Isn’t it amazing that at some point to get to that age where you need to start planning your retirement in earnest?  Well, I think that day has approached for us, because we decided to make a longer term investment, whilst planning for our future, and this is it:
We are in the process of buying a 3-bedroom terraced house close to Sale town centre (Manchester).  The plan is that we will eventually retire in South Africa, but would still want to keep a property in the UK, but not necessarily keep the house we live in now.  If we ever wanted to come back, it needed to be a place we would be happy to live.
Also, we wanted to have a house which is easy to manage, close to where we currently live (about  3-4 miles away), and which could be used if any of our family ever wanted, or needed to come to the UK for any length of time.  But immediately, we will be treating the house as an investment, and we hope to rent it out.

Let me do a quick sales pitch on the house:  it has 2 double bedrooms, a single bedroom and bathroom upstairs.  Downstairs it has a beautifully, light living dinining area which overlooks the garden.  The kitchen is modern and was very well planned.  And it has the added bonus of having a downstairs toilet and nice roomy cloak cupboard.
The extra touches I love about it are:  it is eco-friendly and very energy efficient.  It has solar-powered heating, it comes standard with a water butt for the garden, it has private parking (you can drive into the garden) and a big secure shed.  Also, it is 5 minutes walk from town centre.  You can either walk through the park (a block away) or walk along the canal, which is at the end of the road.  The tram is probably 10 minutes walk away, and the main route bus stops are at the other end of the road from the canal.  So all in all, very convenient.
If anyone is aware of someone (responsible) who is looking to rent a brand new house, please pass their details onto me.  We expect it will be ready early in September.