Your working days are over, you’ve got a comfortable nest egg, and you’re ready to sell your family home and move into a cozier abode so you can relax and enjoy your retirement. But do you know what you want out of your post-retirement home? Most seniors want to settle into a home they can stay in for the long haul, but few understand how to find a home that will remain livable as their needs evolve. Here are a few things to consider when you’re shopping for your forever home.
If you’re shopping for a new home at 55, you’re probably not concerned about stairs or wide hallways just yet. However, it’s important to consider how your accessibility needs may change as you age. To ensure that you can maintain your independence throughout your life, look for a house or condo that integrates accessible living with good design.
One of the most important features is single-floor living. While you don’t need to restrict yourself to single-story homes, you should consider the fact that a temporary disability could leave you restricted to the main floor for an extended period. You should also look for features like stepless entrances, curbless showers, and zero-clearance thresholds. Regardless of whether you ever use a wheelchair or walker, features like these can reduce the risk of an accidental fall.
Even if you’re the rare person who enjoys yard work, there’s a good chance you won’t find it so pleasurable when you’re 80. For stress-free retirement living, skip the big backyard and instead look for housing with maintenance-free green space. This may mean a home that borders a park, a condo complex with landscaped grounds, or a rental where your landlord handles the lawn.
It’s a good idea to pare down your indoor square footage, too. Keeping up with housework becomes increasingly challenging as you age, and you don’t want to spend your retirement worrying about chores.
Access to Amenities
If you’ve lived in the same town for years, you probably have strong social and community ties that you’d like to maintain during your later life. And not without good reason — after all, social support is one of the biggest indicators of good health as you age. However, at some point you won’t be able to get around as easily, and you may even have to stop driving. When that happens, will you still be able to get to your church, library, or other community hub?
When you’re searching for a new home, consider skipping the suburbs and instead look for a home centrally located near shopping, restaurants, and public transportation. But don’t sacrifice security for convenience. Instead, find a neighborhood that balances safety with walkability so you can stay socially and physically active throughout retirement.
For seniors seeking a new destination to retire to, choosing a locale with retiree-friendly tax policies is a great way to free up more cash for leisure pursuits. Some states don’t tax certain sources of retirement income while others, like Florida, Washington, and South Dakota, skip the personal income taxes entirely. However, there are other taxes to consider. High property taxes can quickly eliminate what you save on income taxes, so be sure to factor in any prospective destination’s overall tax burden and cost of living.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re looking for a home that you can live in comfortably for the next 20 or 30 years, but there are realtors that specialize in helping seniors find a home that meets all their needs, both current and future. For help navigating the real estate market and finding the perfect home for your senior years, consult with a realtor who is trained as a Senior Real Estate Specialist or Certified Senior Housing Professional.
Article by Jim Vogel
Image via Unsplash by Scott Webb
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