7 Tips For Buying a Retirement Home

It’s quite common for people who are nearing retirement age to consider moving from their family home and into one that better meets their newfound needs. What you may have needed in a home when you’re in your 30s and 40s might be quite different than what you need in your 60s and beyond. And choosing a home that suits these different requirements can make life easier and more enjoyable for you in retirement.

But buying a retirement home is a huge decision that should never be taken lightly. Before you take the plunge, be sure to take a number of factors into consideration, and always work with a real estate agent who can walk you through the process without a hitch.

1. Set Your Goals

Before you start pounding the pavement in search of the perfect retirement home, identify what goals you want to attain. Whether it’s to find something that’s closer to amenities, warmer weather, or friends or family members, your specific goals should be focused on when searching for your forever home. The properties you look at should be in line with what your goals are.

2. Budget For the Time When You Will No Longer Be Working

At some point, you will retire, which means you won’t have a steady paycheck rolling in every pay period. But you’ll still need to be able to comfortably afford your monthly payments, including your mortgage. Odds are, you’ll have less money to play around with, so you’ll want to budget accordingly.

It’s not uncommon to forget about the restricted income that comes with retirement, especially soon after saying goodbye to the daily grind. But it’s important to remember that not only will you need enough to cover the cost of the new home, but also the property taxes, ongoing maintenance, repairs, and any upgrades you might want to make. And you certainly want to have plenty of money left over to do the things you enjoy.

If necessary, work with a financial advisor before moving. Having a sound financial plan in place is always smart, and perhaps having the guidance of a professional can help ensure you set yourself up appropriately before entering retirement. 

3. Do Your Homework on Retirement Communities

If you’re considering buying into a retirement community as opposed to just downsizing, make sure you research the communities you have our eye on. Of course, it’s always nice to be surrounded by others your own age and have activities made available to you, which are the perks of such communities. But they’re not all created equal.

Further, such communities tend to come with stringent rules that all residents and their guests must adhere to. They might have rules about how much noise can be made at the pool, how many guests you can have over at the same time, how long children are allowed to visit, how you’re allowed to landscape your front yard, what color you can paint your front yard, and so forth. Keep this fact in mind before choosing to move to a retirement community.

4. Consider a Low-Maintenance Property

What you may be able to do when you’re younger may not be something you’d care to do when you’re in your Golden Years. If you’re planning to stay in your new home for good, consider a home that’s as low-maintenance as possible. That might mean going for something that’s a little newer and therefore comes with newer materials and systems.

The lot itself should also be low-maintenance. Flat lots without an overabundance of shrubbery to care for might be wise, though this might not matter so much if you’ve got a green thumb and enjoy the thought of spending some time tending to your flower bushes.

Downsizing to a smaller home might also be a sound idea. Most likely, you won’t need the same amount of space that you may once have, and a smaller home will be easier to manage and likely cheaper to operate, too.

5. Consider a Single-Story Home

Going up and down stairs is not only a nuisance, but it can also be impossible for anyone with mobility issues. In this case, every extra stair in a home can prove to be a major obstacle. Retirees tend to like the idea of a single-story home so they don’t have to worry about struggling up and down stairs. You may want to consider a single-story home for yourself as well in case mobility becomes an issue for you or your partner as you get older.

6. Think Long-Term

Moving from one home to another might be feasible and even financially wise when you’re younger, but you likely don’t want to have to move again once you find and buy your retirement home. Consider this your “forever home” rather than a “starter home” and focus on a property that you can visualize living in for the long haul.

Considering such a commitment, you’ll want to take your time analyzing every property that you come across to make sure it fits the bill for your forever home. Consider not only your needs for today but also your needs years down the line.

Not only should the home itself meet these future needs, so should the surrounding neighborhood itself. Ideally, the area will provide you with easy access to amenities you’ll need on a daily basis and the activities you most enjoy.

7. Don’t Forget About Your Furry Friends

If you’ve got a pet that you’ll be taking with you, consider how the new home will accommodate it. This is particularly important if you’re thinking about moving into a retirement community. As already mentioned, these communities tend to have very strict rules, and a no-pet policy might be one of them. Even if the community allows pets, they may have restrictions on the type, size, and the number of pets allowed on site.

The Bottom Line

Buying a new home always requires plenty of thought and consideration, and a retirement home is no different. But if you plan to stick around for the long haul, this is a decision that you certainly want to take your time with. Make sure you work with a seasoned real estate agent to help you determine exactly what your needs and wants are and focus on the right properties.