Your home is lovely, familiar and packed full of memories. It’s a haven you never want to leave. It may also be a hazard to your retirement. After considering physical, financial and social issues, you might find that a move is appropriate.
Physical issues: adapt the house
Over the many years you’ve lived there, the structure of the house hasn’t changed but your body has. Are you struggling to climb the stairs? Maybe you need physical therapy to strengthen your legs, or maybe an investment in a chairlift will help. For safety, you might install grab bars in the shower to prevent slips and falls. If you can afford whatever adaptations are necessary, then you and the house can be in harmony. If the adaptations can’t be made for whatever reasons, then why not look for a place better suited to your physical capacities?
Physical issues: technology makes house calls
Next imagine some change that confines you to the house. Getting you to the doctor’s office may be very difficult but communicating your vital information to your medical team is easy.
Inventions –from watches that can monitor falls, to sensors that can record weight, blood pressure, and medicine, to special toilet seats that can analyze bodily waste to determine such things as dehydration, urinary tract infections and noroviruses—can decrease hospitalizations and allow you to stay at home.
Financial issues: what’s everything cost?
Lots of clever devices can aid you, but they may have installation costs and monthly charges. What’s affordable? Answer that by knowing key financial numbers in detail.
First, how much dependable income do you have? How will it cover increased expenses?
Second, what does it cost to run your home? Most people don’t know the complete cost of running their homes. Homes have forty or more operating and maintenance items. Without accounting for all of them, you may “suddenly” find that there are more bills than income. If you aren’t aware of what the house really costs, applying for a reverse mortgage loan* might make matters worse.
Third, what does it cost to run your lifestyle in a way that pleases you? Be sure to include health care costs.
A move may be a good choice if the house becomes a safety or financial hazard. If major repairs and rising costs eliminate the trips you want to take or the events you want to enjoy, does it make sense to stay?
Social issues: how vibrant is your life?
Social issues may be another signal for moving. What is the quality of each day? Do you stay indoors because you don’t feel safe walking on uneven sidewalks or dark streets? Are you getting through the day with solitaire and hours of television?
Studies indicate those feeling lonely and isolated can be at higher risk for such conditions as, high blood pressure, chronic illnesses, depression, cognitive decline, and arthritis. You can change this trajectory. Becoming part of a community is one way to engage in healthier and more lively days.
- If the house can’t be adapted affordably for your physical needs and safety
- If rising house costs deny you the luxuries and delights of your lifestyle.
- If isolation is darkening your days
You, like many other retirees, may find that a fresh start elsewhere can put more life in your life and maybe more money in your wallet!
* Reverse mortgages, or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) are run by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/hecm/hecmhome )
Bio: Penelope S. Tzougros, PhD, ChFC, CLU, became a financial planner in 1986, after serving as a Professor of English Literature at Northeastern University and Hellenic College in Boston. Her desire to demystify money matters led to her writing for radio, television, online courses and three books. The latest book is Your Home Sweet Home: How to Decide Whether You Should Stay or Move in Retirement. In all 50 states, she is registered with, and securities and advisory services are offered through, LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.