“Should I stay in this big house that I have lived in forever, with so many memories of good times with family and friends?” Sometimes I can almost hear the arguments going on in my clients’ heads, weighing the plusses and minuses of making a move as they plan for retirement. “Should I stay where I am despite the high taxes and downsize to a smaller home nearby or relocate to Delaware where taxes are so much lower?” Moving is a big decision in the best of times, but in times of financial uncertainty and depressed housing prices, it can be very stressful. My advice? Take your time and think things through carefully.
Studies show that the choice you make now determines where you will live for the rest of your life. So, let’s take a look at some of your choices and talk about how to make a stay or go decision you’ll feel good about later.
Stay put. Do you love your home, your neighborhood and your town/state? There’s nothing wrong with staying right there when you retire and many people do. Sure you might need to make some changes. You may want to modify the floor plan to allow more first floor living space, upgrade your kitchen or master bath, add that sunroom or create outdoor living space so popular in new homes today. Make your old home new again and do it for less money perhaps than buying, selling and moving.
Maybe the home you’re in now is just too big to deal with now that the nest is empty. If you still love the area in which you live, however, why not downsize down the street or to a town nearby? Moving a short distance may reduce your taxes, cut your living costs and allow you to stay in the area. Lots of great starter homes or condominiums are also perfect retirement homes.
Do you really need more than one home when you retire? Wouldn’t you really rather spend all your time at the beach house now that you have the choice? That might be the easiest decision and something you have always wanted to do. What would it take to turn that vacation getaway into a comfortable year round home? If you sold your primary residence would that provide the funds you need to remodel the beach house, add the gourmet kitchen, create an elegant master suite or even gut and do a total renovation?
For many Boomers who have moved many times during their lives due to career, marriage, divorce and more, this might be the first time they get to decide where they want to live just because they have that option. Think about that for a minute. Growing up you lived where your parents lived. Your first move was probably because of the school you wanted to attend. Then, your choice of career dictated the best place for you to live. Next you were transferred; then you were offered a better opportunity but you had to move again. Now, it’s your turn and where you live is totally up to you!
Despite logic, some people just have a harder time moving. It’s an emotional decision and with couples, one may want to stay while the other wants to go. Once you’ve made that big decision, you still need to think about how you are going to live and how you will provide for your future independent living. I know, I hear you saying “I’ll think about that later, when I get old.” But I’m asking you to think about it now while you can still do something about it.
The right remodeling project will reward you now, as you age and again if you do decide to sell. According to Remodeling Magazine’s Annual Survey of Cost vs. Value, kitchens and baths are the most popular remodeling projects and return the most value.
Adding or remodeling a master bath? Put in a curbless shower. Make it spacious, use fabulous tile, add multiple shower heads and a marble bench – it’s a Spa Bath that you will be able to use no matter what happens in your life.
Upgrading your kitchen? Look at the new comfort height appliances. Make some of the counter lower so that you can use regular chairs instead of stools. Use lots of drawers in your design.
Remember, “Aging in Place” doesn’t happen by accident and if you wait to make changes in your home until you need them, it will be too late.