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Six Things to Consider When Buying Your Penultimate Retirement Home

How many times have you heard someone wistfully saying that when they retire, they’re going to build a home out in the country, get a home in the city, move near the kids, or some other dream that doesn’t involve the phrase “stay right here?” It’s a pattern for a lot of families. They start with the starter home as a young couple. Then, they have kids and need a bigger place, and they move to a larger home (Related: Should You Buy LESS House Than You Need?). When the kids move out…for the last time…then the couple reexamines the house that they have and thinks about moving again.


If you’re in that situation, and thinking about the last place you want to live before you move to the retirement home, or if this is the place where you want to live the rest of your days, here are some things that you should consider before signing the contract:

  • How accessible will it be as you lose mobility? Having the upstairs porch may seem like a great idea to allow you to watch the sunset as you drink a glass of wine, but will you be able to climb up there as you age? You may want to consider a single-story ranch instead.
  • How much maintenance will it need? My grandmother cut her own yard until she was in her seventies. I’m sure that it gave her a sense of independence and well-being and probably reinforced her health. At some point, though, the yard became a burden instead of a joy. You may want to consider a community where exterior maintenance is taken care of.
  • How much size do you really need? Many people buy houses with extra bedrooms to house guests when they come. If you have grandchildren, then you’ll probably want an extra bedroom (or two), but if you don’t, then consider getting a one or a two-bedroom place. Extra space means extra cleaning, extra furniture, extra utilities, and extra things to go wrong.
  • How much stuff do you actually need? If you’re keeping heirlooms for the children, then give it to the children. Better yet, have a frank discussion with them about the heirlooms that you’re planning on them having. Do they actually want the heirlooms? Better to find out now than to waste money on storage space to keep things that won’t get kept in the next generation.
  • How close is the residence to key facilities? How far will you be from the hospital? The grocery store? The theater? A senior center? As you get older, you’ll be less and less inclined to take longer trips, and your definition of longer trips will get shorter and shorter. Make sure that the amenities you need to have a full, rich, and healthy life are nearby so that you’re not discouraged from utilizing them.
  • How close are you to potential caregivers? If you think that you may have to rely on your children to assist in caregiving one day, then you should be close to them. Remote caregiving is difficult, if not impossible, with conservatorships a struggle to execute. Reduce this burden in advance through geographic proximity.

Retirement living should be a joy. With thoughtful planning about where you will live, your home can also contribute to the joy of your retirement living, and you can avoid it turning into a burden as you age.

Kicking the kids out of the house and considering the next move? What are you thinking? Tell us what you’re planning in the comments below!

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John Davis
John Davis is a nationally recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books about his expertise in the field and has been featured extensively in numerous media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News, CNBC, Fox Business, and many more. With over 20 years of experience helping consumers understand their credit and identity protection rights, John is passionate about empowering people to take control of their finances. He works with financial institutions to develop consumer-friendly policies that promote financial literacy and responsible borrowing habits.

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