Tuesday 24 October 2017

'We are mad as hell at talk of us downsizing' - retired couple hits out at suggestion they should sell their home

Robert Hastings at his home in south Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Robert Hastings at his home in south Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

A retired couple has hit out at the suggestion they should sell their home and move somewhere else to allow it to be bought by a young family.

Robert and Catriona Hastings, who live in south Dublin, say they are "mad as hell" at suggestions by the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) that they should downsize.

Mr Hastings (65) is angry with economists in universities, the ESRI and others in private industry who are advancing the idea that older people should move to smaller homes.

A member of Age Action, Mr Hastings bristles at the description of him and his wife as "empty nesters".

Like a lot of older people, he detests the phrase.

"This empty-nester phrase drives me cracked. Empty nesters, do they actually exist?

"There are very few of them, with the only ones in that category people whose children have emigrated."

He and his wife, a retired teacher, live in a four-bedroom house.

But their son lives with them and their daughter stays over regularly.

"It is a four-bed house but three of the four rooms are in operation all the time."

Originally from Limerick, Mr Hastings worked in the public service before training as a barrister in his 30s. He was in work for 42 years.

He is unhappy that at the age of 65 he does not qualify for the State pension until next year after recent changes.

This means he will miss a year of a payment he has paid for through PRSI (pay related social insurance).

"How long is long enough to be in one property? As long as you wish, in my view," he said.

The notion that older people should downsize does not even make economic sense - as it would mean older people would be competing with first-time buyers for starter-type homes, he added.

"We have always lived prudentially, never got involved in any property plays, etc.

"We are the generation which had to grovel to get a mortgage in the first place - I recall a 25pc deposit - and paid interest rates in excess of 15 to 16pc.

"So in the words film 'Network', 'I'm mad as hell and not going to take it any more'. I suspect I am not alone."

Irish Independent

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