Do you want to age in your current home, downsize to a smaller home or apartment, move to a senior community or move in with family? According to Sheri Samotin, author of Facing the Finish, most seniors wish to live independently for as long as possible in their own home. Unfortunately, this is not always possible given one’s health, finances, and family situation. All of these factors must be considered when you are deciding where you should live.
First, you must consider your health. Will your home be safe and comfortable as you age? Look at your current home. Are there stairs to get to your bedroom? Is there a bathroom on the first floor? Can a bathroom accommodate a wheelchair? Can you make modifications to your home? Do you have a support system if/when it is not safe for you to drive?
Second, look at your finances. Your financial resources will determine your housing options. Do you have the resources to pay your living expenses? Are you still paying a mortgage or home equity loan? Do you have a long-term care policy? Do you have financial resources to fund future care needs?
Finally, take into account your family situation. Do you wish to move closer to or share a home with one of your adult children?
Once you have considered your health, finances, and family, it is time to decide where you want to live.
The first option is to stay in your home (age in place). This is where you are most comfortable and you will avoid the stress of moving. However, maintaining your home is one of your largest retirement expenses. If you decide that you want to stay in your home, there are ways to help finance these housing costs and possible future in-home care expenses. Consider obtaining a home equity loan, refinancing your current mortgage at a lower rate, selling the house to one of your children and renting it back from them, or acquiring a reverse mortgage (a loan, with certain requirements, against the equity in your house).
If staying in your current home does not make sense, consider downsizing to a smaller home or renting an apartment. Downsizing from a larger to smaller home will reduce your utilities and property taxes. Keep in mind that maintenance costs will not disappear with ownership of a smaller home. If you decide to rent, monthly expenses will decrease and become more predictable, saving both money and stress.
Moving to a senior community may be the best option for you. There is not a one size fits all type of senior community, so it is important to tour each community to find the best fit. Independent living communities provide a maintenance-free lifestyle along with meals and activities. In addition to the services provided by independent living communities, assisted living communities also provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). If you require more medical care, a nursing home with onsite rehabilitation and memory care could be the most suitable choice. A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) provides residents with a continuum of care, with independent, assisted, and skilled care as needed.
A final option is to move in with family.
Now, choosing between all the options may seem overwhelming. However, remember that the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to consider your individual factors and housing options, especially when you are in good health. The question, “where should I live?” will no longer feel so daunting, but rather should give you peace of mind that you have a well-thought out plan.
Beth Carroll is a CPA and a Professional Daily Money Manager. Her company, Cornerstone Money Management, LLC, helps seniors in their homes with billpay, financial organization and cash flow management. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-323-4895.