Retiring - What Are Your Housing Needs?

Let's say that you have reached the big 60. You've had the party, received lots of advice for senior citizen exercise, diet, and adventure. But you now begin to think more seriously about your housing needs as you retire. What are your 'must haves' and 'would like to haves'?

  • Should you try to maintain your past housing expectations or downsize?
  • How much effort do you want to put forth in maintaining your property after you retire?
  • Do you want to mow lawns, make repairs on your roof and siding, shovel snow, etc.?
  • What kind of flooring do your prefer?
  • What types of handicap adjustments would you need - door opening size, handrails, ramps, etc.?
  • Would you be happier in a Condo or Townhouse? Urban, suburban, or country living?
  • What kinds of technology do you expect in your retirement house?
  • How 'green' do you need your last home to be?
  • How much of your 'stuff' can you let go of?
  • What kind of climate do you prefer to live within?
  • Do you have elderly parents that might need you to be a caretaker, to move in with you?
  • What's happening with your children? Are they financially and maritally successful, or do they need to move back home?
  • What will your monthly income be after you retire?
  • Do you plan to travel or do you plan to remain at home most of the time?
  • Do you have pets?
  • What are your hobbies? How much space do you need to pursue them?
  • Are you married or single?
  • Do you still have a underage child at home?
  • How close do you want to live to relatives, grandchildren, or parents?
  • What amenities are a must wherever you settle down?
  • What types of stores would you want within walking distance?
  • Will you have frequent overnight guests?
  • Do you prefer to rent or will your purchase a home?
  • Do you want a home that is easy to access - street level entrance, all rooms on one floor, etc.?
  • Do you have any special needs?
  • Will you have a vehicle or will you be depending on public transportation?

All these, and many other items, are important considerations when you begin to imagine your retirement.

Recently my wife and I sat down and had a brainstorming session about our retirement years. We came to several tentative conclusions, that may help you think through your future needs.

  • We prefer to be in walking distance to a Whole Foods or similar type of grocery store.
  • If possible, we would also like to have a safe walking trail easily accessible from where we live.
  • We don't want to take care of the externals of our home or the grounds, so we will opt for a townhouse in a well-run association.
  • We don't like having folks living above us, so don't prefer the condo life.
  • We still have a teenager at home, so we need to be near a good school.
  • We want our bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs.
  • We want a downstairs room that could be used for an elderly parent.
  • We want easy, street level access into the house.
  • We want our 'townhouse' to have been fully paid for so that we don't have a rent or a mortgage payment.
  • We don't want to be members of an association with lots of amenities that keep our monthly dues more than $150.
  • We will look for a low crime, low noise, and environmentally 'clean' area.
  • We prefer to be within a short driving distance to where there are cultural events, coffee shops, cafes, and a place like Target.
  • We need a pet friendly place.
  • We prefer a place in the south where the winters are relatively short.
  • We will be looking for a senior friendly community, yet one that is also multi-generational and multicultural.
  • If possible, we would like a community that caters to 'green' themes, provides charging stations for electric vehicles,
  • We've had the large homes, but are looking for something easily manageable - less than 1500 square feet.
  • If possible, we prefer an end unit, so that we only have to deal with the potential noise of only one neighbor.

If you have already retired or are beginning to plan for your retirement, what will you be looking for in housing? We'd like to hear from you.