A lot of preparation goes into retirement — 401(k)s, IRAs, downsizing. In the midst of maximizing your savings and planning for the future, it is crucial not to lose sight of the bigger picture, like where you plan to live throughout retirement. If you hope to hit the open road in an RV, that’s one thing. If not, making sure your home is equipped for your specific needs can be quite the undertaking. Here are the most important things seniors need in a home for retirement.
1. Identify your retirement landscape
Downsizing from the large family home you once had can be an emotional rollercoaster, so before you do it, make sure you have identified what you want your retirement to actually look like. Will your children and grandchildren regularly visit? Do you plan to spend a significant amount of your time outdoors? Once you make those decisions, it will be easier to select a home that fits your needs.
Next: A very important rule of retirement home-buying 101.
2. Pay less than you can afford
By the time you reach retirement, you should be well-aware that living within your means is of the utmost importance. Even though you may be able to afford a retirement dream home at the top of your budget, consider purchasing less than you can actually afford. This addition wiggle room will alleviate the stress associated with any unforeseen medical or financial woes down the road.
Next: Make sure you are accounting for this key piece of the retirement puzzle.
3. Have extra space for a helper
At a certain point in your retirement, you may find a need for an adult child, sibling, or friend to come in and help you with daily tasks. Selecting a home that can provide space for that helper to comfortably live will ease both your mind and their’s. Consider choosing a home with a mother-in-law suite, a garage apartment, or a second master suite.
Next: This should be a top priority when buying your retirement home.
4. Location, location, location
With most of life’s big decisions, location is key, but even more so when you are basing those decisions on your retirement. The location of the home you purchase should seamlessly integrate into the lifestyle you want. Are you within quick access to good health care? Is being near a hub airport important to you and your visiting family members? Would you prefer to avoid cold winters? These are all questions you should answer prior to purchasing a home.
Next: Whether you wish to admit it or not, the need for this will likely take precedence.
5. Make sure the home has an open floor plan with wide hallways
As frightful as it may be, purchasing a home with a wide open floor plan and handicap accessible hallways is imperative. The chances are high that at a certain point you or your partner will need those wide hallways for wheelchair accessibility or a walker, and the last thing you want to deal with is a handicap accessible remodel. Take the floorplan into consideration before making a purchase.
Next: Accessibility for daily tasks is key.
6. Be sure everything is easily accessible
To avoid completely relinquishing your daily tasks such as laundry, cooking, dishwashing, and even showering, purchase a home that will accommodate your needs. For instance, appliances that require a lot of bending over for use will eventually become problematic. Many homes can be outfitted for aging residents to comfortably complete daily tasks. That includes step-in showers and eye-level appliance setups.
Next: Last but not least, avoid these like the plague.
7. Avoid stairs at all costs
Stairs will likely turn into the bain of your existence. Purchasing a single-level home will take away a lot of the stress and anxiety associated with your daily routine, plus you won’t have to install any expensive lifts to get you up and down those pesky stairwells.