What Are Your Retirement Living Options?

Retirement isn't what it used to be. These days, rather than sitting back and watching the roses grow, more of us want to use the extra time, energy, and any cash released from the sale of a property to travel the world or fulfill some other lifelong ambition.

                                               

Today's retirees want somewhere they can perhaps travel from and entertain. Health issues are still there but people now stay fit for longer, have the spending power, and have the force of numbers to drive change. A whole new home market is growing up to meet their varied demands.

Ideally, the perfect "retirement" home is one that provides for the inevitabilities of aging and accommodates changing needs. The closer the home matches your needs, the less chances are of a subsequent move.

Whether you decide to downsize to a smaller home or move to a retirement community, the advantages are obvious-smaller homes translate into lower costs and less maintenance. Retirement communities also ensure like-minded neighbours. The lifestyle decision is yours.

Moving can be an overwhelming experience both physically and emotionally, however, preparing yourself for your move can make all the difference in the world. Once you've determined that you're ready to take the plunge, there are many options available to you.

Before you make a decision about where to live in retirement you need to consider many factors: the daily lifestyle you want; proximity of children, or other relatives and friends; the type of climate you enjoy; and your health or medical needs. Ideally you should consider these personal and lifestyle factors first. Then you need to face reality. What can you afford? Your choices may be limited to cost, however, if you have planned your retirement carefully, you should have enough funds to cover the monthly expenses for whatever retirement home you choose.

Should I continue to live in my current home after retirement?
Staying in your current home will probably be much more economical if the mortgage is already paid off. If you don't own the house free and clear, you'll need to figure out if your retirement income will be high enough for you to continue the payments.
If you want to continue living in your home-as most people do-you should evaluate whether it meets your current and future physical needs. If it requires repairs or remodelling, do you want to undertake these projects, and can you afford the cost? For example, if you or your spouse have a medical problem, you may need to consider constructing entrance or exit ramps, modifying stairways, installing railings, support bars, or other modifications to bathrooms, and grading the ground to provide access to the house.

If you decide that you should move, there are many options available:

Condos and apartments
A condominium lifestyle has been a favourite of empty nesters and retirees since its inception. Condominium apartments and townhomes are available in virtually every price range and neighbourhood. Some of the more upmarket developments have their own swimming pools, gymnasiums, tennis courts, and bowling greens. Others are set in the countryside, by lakes, or are even child-free for those who want peace and quiet.

Condos life has many advantages. In addition to being short on maintenance and long on amenities, condos offer more opportunities to socialize. You will meet neighbours in the halls, the lobby and the laundry room. Condo living is a good choice for low-key, sociable types who enjoy getting to know other residents.

On average, condos are much more affordable than houses, making them an excellent fit for individuals who want to lower or limit their housing costs. Clearly condos are the economical choice for retirees hoping to downsize.

Bungalow living
Bungalows provide empty nesters and retirees with the best of both worlds: the opportunity to own a house and a yard with minimal maintenance.

The "bungalow living" concept has surged in popularity in recent years, especially in smaller communities outside major centres. Many empty nesters and retirees are considering the sale of their larger, more expensive homes in the city to purchase less expensive bungalows in more rural areas.

Retirement communities
Retirement communities offer retirees the amenities often associated with condominium living, smaller homes and the opportunity to live with like-minded individuals.

Current day retirement communities are resort-like in nature. The focal point of these communities is the clubhouse, where a variety of amenities including fitness facilities, tennis courts, game rooms, swimming pools, and in some areas, golf courses are available. For the most part, they're built in rural areas that are close to large urban centres, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle of city living.

These communities are designed to help you with the assistance you need. For example, when you first move in, you may not need a large degree of care and supervision, but as time passes, your needs might increase. This is how retirement homes and communities operate today. They attempt to steer completely clear of the stereotypical convalescent or old folks home. Yet as you progress, should you get sick or need surgery, be assured that all necessary care will be there to assist you.

Giving up the home where you have lived for many years may seem frightening. Mentally, emotionally, and physically it is better to start to think and plan for such an eventuality before you are forced into somewhere you really don't want to be.

If you're uncertain about the alternatives available to you, you may want to speak to your Real Estate Agent. He/she can provide you with a free estimate of the value of your home and help you to determine what type of property will best suit your retirement lifestyle.

Source: Canada Realty News July 2009