Entering retirement is an exciting time in anyone’s life. Yet there can be a lot of uncertainty and indecision as well, especially when it comes to figuring out your living arrangements. Here’s a short guide on how to make up your mind when it comes to making the big decision.
While retiring means freedom and relaxation, your retirement also needs to be affordable. There are many financial concerns to consider. The more care you need (or feel you need), the more expensive retirement can become, and this could end up being a real strain on your finances, especially since you’re no longer earning a regular paycheck. In cases like this, it’s important to crunch the numbers. Turning to a financial planner is one highly recommended option, especially if you need extra help determining how to plan for the future. Either way, choosing a place to live during your retirement will take careful consideration so you can afford your new lifestyle.
When you are evaluating your financial future, don’t forget to include as-yet-unincurred expenses, such as hiring movers, potential renovations needed to your future home, repairs made to your current home to ensure it is in sellable condition, and paying off any outstanding debts you might still owe.
There’s nothing new about living out your retirement years in the comfort of your own home. Seniors have been doing it for time immemorial — it’s called aging in place, and it’s a viable option for many retirees. That being said, not every home will be ideal for aging in place. In fact, unless your home has the following features, you might have difficulties down the road:
- A single-story home
- A main entrance with no or few steps
- A property with little to no maintenance or upkeep
- A location close to important amenities like doctor’s offices
- A support system of friends or family members who live nearby
Keep these issues in mind if you’re set on living at home for as long as possible. As touched on earlier, you can also look to modifications to boost the safety of your home. These can include adding grab bars in the bathroom, a curbless shower, illuminating hallways, widening doorways and switching from knob to lever handles.
Downsizing for Fun and Profit
If your current home isn’t going to cut it for the long haul, another option you have is to find a smaller, more manageable place to live. Downsizing to a home that has all the attributes you need to live comfortably in a smaller, more affordable package can be a real lifesaver, especially if you have equity built up in your existing home that you can tap into.
Downsizing lets you choose a neighborhood that’s best for you, such as farther south to avoid cold weather in the winter or perhaps it lets you move closer to family, allowing you the pleasure of seeing your children or grandchildren. Or it could preserve your retirement income if you sell your existing home and use the proceeds to purchase one that leaves you with surplus cash.
Ideally, when you begin to search for a new home, you want to have a clear picture of what you can expect to get from the sale of your current home. If you’ve already paid off your mortgage, you should have enough to purchase a smaller home with some leftovers. This can help you better determine the right price range for your buying journey. A realtor experienced with senior downsizing can be a great resource as you move toward this transition.
Community Is Key
Some seniors decide their best option is to move to a retirement community. There are a number of different types; an independent living community, for example, is scarcely different than an apartment complex, or gated community of semi-detached homes. The only notable difference is that there is usually an age restriction, which typically requires residents to be aged 55 or older.
If you have specific medical needs, a more appropriate choice might be an assisted living community where you have access to round-the-clock medical care when you need it. These types of retirement communities may feature less independence as a result, but it’s a small price to pay for knowing your medical needs are being met. Some of these communities even offer continuity of care, which means that you don’t have to worry about changing physical needs over time, as the community will match them as you age.
Of course, you don’t have to move to a traditional retirement community if you don’t want to. Many retirees choose to invest in an RV so they can spend retirement traveling the country, seeing the sites and stopping to rest for the night at any number of senior-friendly RV parks strewn about the country.
In the end, nobody can tell you what the best living arrangements are going to be. Think through your personal circumstances and preferences. Your retirement should be all you dreamed of, including a safe and comfortable home.