Rocketing house prices over the last 15 years have resulted in many UK retirees living in increasingly valuable assets, which have grown almost twice as fast as the average pensioner's income according to research from the Equity Release Council.

Its analysis of Land Registry and Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reveals that average house prices in England & Wales have grown by a staggering 91% since 1997, from £120,211 to £229,610.

Indeed home equity continues to represent one of the biggest assets for many retirees, playing an important role when savings come up short. Some already retired or approaching their golden years feel they have little choice but to tap into the equity they've built up in their homes to support their future cash flow needs.

"Many retirees find that their children have flown the nest and they are ready to downsize to a smaller home such as the properties here at Le Village - Canal du Midi. Releasing the equity in their homes is the perfect way to do this and through our dedicated network of sales agents in the UK they can sell their existing property, buy a new home here in Languedoc and have equity left over to not only survive but thrive in retirement," Mr. Danny Silver, founder and managing partner of The Villages Group, active living resorts for 50s+ in France notes.

Downsizing presents the cheapest and most transparent option available for those entering retirement. Property is often an adult's biggest and most secure financial asset, generating a far greater return on their original investment.

This is especially true for those who have remained in the same home for a good number of years, during which the property market has boomed, meaning they have accumulated a large amount of equity in their property.

 But what and where to downsize to? Traditionally retirees have remained in the local area, near friends and family but now with advances in communications technology and indeed transportation, more and more are looking to move abroad.

Mr. Silver, a British resident who now lives in France could attest that relocating for retirement is a life affirming experience in all its aspects.

"Relocating in retirement can be a rejuvenating and life-affirming experience, especially when you can save money, meet new people and visit new places. Le Village Canal du Midi nestled in the heart of the Languedoc is begging you to take a walk or hire a bicycle and admire the natural beauty of the Canal waterways and surrounding countryside. Rowing, canoeing, fishing or even cruising on luxury hotel barges are also popular pastimes in this picturesque region famous for its sumptuous gastronomic delights. Maybe it's time to say bonjour to a new and exciting life of retirement in France!"

The Villages GroProperty ownership during retirement: Downsize to maximise your pensionup, which Mr. Silver has co-founded and manages, provides a lifestyle that is most attractive to active 50+s who want to live their lives to the full in one of the top ten expat countries in the world that affords a relaxed pace of life, stunning natural landscapes and low living costs.

 House prices at Le Village-Canal du Midi start from around £200,000, which includes all closing costs and the first year's management fee and taxes; weekly maintenance costs are only £30 per week including all activities.