If home healthcare is part of your retirement plan, you need to make sure you find the right home for your early retirement and elderly years. Downsizing is one of the biggest and one of the most common steps that seniors take as part of their retirement plan. As such, we wanted to offer our top 5 insights into what empty-nesters and retirees should consider when downsizing their home.
- Sizing: Don’t overlook the obvious. This is a trickier calculation to get right than you might suppose. Are you looking for a home that’s a little smaller or a lot smaller? Maybe it’s not the square footage, but how that square footage is used. Are you looking for a home fewer bedrooms/baths but a more open and spacious home plan? Not sure where to begin? Start by organizing and downsizing the belongings in your current home. There are other considerations as we’ll get to in a moment, but generally speaking, if you get rid of 1/3 of your belongings, you might start looking at homes that are roughly 1/3 smaller.
- Location, Location, Location: Yes, good schools matter to a home’s value, but that works both ways if you can get the home for a great price as a buyer. So, while the entire profile of the neighborhood and street location must be taken into consideration, different types of amenities and services are likely to be a priority for seniors. Rural or urban living can be right at any age. Nevertheless, the most popular locations combine a quiet, neighborhood street with low-density housing to ensure the neighbors’ noise isn’t an issue, but still close enough to basic services and amenities which help seniors stay connected to the community and their peers. For the same reason, older city folk should also consider proximity to public transit.
- Floor Plan and Accessibility: A ranch-style home is the go-to for the vast majority of seniors. In contrast, a metal and narrowly winding spiral staircase is probably a deal-breaker. However, if you’re in love with the rest of the home and its location, stand to get it for a good price, and have a viable plan to renovate the staircase into, say, a home elevator, then this is might be the answer, after all. An alternate solution we sometimes recommend? Consider whether the second-floor of the home can be used or converted into a rental—either for supplemental income, family visits, and/or for a caregiver. Think of it this way: Don’t dismiss the benefits and functionality of a ranch-style home, but be open to capturing this functionality no matter the housing style.
- Ownership, Upkeep, HOA Costs: Especially for those who are planning or already on a fixed income, this is important to analyze both for this year and next. Based on property taxes, maintenance and repair costs, what are your future costs likely to be? Cleaning, maintenance, and repair isn’t just about the money but also the time and headaches involved to diagnose problems and to find handyman/contractors you can trust.
- New Construction: If you’re looking for something in particular or if you’re just particular about every last detail of your next home, new construction is likely the way to go. New home communities can provide reasonable resale value on new home builds. Custom home builds open up a wider range of possibilities for what your next home can be. Either way, new homes designed with durable, easy-to-clean interiors offer superior maintenance and time savings for the senior homeowner.