Empty Nester

How To Find The Best Retirement Home For You

The process of looking for a home in your golden years could be a bit different from when you were looking for a home to build a family in. Now, you can focus on what will make YOU happy. Your children have found homes of their own, and you’re now free to choose a new home to create new memories in.

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For retirees and senior citizens, location is no longer just about finding a nice house in a pretty neighborhood. It is more about being closer to your family, being just a stone’s throw away from important amenities, and finding a peaceful place where you can comfortably relax. It’s a personal choice that will depend on your lifestyle and what you want to prioritize the most as you age.

Here a list of things to keep in mind when looking for the perfect retirement home for you:

The house itself

The following items on this list focus on location -- but before we discuss those, it’s important to keep the obvious one out of the way. When buying a house to retire in, you should start with the basic questions about what type of house you’re looking for. Most retirees choose to downsize, but this entails the same questions: How many rooms? Bathrooms? One-storey or two-storey?

Remember that you’re buying a house that can serve you well as you age. This means that living in it must be convenient for you as you enter your golden years. With this in mind, choose a home with very minimal upkeep, and one that wouldn’t require you to climb up and down the stairs every time you need something from your room. Find an adequately-sized property that will make it easy for you to get from one part of the house to the other--but make sure that it’s still spacious enough for you to move around comfortably.

Proximity to family

To most retirees and empty nesters, family is still what matters most when choosing the location of a retirement home. If you want to be closer to your children and grandkids, choose a location where they can easily visit you, or one that is near the airport and other public transportation options so that it’ll be easy for you to visit them. Being able to spend time with family during the holidays becomes increasingly important as you age, and you wouldn’t want to miss any opportunity to see them more often.

However, pre-retirees must also think long and hard whether moving to a different city, or even to a different state, is really necessary. There is nothing wrong with looking for a new house within your hometown, especially if it allows you to stay close to friends and family, and near the places you most enjoy spending your time.

Weather and climate

If you’ve made your decision to retire in a place that is relatively far from your current residence, do consider whether you can easily adapt to certain lifestyle changes the move might entail.

A drastic change in weather and climate may take a toll on your health, so make sure that you’re moving to an area with a temperature you can enjoy and not just tolerate. Decide whether warmer areas suit you better than cooler ones, or if you’d rather find a house where the breeze is always cool.

Accessibility of important amenities

Making sure that you won’t have a hard time going to places you need to go to is the most important part of finding the right location for your retirement home.

Identify all the important facilities that you will need to visit on a regular basis, and make sure that these places wouldn’t take more than a 20-minute drive. If you take frequent trips to the doctor for check-ups and other medical appointments, ensure that the house you’re buying is near a hospital or clinic. If you like eating out at healthy places, find a house that is near organic or vegetarian restaurants.

Community

One can only truly enjoy a place if the existing community is a good match. To find a place you can truly enjoy, you’ll need to live amongst people you can see yourself interacting with. Check if there are recreational activities you can join nearby and meet like-minded individuals, or see if the Home Owners’ Association (HOA) conducts gatherings or recreational activities you may be interested in. If you’re looking to join exercise classes or educational courses for retirees, you can ask your agent to point you towards the direction of the perfect community where this is possible.

A 3-Step Decluttering Guide For Empty Nesters Looking To Downsize

Before even planning to move to a more size appropriate home, serious decluttering should be your utmost priority.

Deciding which items to give up is a time-intensive process because of everything you want to keep - be it for sentimental reasons, or the belief that you’ll still be able to use them someday. It may take weeks of discussion before you and your spouse agree on keeping an old coffee table or donating some of your favorite kitchen appliances - so it's best to start early.

Remember that you don't need to declutter your entire home all in one day. Start with the easiest room to declutter, and work your way through your house carefully. Here's a simplified guide on how to tackle this seemingly daunting task.

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When decluttering, it’s best to keep your process simple: Label everything with Discard, Donate, or Sell. Everything that doesn't fall into these categories are the items worth keeping.

1. Discard the things that can no longer serve their purpose to anyone.

Most empty nesters find it hard to dispose of things that have been in the family home for a long time, even if they no longer serve their function and simply just take up space in a room. However, this will not serve you when you downsize, since you’ll be needing to use up space wisely.

2. Donate the things that you no longer use but can still be used by people who need them more.

Rummage through your things for spare clothes, kitchen supplies, and other usable items that no longer get used in your home. As a general rule, if you haven't used an item for more than a year, it's probably not important to you anymore. If you’re not comfortable selling them, give them away to friends or to relatives who may need them more.

3. Sell the things that you can’t just throw or give away.

Some of your stuff is just too expensive to give away, but keep in mind that not all of your antique furniture and large appliances may fit in your new home. Reassess the value of these items, or have an expert do it for you. Once you all agree on the prices, you can then put them up for sale. In this age, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can sell something online. The money you raise by selling some of your things can also be used to buy more appropriate replacements that can fit inside your new home.

Dealing with a newly-empty nest can be quite emotional and stressful, but getting rid of unnecessary clutter is a great way to be more positive about moving into this next phase of your life. Letting go of a few old things simply mean making room for new and better things.

EMPTY NESTERS: Top 5 Reasons Why It Could Be Wiser To Sell Than To Renovate

It may seem like a daunting task to sell your home rather than to renovate – the process looks tedious, and you and your family may have emotional attachments to your home. But there are a lot of pros that side with selling your home that you may not know or may not have considered.

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1. Home renovation actually costs a lot more than you think! If your home has been sitting for too long, it could actually cost less monthly when you purchase a new home. Also take into account the amount of equity you hold and the types of renovations you're considering. 

According to Rob Caulfield, director of Archicentre, the building design and advisory service of the Australian Institute of Architects, renovating more than 50% of a home has to be made to comply with current building regulations. This could possibly mean getting new wiring, plumbing, and new energy rating – so basically a whole part of the house may need to be insulated and the cost can be quite hefty. Take note that you may also need to hire professionals and that a contingency fund for cost and time overruns are necessary. If you intend on financing renovation costs, use a mortgage calculator to determine just how much your existing mortgage and a renovation loan/ home equity loan or line of credit would cost versus a new home mortgage.

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2. There are little returns to renovating your home. No matter how good you think your renovations will upgrade your home, keep in mind that no renovation will produce a 100% return.

Based on a recent study, you will recoup only 64.4% of a remodeling project’s investment dollars if you do sell in the future. So if you do plan to sell, just prioritize the important parts of the home that need fixing such as the roof, the kitchen, and plumbing.

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3. A new home environment entails a fresh start at life. If you’ve stayed in a single area in a long while, you may be feeling burnt out with seeing the same spaces every day. Sure, the familiar is comfortable, but moving to a new place may give you and your family a refreshed perspective because you’re now located in a different living space. 

Another noteworthy benefit of selling and buying somewhere new is you can accommodate the current, and future, needs of your family without going through the mess of renovating.

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4. Renovating can be a major hassle. Take inventory of your skill set and ability to manage and deal with contractors, as well as renovation costs for major renovations. If you haven't done all these before, there may be a lot of room for budget overruns and unexpected complications.  

5. You might just come across your dream home. If you get an agent that can help you sell your house and hook you up with ones that fit your family’s wants and needs, you might just get a hold of your dream home without all the hassle and hefty costs of renovation.

Sure, renovation can be a good idea, too. But don't dismiss the chances of you getting a better deal by selling your house instead. Talk it over with a professional baefore making your final decision.

Tips for Empty Nesters and Why Downsizing Your Home Could Mean “Living The Dream”

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While owning a home remains the American Dream, “aging in place” or staying in one’s own home as you age is also considered part of it.  However, staying at your bigger home isn’t always the best option. And as you get older, downsizing or settling into a smaller home could also be one definition of “living the dream” and aging in place.

Older Americans, more of whom are homeowners, are now more likely to downsize. At least 37 percent of baby boomers said they plan to move at some point in their life, and 42 percent of that number said they would prefer to live in a smaller home, according to a 2016 study released by the Demand Institute, which is jointly operated by the Conference Board and Nielsen.

In an article by Time Magazine, the current US housing market is said to have more good news towards the empty nesters and homeowners who are looking to downsize, so many are calling it the “empty nester’s housing market.” Builders and developers are now catering to the 55+ crowd or the Baby Boomer market, creating more age-restricted communities, compact townhouses, and even high-service luxury condominiums.

SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DOWNSIZE?

While downsizing may be daunting at first, it offers many financial and emotional benefits in the longer run. People who are taking the proactive approach see and do it out of necessity, choosing to downsize before they get older and it becomes more difficult to do so.

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Offers many financial advantages. While your six-bedroom farmhouse with a spacious garden holds so many memories of your children, maintaining it now takes time and has larger costs compared to living in a two-bedroom flat. Downsizing means there are fewer maintenance costs, cheaper utility bills, or even lower taxes and monthly mortgage costs. A smaller house also undoubtedly has fewer rooms to clean. This is a great chance to increase your retirement savings and allocate this fund for other better investment options, or you can even spend more time in travel and vacation.

You can focus more on your lifestyle and well-being. Especially in age-restricted communities and luxury condominiums, the focus is not only on the accessibility of the place to main city places and attractions, but it’s more lifestyle-oriented as well. These communities offer a wide selection of homes and resort-style amenities and better accommodate active retirees, making them ideal retirement destinations. You can focus more on engaging yourself in new activities and hobbies you’d always been dreaming to do.


Best for any of your health concerns. While we always say that we’re “as young as we feel,” we may encounter some health problems as we age. There are many housing options if you want to avoid going up and down the stairs because of arthritis or fear of falling when doing your own cleaning. You could also choose a home that’s near a clinic or hospital if you want a shorter trip to your next medical appointment.

 
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Here are some tips to make downsizing “rightsize” and a positive experience:

Seek help from an agent who specializes in senior home purchases. The purchase process itself for this kind of communities is not much different from any home purchase, except that there's a level of detail in selecting a home that allows you to live exactly as you want. There are real estate professionals who are downsizing specialists and have profound education in senior housing and the moving process for older adults.

Be assured that your housing options are not limited. Whether you’re looking into moving to a smaller home, an age-restricted community, or even into assisted living, remember to choose a home that meets your needs and current lifestyle, where you’ll be more comfortable and happy.

Set a definite but realistic timeline. Unlike when buying your first house, looking for a perfect smaller home or an age-restricted community may take longer than expected. There are websites that specialize in providing active-adult community information to help with your search. Many people are also starting to look for these areas two or three years before making a purchase. Just remember that you are now looking for the perfect location and community that suits your needs.

Minimize your storage by knowing what you’ll own and what you can throw away. Downsizing also means you'll have lesser storage space, so you’d want to keep only the things you need. You can opt to sell, donate and throw some items you have accumulated over the years, and just keep those that you deem valuable or those things that have increased their value over time. Experts also recommend doing an estate sale once you’ve sorted out your items, so you’ll be able to collect money as well. If you’re having a hard time to let go, just remember that the true memories and experiences you’ve had are indefinitely stored in your mind and heart and not in these physical items.