A dream home. Many people strive to find that “forever” home that will serve their family for years to come. But some don’t consider that everything you need now won’t be everything you need later. As we age, our needs change, and that three-story Victorian with a big backyard may not be as glamorous at 65 was It was at 35. So how do you choose a dream home for your golden years? Well, there’s a few things to consider.
Local Realtor Deborah Mason has a list to get you started: low maintenance yards, single story homes or homes with a downstairs bedroom or suite, homes close to amenities and accessible transportation, easy access to the house and garage, and energy efficient features to keep costs down. Each one of these items checks a box for the aging senior looking for a home that caters to their needs.
Low maintenance yard
A big, beautiful backyard is often number one on a family checklist because you can’t really create more outdoor space. Either the home you buy has a big yard or it does not. However, the same is true in reverse. A yard that requires a lot of maintenance may be hard to keep up with. You can xeriscape a yard—meaning putting in landscaping with little maintenance requirements such as rocks and low-watering plants—but the size of a yard isn’t exactly malleable.
As a result, seniors may want to downsize to a house with a small yard, or even no yard at all. A small patio with chairs will be easier to manage than an acre of aging trees and a garden that needs lots of attention.
Single-story home/downstairs bedroom
Whether you’re there yet or not, avoiding multiple daily treks up and down stairs will save your joints some serious pain while also reducing the risk of falls. If there is a downstairs suite in your home, that can also help, as the upstairs bedrooms can be saved for spaces you won’t need to be in on a daily basis.
If your home doesn’t have these features, there are possible installations that can help. First, an alert necklace or bracelet that you can use in case of a fall. Secondly, a chairlift may be needed to make trips up and down stairs more manageable.
Say it with us—location, location, location. Deborah suggests asking yourself this question: “Is it close to friends, family, medical facilities, [and] shopping centers?” Ease of access becomes more important when driving at night gets more difficult. Choosing a home either walking distance or a short drive away from all the businesses you need to visit on a regular basis (think a grocery store, post office, doctor’s office, and even hospital or urgent care) can create a more manageable lifestyle. Being close to family and friends also increases the chances that loved ones will be able to assist with tasks from time to time. One thing Deborah points out isn’t always a good fit is a rural home. Retiring in the wilderness may sound serene but being far from these amenities can be detrimental.
The ease of access in getting around your property is also important. Choose a home that doesn’t have a lot of stairs leading up to the front door, or a big step down into the garage. Handrails, chairlifts, and wheelchair ramps can help when mobility becomes of concern, but it may be easier to choose a space that simply doesn’t present these obstacles. Being able to get in and out of your house as well as to and from your car without fuss is important.
Energy efficient features
In addition to physical changes, budget and monthly income may also change drastically upon retirement. If you’ll need to save some pennies, energy efficient features including solar, new HVAC and appliances, and LED lighting can all help keep monthly costs low.
Consult an expert:
115 S. School St., Ste. 11, Lodi