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Does “Aging in Place” Make the Most Sense?

Many homeowners nearing retirement age face a tough choice: to sell or to stay? For some, the decision is pretty easy—they’ve had their hearts set on Florida living or their empty nest is just way too much to care for. Plus, there are all kinds of interesting new 55+ and Active Adult communities out there. But for others, the thought of “aging in place” has more than a little appeal.

Aging in Place Certainly Has Its Benefits

happy seniors aging in place

If you’ve lived in your current home for a long time, the thought of moving might be more than a little daunting. You’ve likely accumulated a lot of personal belongings over those years (and if you have kids, there’s probably a whole lot more). Plus, you’ve made some good memories in your place, and you’ve grown comfortable not just with the home, but with your neighborhood, your neighbors, and your area.

So, the question is, why would you leave?

The Downsides to Aging in Place

an older home with a large backyard

Aging in place might be convenient—at least for now—but convenience is hardly your only worry when considering keeping your home after retirement. A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) notes that 80% of homeowners aged 65+ live in detached single-family homes, the majority of which are at least 40 years old. And there are a few problems that come with an older home!

Older homes require more maintenance

repairing the roof

If your home is getting on in years, it’s likely in need of a little maintenance. And as you age, tackling those maintenance projects might not be as simple as they once were! You might find yourself calling for outside help on even small fixes—and that can start to add up. Not to mention that those larger repairs (think: a new HVAC system or roof) can definitely put a dent in your retirement.

Your home might be too large

an unused bedroom when aging in place

When you bought your home, how many people were in your household? If you had a couple of kids in tow, odds are, you’ve got a few extra bedrooms that aren’t doing much more than collecting dust. And while another room or two might not seem like much (as long as you don’t mind a little extra dusting), you shouldn’t overlook the extra expense of heating and cooling that extra space you’re not using.

Your home might not fit your needs

sitting in the backyard

Even if you don’t have kids, your needs when you first bought your home likely aren’t the same as they are now. You might’ve wanted a large yard with a pool or an out-of-the-way upstairs bedroom. But as you age, it might be more difficult to maintain that lawn, and climbing stairs could start to become a hassle.

Even the location might not be ideal anymore if you chose your spot to be close to schools, parks, or work.

What about renovations?

considering home renovations

Instead of selling their homes, many owners make aging in place more doable by remodeling—converting two bedrooms into a massive master suite, downgrading lawn maintenance with paving stones—but extensive alterations come with their own set of pros and cons.

For one, they’re expensive. For another, there’s really only so much you can change about a home, even with major renovations. And lastly, if you do eventually end up selling the home, odds are, you’re not going to recoup the same value you put into those alterations. In fact, you could even reduce the value by combining bedrooms!

So, Bottom Line: To Stay or Sell?

The bottom line about aging in place is one that’s not so unique in real estate—it really depends on the situation! For some homeowners, keeping your current home is the right move. For others, relocating or downsizing might be a more viable option. Either way, it’s important to carefully consider all your options, as well as the pros and cons of each.

Not sure which move is best for you? Ask us! Linda Craft and Team has over 350 years of combined real estate experience, so we’re pretty good at clearing up questions and concerns. And if you do decide to sell or downsize, we’re more than happy to put our expertise to work for you!

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