Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it?
As we age, and our health starts to suffer, we're thinking about our future more and more. One worry is whether we'll be able to continue living here indefinitely if/when one of us dies leaving the other alone, or if (or rather, when) husband is unable to continue driving a car. It's such a small hamlet, with no facilities, in a very rural area - yes it's lovely and we have very nice neighbours, but the downside is none of the necessary facilities are within walking distance, and we have no public transport here. Our neighbours are mostly our age or older, so they're in the same boat as ourselves. Will the surviving partner even be able to afford to remain here, bearing in mind we'll probably need taxis to take us around in the future, and they're not cheap?
We don't regret moving here to this house, we both love it and we've had 8 happy years here, and 18 months before that in our first Somerset house....moving down here from the Midlands has honestly been one of the best decisions we ever made. But with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better to choose a house still in a rural location, but much nearer to a town, or at least some basic facilities such as a GP surgery and a shop or two, and a bus service. Nobody likes moving house at the best of times, but the thought of possibly having to up sticks and move again, at some point in the future, fills me with horror.
But the thing we both regret the most, and would go back and change in a heartbeat if we could, is not buying another house when we sold our last house back in the Midlands in 2001. At the time, property prices were booming and we got a very good price for our house.....it sold at the full asking price just 2 days after we put it on the market. In fact, as it sold so quickly, we had no time to look around for another house to buy and took a 6 months lease on a rental property, planning on using the time to look for another house. However, we really liked the rental house, it was in a lovely quiet residential area and we had wonderful friendly neighbours with whom we got on really well. The letting agent said there was every possibility that the landlord (who had no intention of ever living in the property again) would agree to sell it to us, or if he didn't he'd be happy to have us as long term tenants. Well, he decided he didn't want to sell it and we ended up staying there as tenants for 9 years. After the first couple of years, when it became obvious we weren't going to be allowed to buy the house, we spent the banked profit from the sale of our previous house on a new car and a touring caravan, having decided we liked living there so much we wanted to stay.
And then everything changed and we moved to Somerset - fine, it had always been our dream to retire to the country, we just decided to do it before retirement, whilst we were still young enough to enjoy it, and were lucky enough to find a nice rental property quickly. But because of that decision years ago not to immediately buy another house, we've been stuck renting ever since. And will be for the rest of our lives. Which means that, whilst most people our ages will have paid off their mortgages and have more money available in their old ages, we're still going to be paying out hundreds of pounds every month ad infinitum. The big bonus of living in a rental property is that we don't have expensive maintenance costs, which are of course the landlord's responsibility. BUT we're at the landlord's mercy - if he decides he wants the house back for whatever reason (it will likely be money), then we're out on our ears. And that's always a worry. We did go to the CAB and the Council, to see what our rights were regarding social housing....we're only eligible for a 1-bedroom flat, but our chances of getting one aren't high as we don't (at the moment!) have any special needs.
As I said, hindsight is a wonderful thing.