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Is “Aging in Place” the Best Choice?

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A desire among most seniors is to “age in place.” According to the Senior Resource Guide, the term means,

“…that you will be remaining in your own home for the later years of your life; not moving into a smaller home, assisted living, or a retirement community etcetera.”

There is no doubt about it – there is definitely a comfort in remaining in a home you have lived in for many years, instead of moving to a completely new or unfamiliar environment. There is, however, new information that proposes this might not be the best option for everyone. The familiarity of your present home is the pro of aging in place, but the potential financial drawbacks to remodeling or renovating might actually be more expensive than the long-term benefits.

A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) titled Housing America’s Older Adults explained,

“Given their high homeownership rates, most older adults live in single-family homes. Of the 24 million homeowners age 65 and over, fully 80 percent lived in detached single-family units...The majority of these homes are now at least 40 years old and therefore may present maintenance challenges for their owners.”

If you are in this situation, 40 years ago you may have had a growing family. For that reason, you probably purchased a 4-bedroom house on a large piece of property in a child-friendly neighborhood. At the time it was a great choice for your family, and you still love that home.

Today, your kids are likely grown and have moved out, so you don’t really need all of those bedrooms. Yard upkeep is probably very time consuming, too. Perhaps you might be thinking about taking some equity out of your house and converting one of your bedrooms into a large master bathroom, and maybe another room into an open-space reading nook. You might also be considering cutting back on lawn maintenance by installing a pool surrounded by lovely paving stones.

It all sounds amazing, doesn’t it? For the short term, you may really enjoy the new upgrades, but you will still have to climb those stairs, pay to heat and cool a home that is larger than what you need, and continue fixing all the things that start to go wrong with a 40-year-old house.

Last month, in their Retirement Report, Kiplinger addressed the point,

“Renovations are just a part of what you need to make aging in place work for you. While it’s typically less expensive to remain in your home than to pay for assisted living, that doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk to stay put. You’ll still have a long to-do list. Just one example: You need to plan ahead for how you will manage maintenance and care—for your home, and for yourself.”

At some point, the time may come when you decide to sell this house regardless. That can pose a big stumbling block if you have already taken cash value out of your home and used it to do the type of remodeling we mentioned above. Realistically, you may have inadvertently lowered the value of your home by changing things like reducing the number of bedrooms. The family moving into your neighborhood is most likely similar to what your family was 40 years ago. They probably have young children, need the extra bedrooms, and may be hesitant about the pool.

In Conclusion

Before you spend the money to renovate or remodel your current home, so you can age in place, it might be wise to meet with a licensed realtor to figure out if it is truly your best option. Making a move to a smaller house in the same neighborhood or area might make the most sense.

Please contact Tobie Andrews Real Estate Media for all of your residential and commercial photography needs. Photos, video, and drone. Let us help you!

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