Now what? This is what thousands of couples are asking themselves as they cross the threshold of retirement and enter a new phase of life that involves change. One of them is to spend more time with your spouse, someone who, now and after decades of living together, has become a stranger. Consequence: Divorces and separations between people over 65 have increased in recent years, and it is not only a life adventure, but also a residential one.
It is time to think about where the two members of the former partner will live and what to do with the family home. Go ahead that there is no single solution and that, like almost everything in life, it depends on your economic situation and accumulated wealth. In the past, separation in old age caused mistrust and rejection. But things have (somewhat) changed. This is not the age group that divorces the most, but it is one of the fastest growing. In 2020, the latest year according to INE, 7,592 people between the ages of 60 and 69 divorced. And 2075 is over 70 years old. In total, 9667 elderly citizens have acquired the status of a bachelor. That’s not counting layoffs: 771 in 2020. But it was an atypical year due to covid. In 2019, people over 60 were involved in 11,720 divorces and 1,002 divorces.
Sociologist Mariano Urraco, professor at the Distance University of Madrid, explains how and why these transcendental decisions are made late in life: “People used to live only one life, but now they live several. People are making a lot more decisions about their lives, they’ve got more freedom, more wiggle room, and it’s more visible on a social level that people at age 65 are getting divorced; it used to be like a brand.”
Long life expectancy and active retirement have a lot to do with this idea of not giving up and not being cornered. Urraco explains that previous generations of older adults didn’t even have a real opportunity to think about change. “The current ones have a certain economic independence; We are talking about the generations that survived the period of the greatest labor boom in the country, that is where the money is.”
From this moment begins a new episode: the search for a new home. The main determining factor is the economic relief that the ex-partner has. “People who have purchased a house while living together are more likely to buy it again than rent it out if their economy allows it,” according to Jesús Duque, vice president of Alfa Inmobiliaria. It is important that the home was purchased during the marriage and that the couple marry under joint ownership.
It is not uncommon to have a second residence in addition to the main house. “Usually they put both properties up for sale so that they can then distribute the proceeds. These profiles are usually repurchased,” Duque adds. And what they’re buying is “smaller, lower-end homes and usually without mortgages,” says Jorge Queipo, broker at Re/Max Properties. Although whether or not to request funding will depend on the age and the amount requested (financial institutions set the maximum age for a mortgage loan at 75). They also often change location and choose a more accessible one. “The price at which they buy is usually 40% of the proceeds from the sale of their common home,” Queipo says.
He thoroughly knows all sides of the coin.
If the former spouses have a leaner economy and their assets are not floating, the situation is more delicate. In this case, the solution is to sell the family home and then double the rent. Although this will depend on the city, because in capitals such as Madrid, Barcelona or Palma, this can be almost impossible. So you choose to search for an apartment to share with people who are in the same situation. On portals like Milanuncios, they are easy to find.
In other cases, they have no choice but to move into a relative’s home or resort to hostels or council housing for the elderly, to which they contribute a percentage of the income they receive. Without forgetting something important: “Many couples don’t break up because they can’t economically live independently,” Duque recalls. If one of the members has no income and is not protected, they are usually credited with using the family home. “It could be temporary or permanent, depending on whether there is a significant economic imbalance between them and their age after the divorce, among other factors. This can be agreed in the divorce agreement itself if it is by mutual consent, or in a court decision if the divorce is not amicable,” says Fatima Galisteo, head of the law firm Galisteo Abogados.
An alternative that is becoming more and more popular in Spain is the cohabitation of the elderly. There are dozens of projects under development, development or planning throughout the country. Pedro Ponce, 71, is president of Senior Cohousing Huelva, a cooperative life offering in Huelva’s urban area for people aged 44 to 70 who are looking for a solution to active aging. . Living in a community is the perfect cure for the loneliness that plagues the elderly, whether they are divorced or widowed. Because, as Ponce says, “empty nest syndrome is torment.”
The project, which consists of 44 houses and works on the principle of transfer of the right of use, was born at the suggestion of a group of people, still unknown, who formed a cooperative to promote the residential complex and social, cultural and medical institutions. profit and self-management. The project, which is expected to be ready by the end of 2023, has already received an investment of four million euros.
Cohousing Trabensol, located in Torremocha de Jarama (Madrid), has been operating for nine years. This is the second program implemented in Spain and has already proved that it is fulfilling its mission. “The basic principle is solidarity and mutual assistance,” explains 84-year-old Jaime Moreno, one of the founders of the cooperative. Its 54 members (about 80 people) paid a total of 145,000 euros, and now they pay between 1,200 and 1,400 euros per month to cover all kinds of expenses: food, cooking, therapeutic baths, concierge, cleaning, supplies. .. If a member dies, the investment is returned to the heirs (without monthly expenses). He is also reinstated if he leaves.
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