Your kids have grown and live away from home.
Your retirement from work is a year away.
You become giddy as you think about where you want to live during retirement.
Where to live during retirement depends on how you envision your retirement lifestyle. Some people view their retirement home as their final home … before having to move to a nursing home. Others view their retirement home in stages – to allow time for gradual downsizing. A couple may buy a home for their active retirement years and then move to a smaller home when they become less active. What factors should you consider when buying your retirement home? Here are four things I ask my clients to consider:
Where you live depends on the lifestyle you envision during retirement. Do you want to live near a college in order to attain another degree? Do you want to live where you can walk to restaurants and parks? Do you want to live near a golf course? Do you want to be near your grandkids (and if you don’t have grandkids yet do you want the flexibility to move)? Do you want to be closer to healthcare facilities?
While retirees dream of retiring somewhere warmer, doing so may not really work out (grass is always greener on the other side). Some retirees find heat and humidity in warmer locations difficult, especially during summer months. Others miss the change of seasons (and love bug season in Florida doesn’t count). And most become frustrated during tourist season. When making a major move, test it out by renting a second home in your target location before you retire.
Many retirees know they should downsize but actually doing so can be challenging. Figuring out which furniture to keep and which ones to donate is time consuming. Also, going through closets filled with stuff can be overwhelming and emotional. Before downsizing think about how you will use your home. Will you be traveling more and need a lock-and-leave type of home? Do you want your home to be the gathering location for entertaining friends and family? Do you enjoy yardwork or do you want no outdoor chores? Do you need a mother-in-law suite for aging parents or in-home care as you begin to age? Once you understand how you will use your home, then figuring out the size becomes easier.
Realistically, how much can you spend on all home expenses during your retirement years? Begin by listing regular home expenses, including mortgage, home insurance (unless you escrow), real estate taxes (unless you escrow), home equity line of credit, homeowners’ association fees, utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer, phone, internet, cable, security), yard maintenance, pool maintenance, etc. From this list, calculate how much you spend annually on home expenses.
Next, list known upcoming repairs and maintenance, including cost and time for replacement: exterior paint, hot water heater, HVAC, furnace, roof, kitchen appliances, carpet replacement, home furnishings (mattresses, furniture, rugs, window treatments, etc.). You’ve just created your property maintenance schedule. You now know how much you need to save in order to pay for upcoming repairs and maintenance.
Finally, calculate how much you will need to spend on improvements as your mobility declines (e.g., chair lifts for stairs, wider doorways, walk-in tub)? Add this amount to your list of known upcoming repairs and maintenance. After totaling all expenses, can you afford to spend this amount during retirement? If no, consider downsizing. If you can afford it, do you want to spend your money on a large home or would you prefer spending your money on travel and entertainment.
It’s easy to dream about selling and buying a retirement home. But when you start going through the process it can become quite a journey – especially if you and your spouse have different perspectives. Consider your proximity, climate, size and affordability when deciding on your home for your next phase of life – however you define your retirement lifestyle.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter and financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”