When it’s time to say goodbye to the family home

When it’s time to say goodbye to the family home

Leaving the house where you raised your children can be a wrench, but you can turn it into a positive, says Zelda West-Meads, Agony Aunt for You in the Mail on Sunday

Leaving the house where you raised your children can be a wrench, but you can turn it into a positive, says Zelda West-Meads, Agony Aunt for You in the Mail on Sunday

It is well known that moving house is one of the most stressful events in life – only behind death and divorce in terms of the emotional toll it takes. But of course the outcome will be a new and exciting chapter in your life.

It can be difficult if you are leaving the family home after many years – a house where you have so many happy memories; watching your children grow up and change from cute toddlers into messy teenagers (and eventually – hopefully – delightful adults), children’s parties, family Christmases, having friends round for supper or barbecues, maybe even a marquee in the garden for a son or daughter’s wedding.

It is also often difficult for the adult children in the family as they may have some lovely memories of growing up there and associate the house with their childhood.

Many ‘children’ are now staying at home well into their twenties and still have their own rooms, or they are part of the ‘yo-yo’ generation as they often leave home and return several times.

Time to move on?

As you get older, however, you may feel that a big house is getting too much for you. Or, as so many children in this day and age are going to find it very difficult to buy houses in the current market, many people in their late fifties or early sixties are now making the decision to sell up and move to somewhere smaller in order to help their children buy a home of their own.

As with all change, though daunting, it also marks a fresh start and sometimes an opportunity.


If you are downsizing in order to help your children with a deposit, it can be exciting to see them becoming independent and confident in their new life.

It’s important to acknowledge that there is a sense of loss that a stage of your life has passed, but you can balance that by knowing that you are doing the best for your children. (Though it’s important not to be pressured into this – it has to be the right decision for everyone.)

As a couple, it can be a new start for you too – perhaps moving somewhere smaller but to an area you have always loved, hopefully still near to family and friends. And it might mean having the place to yourselves at last, rather than running some sort of free hotel for children who are really too old to live at home.

You can enjoy exploring your new area, cosy pubs or restaurants, lovely walks, or a pretty park or stretch of river nearby for instance.

When you have to move on

Of course, moving house is sometimes made necessary due to a major life change.

If you’re going through a divorce, for example, it can seem devastating (on top of the sadness of your personal circumstances) to have to move home, but when the shock and the pain have lessened, people often start to enjoy their newfound freedom.

It’s encouraging and perhaps surprising how many letters I get from men and women embarking on life after their divorce saying that they are happier being single and having their own new home. They can decorate it how they like and not have to put up with anyone else’s habits.

If the children are still teenagers living at home, it’s important that they have stability and, if possible, that they have bedrooms at both their parents’ new houses and are made to feel equally welcome at both.

When a partner dies, some people are reluctant to move because they feel it’s another goodbye. This is perhaps the hardest move of all but hopefully they will have family and friends to support them if it becomes necessary. Sometimes it can actually be easier to be in a new house and not constantly being reminded of a loved one.

It’s important to give a great deal of thought to the location so that if you are in this position, you can still see as much of family and friends as possible.

Taking your next big step

You don’t have to downplay what a big step leaving the family home is. But so long as you acknowledge this and embrace the new situation as much as possible, you can learn to enjoy a new phase of life.

On the practical side, booking into a hotel for a night or two on the day you take possession of your new home can really help. That way you can get new curtains up, organise furniture, clean the bathrooms and fill the fridge – so that when you do spend your first night in your new home, it is relaxing and feels ready for you.

Then you can start making new happy memories and enjoy this new beginning.

Were you sad to leave your family home but feel happier now in your new place? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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Not for me

babyhk 10/09/2017

Downsizing ..no thanks ! My grand children now stay and it is a base for my 5 sons to stay too even though 4 have now left home .I love a cleaner and neater home .This place will be shared between them in our will and is in an area where property is rocketing .Why sell your biggest asset ? It would be cheaper to hire a gardener than to pay communal charges for a flat that has others who may not share my quirky views . We are staying put.

Family home

Julie 22/06/2017

When your childten have tjeir own homrs and you want to downsize

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