The aging wave is about to roll over Norway. Over the next ten years, the great post-war generation will turn 80 years old.
In 2040, the proportion of people over the age of 80 will have almost doubled compared to today, figures from Statistics Norway show.
Many in this generation have a choice to make: Should you stay in the house, or should you find an apartment?
For many, this is a very difficult choice that is associated with strong emotions.
– What characterizes that buying group is that they arrive too late, says real estate agent Lise Borgen in Nordvik housing.
With about 2,000 home sales behind her in the Oslo area, including 400 estates, she knows what she’s talking about. She has also built up three brokerage offices.
– We rarely like to plan for something we might initially “fear”. It is easier to postpone it all, which is understandable, but with increasing age, a lot can change abruptly. With a little planning, you will be able to increase your quality of life.
Several are moving to an apartment
A recent study by researchers at OsloMet shows that more elderly people in the age group 60 to 75 have moved to more age-friendly housing over the past 20 years.
The increase is primarily due to more people getting older, but partly also to the fact that the elderly have changed their behavior.
– We see that the last-time buyers get a more important role in the housing market because people live longer than before. It is also the case that older people today move more than they have traditionally done in previous generations, says Jardar Sørvoll to klikk.no.
He is part of the group for age research and housing studies at the Welfare Research Institute NOVA, OsloMet.
– Some older people want to adapt their housing situation to old age. They would like an apartment in central areas where they can enjoy old age and be independent in their own home, Sørvoll continues.
In the districts it is different as there are usually few apartments and these can be more expensive than the houses sold. Sørvoll therefore encourages the construction of more central apartments in the districts.
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Bad to plan
An important finding in the study is that most people are poor at improving their current home in view of old age.
– It is said that Norwegians are world champions in renovation, but it does not seem that everything we do is so well thought out, Sørvoll states.
– Most people do not take the opportunity to make moves that will make it easier to live in the house when you get old. People do not do anything until they absolutely have to, and then it may be too late. Thus, a more common strategy is to look for new housing, says Sørvoll.
The ultimate solution?
This is an opinion shared by broker Borgen. She encourages married couples to talk about how to spend their old age while still young and fit.
– Married couples who take this talk and plan for further living situation while you are still in good health, create a predictability that makes everything easier if you were to be alone.
Borgen believes that this process should be started as early as the 1960s and launches the ultimate solution for those who can afford it:
Buy the dream apartment when it appears, and rent it out until you are ready to move out of the house.
One possibility is to buy an apartment you can thrive in and rather rent it out until you are ready to sell the house. Whether both are moving or you are alone, it has been a joint project and you have found what you want. This will help turn a “difficult situation into a positive experience”. Then you can start a new chapter in life with the one you love.
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When it’s too late
If you postpone the election for too long, you risk health problems or, in the worst case, death. Then the moving process immediately becomes far more difficult.
Borgen’s experience is that women are often more ready to move, while it is the man in the relationship who holds back.
– The men often need more time because they “just have to” carpent a little more in the carpenter’s shop first or similar. Then there is a dramatic change in health, and then you have no choice. Then you have to settle for a poorer solution that is available on the market there and then.
She tells the story of an elderly couple who had looked out for a certain area for several years and were willing to move there. But when the dream apartment finally came on the market, it was too late.
– The heirs of the older couple had been authorized to buy the apartment and won the bidding round. But afterwards the couple realized that they were too old and frail to move. They received a doctor’s declaration that a possible relocation could lead to an excessive burden. In the end, bidder 2 was offered to buy the apartment, but the older couple had to pay a deposit, as bidder 2 did not want to go higher.
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It hurts not to keep the house well maintained
Another sign that it may be time to move is that you can no longer keep the home well maintained.
– Many in this generation have been very good at taking care of the house and it can feel heavy and painful to feel that you no longer keep goals. That you do not have the strength to take the stain or repair the windows.
This is the last time buyers are looking for
- Sørvoll: – Older homeowners are extremely preoccupied with parking and they would prefer to have a parking garage in the basement. This is a generation that drives a car. We see that it varies a bit where they settle. Those who are interested in cultural offerings will live quite centrally, but those who are not so interested in this tend to live more sparsely populated. In sparsely populated areas, there are actually more people moving to houses from apartments than in the city. Maybe people will realize the dream of a small house in the country or move closer to home in their older years.
- Bail: – We often see that the young adults who live in houses that are rural and child-friendly, want a more active life when the children have moved away from home. They will then into the city center get an easy-going apartment with a lift and garage as well as walking distance to everything the city has to offer from cafes to various cultural offerings. The elderly who have been waiting for the house sale a little too long, want to move into apartments where they have access to “everything”, preferably in the same building: Farms with easy-care apartments, a lift and preferably a private patio, which can offer e.g. hairdresser, podiatry, restaurant, senior center with activities and the opportunity to meet other “dry shoes”.
– Can you risk the home falling in value if you let it fall into disrepair for 20 years?
– It can, but when it comes to housing and real estate, it is location that trumps everything. If it is in a good area, the home will not necessarily lose so much in value, because the plot has in any case risen significantly during the same time. We experience that the developers then quickly get on the field, they mostly want to demolish the house and build more homes, Borgen answers.
Charge for relatives
The fact that the elderly stay too long in some cases can be a burden for relatives.
– When you get older, you often become more anxious to let strangers in. This can result in cleaning and maintenance not being taken care of because the responsibility falls on the children, who are often in a very active phase with busy weekdays, says Borgen.
– Another aspect is that the family worries about how it will go if the elderly have an accident in the home. “What happens if mom or dad falls now and is alone in the big house” – that thought is not so easy to let go. Not even if they feel lonely and scared.
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Borgen says that when selling an estate, they experience that it can be a very extensive work that must be put down, before the house is ready to be put up for sale.
– Large houses that have not been cleaned in the last 40-50 years, contain many memories that must be handled in an already difficult situation. The longest I have experienced was that it took over a year to get the house ready for sale.