have to be very, very noisy to impinge on your neighbours. I have had no problems over the last 15 months whatsoever.

When buying you have to agree, legally, to certain rules one of which is that we are not permitted to rent out our flats. Some blocks have an minimum age restriction for purchasers (usually 55 yrs), to prevent children and teenagers living in them. Ours does not, however all, but one of the 25 flats., are owned and lived in by people over that age.

Many flats do have gardens, if that is what you want. Usually ground floor ones, but not necessarily so - in this block there are two flats on the 5th floor which have good size garden areas (over the roofs as this floor is set back) . I most definitely did not want this, so happy not to have that responsibility any more.

You need to know exactly what you need and are looking for. I would say that some sort of balcony is important, not the Portia type ones, but somewhere you can sit and enjoy a drink. Watch out for parking, even if you do not run a car, you will need somewhere for your visitors and also for anybody you are having in to do work in your flat.

Beware that Retirement Flats are usually those that have a communal Lounge, maybe a central laundry room, and a House Manage (9-5 Monday to Friday), but are then very small, and very expensive and often quite controlled as to what you can actually do in your flat and when it is to be sold. I looked at two such blocks of these - they both also had a car park which was just designated First come-First served'.

I really love living in a first floor flat, feel so safe and secure and it is really good having my kitchen and living room so close to my bedroom. No longer all that wasted heat up the stairs, etc. or that 'climbing Everest' feeling at night. Equally, if I am having a very bad night, I can just move into my Living room for a time, or make myself a cup of tea in the kitchen.

Our car park is locked at 6 every night, (every flat owner has a key), the entrances/exits to the block have the porch areas closed off at night. It really does help us all to feel so safe. We have a large foyer area, and are fortunate that one of our volunteer residents does the most amazing faux flower arrangements in this, changing every couple of months. It is so beautiful there that any time a flat goes on the market, estate agents always include a couple of photos of this foyer in their sales brochures.

So, Yes, I would really suggest moving to a flat, particularly as you get older. do need to know exactly what is important to you both in terms of the flat itself and its location, so lots of investigations are required.

I was warned not to consider going into a flat which was a large house that had been re-configured. Only to look at purpose built flats. Many of those others do have some lovely, roomy flats, but the maintenance agreements/arrangements can be more of a problem. So, it would be buyer-beware!!!

Greeneyedgirl Sun 17-Jan-21 09:54:35

Franbern your flat sounds lovely, and just the sort we would be tempted by, but they are extremely few and far between, so many have the flaws that you have outlined. I have a particular aversion to so called “Retirement Flats” which as you say are very expensive and as far as I can see just a way of parting older people from their money.

Franbern Sun 17-Jan-21 10:18:33

Yes, I am very fortunate. One of the things I also wanted was to continue with Gas central htg. Because this block was built in the 1980's we have gas. When was sorting out the kitchen I found the 'blocked off' gas pipe and did consider having a gas hob put back - but then decided to continue with the electric hob. Got used to that much quicker than I expected and am more than happy with it now. But do appreciate still having a normal combi boiler for water and heating. The 7/52 maintenance for this is part of our Maintenance Agreement, although we are individually responsible for replacing out own boilers if BG tells us that is necessary.

Obviously a lift is a must. I was surprised how many purpose built blocks did NOT have one of these, and rarely are they in houses turned into flats. Lifts are expensive to maintain - and the greater part of our maintenance agreement seems to be taken up with service and on-going repairs to this.

Even in these strange times, it is rare for me to go a day without being able to exchange some sort of conversation with other residents. Even if it just to comment as to how cold, etc it is outside as we go in and out. This block is extremely close to the town centre, (I use a mobility scooter - kept and charged in my garage), and am within less than ten minutes trundle to High Street shops (those that are left!), Park, Theatre, Cinema, beach and Promenade, and the house of my daughter and her family. This flat cost to purchase less than 50% of the sale price of my 1930 terrace house.

P1234 Sun 17-Jan-21 14:20:43

Franbern, your flat sounds just what I would like. You are very lucky. When restrictions are lifted I will have a good look round. Thanks everyone I do appreciate your advice

LullyDully Sun 17-Jan-21 16:56:43

We moved to a lovely flat with spacious grounds, built in the 50's when space was not a problem.
There were some lovely people there but too many Moaning Minis. They made a hobby of complaining about something and everything.

Our grandchildren had to move on with us and we frequently had phone calls from the flat below to keep them quiet. They were very civilized children (unlike their father and uncle).

Personally I wouldn't choose a flat again because of the neighbours. You will of course , probably, be more lucky than us.

grannysyb Sun 17-Jan-21 18:25:42

My DD lived in a flat when she was first with her DH, noise was sometimes a problem, also they had several floods due to the upstairs neighbours carelessness with baths!

Chardy Sun 17-Jan-21 19:10:54

I live in the upstairs of a converted house, and downstairs and I own the freehold between us. I put in extra sound floor insulation just after I moved in. I also have a little outside space (which was top of my must-have list). I'm near the centre of town, good bus and rail links, and walking distance from the doctors' surgery. Getting my possessions down from house-size to flat-size was tough.

TwiceAsNice Mon 18-Jan-21 10:18:38

I moved from a house to a flat to be near my children. The flat is nice but I pay maintenance fees which go up every year , as it is leasehold . My daughters both own houses on the same development, in the next street. We are all very close and are considering pooling finances to buy a large house together with separate private spaces. I hope we do as I feel it will be much cheaper for me.

I’m divorced and work part time, not sure how I will manage when I stop work completely as area very expensive. Daughters disappointed in their houses as it is now apparent they were poorly built . Make sure you check out the money side of things comprehensively before you make up your mind . I also would not buy leasehold again