When the time comes for you to retire, what would you like your home to have? Just assuming for a moment that money is not an issue... Come on, what's running through your mind? A quick survey of the Realhomes.com team shows that we're leaning quite heavily towards Richard Branson's Necker Island, only transplanted to somewhere just outside London (the commute would be hellish otherwise).
But perhaps our ambition doesn't surprise you. Maybe you're thinking along the same lines: a home, after we've retired, devoted to relaxation, sunlight and hedonism (we're not sure that's what Mr Branson does there, but we know that's what we'd do there).
And, in this case, it won't surprise you that, when asked this question, 1,001 homeowners over the age of 55, for whom retirement is something they might start to be thinking about, opted overwhelmingly for something quite similar. We say 'similar'; an eco-home with an indoor swimming pool topped the wishlist for both female and male respondents, although women were slightly more keen on the pool than the men. Conservatories came third: the traditional home feature connecting the house to the garden (soaking up the sunlight, out of the reach of the rain) remains steadily popular.
Beyond the third spot, some (fairly predictable?) gender differences emerge. Women would like balconies, al fresco areas, Jacuzzis, and playgrounds for the grandkids. Men, on the other hand, want high tech security systems, cinema rooms, and wine cellars, none of which make it to the top 10 of women's dream home features. Interestingly, both genders cite saunas in their top 10 lists (in seventh spot for men, and eighth for women).
It is the strong preference for eco-friendly homes that is most intriguing, however, thwarting the common presumption that only younger people care about the impact of their lifestyles on the environment.
The survey was conducted by finance experts SunLife, who believe that some of these home improvements (not the Necker Island part) are well within reach of many people in retirement, given the substantial increase in property values over the last several decades. Simon Stanney, equity release director, explains, 'Our research has revealed that on average, people over 55 have seen their homes increase in value by around £135k, but 62 per cent don’t want to move.'
So, don't think 'what could I leave the kids when I go', think where should I install the Jacuzzi.