As you age, your needs will change. So the house that was your dream home ten or twenty years ago might no longer serve you. And the temptation might be to cash in and move to a retirement community on the coast somewhere, or rent a two-bedroom apartment in the city, but before you make any rash decisions, think about what will serve you in the next ten or twenty years.
Financial Considerations When Buying a Home
You might still be working now but when you retire, you’ll be on a fixed income. And you don’t want to spend your golden years scrimping because you’re a slave to your mortgage payment or property taxes. So before you start looking at homes, you need to meet with a financial planner to determine a reasonable budget.
Location, Location, Location
For some people, the location of the home will be more important than the annual tax bill. You’ll have a lot of time on your hands and how you spend that time will be dictated by what and who is around you. So you want to be in close proximity to hobbies you love and people with whom you can engage in those hobbies. That means your close friends and family, as well as people who are similar to you politically and spiritually.
If you’re dead-set on a rural homestead, think about what will happen if your partner dies before you. With whom will you engage every day? If you have an accident, who will come to your aid?
Weather is also an important factor when considering where you’ll live in your elder years. Now, a blizzard or hurricane warning might be an inconvenience but not a real danger. But if you’re immobile (or mostly so), you might have a hard time getting out of harm’s way.
Cities tend to be better options for elderly people, as they have better access to public transportation and hospitals, as well as fitness, arts, and education centers. You just need to make sure to find an apartment or house that will work financially and physically later in life.
The House Itself
You might be physically fit right now and love to garden, but that might not always be the case. So as you consider a house for retirement, look for single-story structures or apartments accessible by elevator, as well as small, tidy yards and wide hallways and bathrooms. As uncomfortable as it might be to think about, you or your partner might require a wheelchair or walker later in life and you want your home to be able to accommodate that.
You also want to consider size. The larger the home and surrounding property, the more energy and money it will take to maintain. If you don’t have family nearby who can help you, you’ll have to hire staff and that could significantly eat into your retirement savings. It’s nice to have an extra bedroom or two for your children and grandchildren to visit, but you probably don’t need any more than that.
Another thing to consider is: what kind of care do you want when you reach the point when you can’t care for yourself? If you want to stay in your home and have a live-in caretaker, that person will need a room to sleep in. If you want to go to an assisted living facility, make sure your loved ones know your wishes. In either case, consider setting up a trust to ensure your wishes are carried out.
Retirement communities are great options for people who want to live in a safe environment surrounded by people their age, doing planned activities they love. If you plan to go into an assisted living facility when you need help caring for yourself, consider a community that offers independent living, assisted living and full-care options. That way you won’t have to move every time you need a new level of care.
Planning for retirement should be fun, but sometimes the details of getting old are less so. Make sure to communicate with your partner about each other’s wants and needs, and meet with a financial planner to ensure you’re being realistic about your options. You should spend your golden years doing the activities you love with the people you love, and the right home can help make that happen.