With retirement comes freedom and flexibility, as well as some limitations. For these reasons, many retired people choose to simplify their lives. One way to simplify is to downsize.
Downsizing can mean reducing the number of possessions you own. It can also mean moving to a smaller home to better meet your current and future needs.
The idea of staying put for life may sound ideal. Moving is a lot of work at any age. But the economic, social and health care issues you face as an aging adult can complicate things.
Many people begin to realize their home requires a lot of upkeep. Mortgages and taxes can strain your income and assets. As you become less active, moving around inside becomes more of a problem. Driving or mobility issues may make it harder to get around town. And it takes persistence to find medical, social and other services that can make house calls.
To help manage many of these issues, aging adults of all ability levels are choosing more often to downsize. You may think about moving to an over-55 community or a smaller house. Moving to a condo, apartment or assisted living facility - or even sharing your home - might be an option. There are choices to fit most any lifestyle and need.
So where do I want to live?
Housing that may be right for one older adult may not fit another. You will need to live in a place that matches your health, social and financial needs. Your choices should reflect whether you can live independently or need help.
Ask yourself the following questions when you think about downsizing. Discuss your answers with family or friends to help you decide what living arrangement is best:
What kind of lifestyle do I want?
Do I need to be close to family and friends, doctors, pharmacies, medical offices, shopping, senior centers, restaurants, banks or religious facilities?
Will I need space for visiting kids or grandchildren?
Do I need features to assist me in moving around comfortably in my home?
What role will others have in making these decisions?
What in-home support services are available, now and in the future, to meet my health and social needs?
Is staying in any home a short-term or a long-term plan?
Legal and financial concerns
Once you narrow down your choices, you can look at the legal and financial effects of your decision. You may need to think about:
How much will the housing cost?
Are there programs to help me pay the costs of utility bills, home repairs, modifications and other maintenance expenses?
Can I receive property tax relief?
Would I use a reverse mortgage loan to help pay for such expenses as medical and long-term care, home repairs and modifications?
Will a reverse mortgage loan or income from house sharing affect my eligibility for assistance?
Does my will specify who inherits my home when I die?
An elder law attorney may help you sort out these issues. Elder law attorneys work to advise people of the best ways to comply with laws and still protect their assets.
You may also want to contact Eldercare Locator for information on housing options. Call them at 800-677-1116.
For aging adults willing to relocate and downsize, there are many options. Be sure to sort through each carefully because terms can be confusing. For instance, about 30 different terms are used to refer to group housing options. Every state has a different way to describe and license these types of living arrangements.
With some solid research and a little bit of help, you'll be able to find the home that's best for you.