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Thinking About the Ideal Setting for Retirement? Follow These Steps

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One of the most important retirement decisions – and sometimes one of the most overlooked – is the decision about where you’ll want to live as you age. Based on thousands of conversations with clients, radio listeners and seminar guests, we would observe that all too many seniors go into retirement assuming they’ll be able to stay in their current home for years, even decades. In reality, however, their failure to plan and prepare can force them into difficult and costly decisions, often requiring them to make a poorly-planned move under duress when their health declines.

Because this question of planning for housing needs is so important for seniors, we wanted to share this recent article from the website GOBankingRates, titled “Your Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing the Perfect Home in Retirement.” It’s not that the steps listed in this article are so unusual or unique, but we were drawn to this article because we like the fact that it lists all these common-sense steps in one logical sequence. This guide could prove very helpful to those looking down the road toward their housing future.

“Deciding where to live is a key part of retirement planning,” says GOBankingRates. “Your retirement years might be the first time in your life that you can choose a home without any logistical constraints. You don’t have to live in a certain place for your job or find a community with good schools for the kids. You can live almost anywhere you want and in any type of home, but sometimes having all those choices makes it difficult to decide.” With that in mind, let’s look at this sequence of recommendations and see if they prove helpful. Here are the ten steps:

  •  Assess your budget. This should be obvious, but people tend to underestimate or overlook costs of things like property taxes, condo association fees, renter’s insurance and yard care. Start by creating a realistic housing budget that matches your available resources.
  • Consider the location. “Are you currently a northerner who dreams of retiring to a warm, southern climate? Have you always wanted to live near the mountains or by the water? Pinpointing the type of day-to-day lifestyle you want will help you narrow down your choices.” Retirement can open the door to brand new living opportunities.
  • Decide whether to rent or own. We just wrote about this question a few weeks ago here on the AgingOptions Blog (click here to read the post). This is a personal decision, one that requires careful evaluation. One suggestion: if you’re moving to a new community, renting for a while is almost always the best option, just to make sure the place is really for you.
  • Consider the type of community. Be honest: do you really need a traditional single-family home? Is a 55-plus community for you? How do you feel about living in an apartment or condo? Once you narrow down the types of living situations you don’t want, it will be easier to pick the options that make the most sense.
  • Decide what amenities really matter. People sometimes think they want to live in a major city, only to realize that they really would be happier in a quieter setting – or vice versa. Make a list and evaluate how much the hiking trails, coffee shops, college sports or cultural diversions really matter. It might sound nice to live in a condo that has a swimming pool, but are you really ever going to use it, or are you just paying extra for an amenity that costs a bundle but doesn’t truly matter for your personal lifestyle?
  • Make sure you understand how your chosen community works. “If you decide on a 55+ or retirement community,” says the GOBankingRates article, “be sure you understand what you are responsible for and what the community provides. A retirement community may offer social activities, local transportation and even on-site medical care, but it might also have restrictions on what you can and can’t do to your property. Consider how the community will fit your needs now and also as you age.”
  • Plan for the future, not just the present. These days retirement can easily last 25 or 30 years or more. During that time your needs are going to change considerably. You might want to select a retirement community that offers graduated levels of care so you’ll never have to move again.
  • Understand your exit strategy. If you do move to a retirement community, find out what happens when you leave – either because you move or because you pass away. For example, many communities require large entry fees. Make sure you understand how much of that amount, or other deposits, will eventually be repaid to you or your heirs.
  • Don’t forget transportation costs. This is another category where we think seniors tend to underestimate the true expense. Today you’re driving your own vehicle, but what happens when you have to rely on the bus or train, or Über, to get around? If you retire far from grandchildren, will your budget allow for plane trips home? Set a realistic travel budget or you’re sure to be unpleasantly surprised.
  • Make sure you ask the people who already live there. “Once you’ve narrowed your choices,” the GOBankingRates article advises, “talk to friends who have made the move about their experiences. Ask them what they were surprised by and what they would do differently. If you have a retirement community or two on your short list, ask some of the residents there what they like and don’t like. And listen carefully to what they have to say.” No one knows a retirement community, an apartment complex, or a neighborhood like those who already live there.

Planning for your housing needs is something we talk a great deal about here at AgingOptions, because housing is such a critical part of retirement. But in order to be truly comprehensive, a retirement plan needs to consider not only housing choices but financial and legal protection, medical needs and family communication. The only plan we know of that does all this is a LifePlan from AgingOptions. We encourage you to come join Rajiv Nagaich at one of our popular AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminars where you’ll learn the facts about this planning breakthrough.

There’s absolutely no cost or obligation.  Simply click here for details and online registration, or contact us during the week. You have a lot of choices to make in retirement – why not make your first choice one of the most important ones you’ll make, and discover the power of an AgingOptions LifePlan.

(originally reported at

(Photo attribution: Evb-wiki at the English language Wikipedia)


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