I Have Decided to Move From My Home: What are My Choices? by Bob Lowry
There comes a time when most of us have to ask ourselves this question. No matter how much we love where we live, or how many memories lurk in each room, eventually safety must win out. Aging in place has its limits.
When the hallways and doors are too narrow for a wheelchair or walker, when the stairs make using the second floor difficult, or when kitchen cabinets are too high to reach, we know we should move. When in-home care is not available or too expensive we know we should move.
Our options are determined by several factors: activity level, finances, preferences, closeness of family or relatives, and the availability of more intensive care at some point in the future. For this post, I am assuming that your decision to move is not due to a serious medical problem, but more out of convenience, safety. and planning for your future. In no particular order, let's look at what we may consider:
1) Downsizing: This is an obvious choice. The house that was the perfect size for raising a family is now too big. The home that seemed to be just right for you, your craft room, and vegetable garden out back means too much cleaning and work. How much to downsize is a personal choice. For some, that might mean just thinning out possessions under the theory that the less stuff one owns the less there is to clean, dust, and store. For others, a reduction in physical size makes the most sense. After all, do you still need three bedrooms, a den, a formal dining room, and a living room?
Actually, I know of at least one blog reader who upsized after retiring. Housing was less expensive in their new location, plus he and his wife wanted extra space to indulge in their passions and interests.
2) Change in housing type: Often this happens as a result of downsizing. Instead of a single family home in the suburbs, a smaller condo makes sense. Most of the maintenance is handled by someone else. A townhome near an urban center seems to beckon with its restaurants, museums, clubs, and shopping. Tiny houses call some, while full time RVing is best for others.
3) Ownership versus renting: Most of us were raised with the belief that owning a house was the ultimate mark of being a grownup. A mortgage came with adulthood. Well, as we age that may not be the best choice. Instead of tying up hundreds of thousands of dollars in something as illiquid as a house sitting on a plot of land, paying a monthly rent suddenly makes sense. Property taxes are no longer your concern. Maintenance? Not your problem. Changes in the tax law may mean a mortgage deduction isn't helpful. Tired of living where you do? Give 30 days notice and move somewhere else.
4) Cohousing or sharing home with another senior: There is an important difference between these two options. Cohousing communities are a group of maybe 10-20 housing units (homes or townhomes) built around a common area. Most cohousing setups encourage generational mixing: young families, those with older children, and empty nesters live in the homes. The idea is to avoid the age separation that happens in 55+ communities.
Sharing a home with another senior or two is like the roommate relationship you might have experienced in college. Two or more compatible people live in the same dwelling, sharing experiences, chores, and cooking. This could involve either a private home, or an apartment.
5) Living with relatives: Multi-generational living is more common in other countries and cultures, but America is catching up. Whether in a separate "grandmother" cottage, as a suite with its own bathroom, or simply a bedroom in the home, having mom, dad, or uncle Ed sharing space with family is not all that unusual anymore. Of course, such an arrangement comes with all sorts of consequences and complications that must be worked out ahead of time.
6) Residential care homes: Think a very small 55+ community. Often, a residential care home looks like a private dwelling on any street in any town in America. Instead of one family, a RCH has a handful of seniors, each living in a private room, but sharing common spaces with others. Usually some limited form of housekeeping, meal service, and care are part of the deal.
7) CCRC: This is a community of 55+ individuals with the full range of housing choices: individual living, assisted living, and nursing care facilities on site. I've written about this choice several times before so I won't list all the pros and cons. But, a CCRC is a favorite choice of many of us when it is time to move.
OK, your turn. Which of these options is likely to be somewhere in your future? Or, do you have another choice I missed?
By Bob Lowry